Craigslist Blamed Yet Again For Something It Didn't Do

from the just-can't-help-it,-huh? dept

Weren't we just pointing out that everyone seems to want to blame Craigslist for things that it has no responsibility for? The latest is Connecticut's Attorney General, who has attacked Craigslist for allowing ads for prostitution. This is hardly a new charge. Last summer, the mayor of Atlanta lobbed similar charges at Craigslist. But, of course, just like that time, the blame is misplaced. Craigslist is the tool provider, not the content provider. To blame Craigslist isn't just wrong, when it comes to illegal acts like prostitution, it's downright backwards. Why? Because as some police have realized, Craigslist is actually a really useful tool for police to track down and arrest people breaking the law.

So not only is it placing the blame on the wrong party, it's doing so in a way that would only drive the prostitution further underground, making it harder for the police (and the Attorney General's office) to do their job. How smart is that? But it sure does generate headlines... The Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, had this to say in a letter to Craigslist:
"I am astonished and appalled by Craigslist's refusal to recognize the reality of prostitution on its Web site -- despite advertisements containing graphic photographs and hourly rates, and widespread public reports of prostitutes using the site."
To which I can only reply: I am astonished and appalled by Richard Blumenthal's refusal to recognize the reality of liability and section 230 safe harbors -- despite it being the law of the land and widely known and discussed in legal circles.

Filed Under: blame, craigslist, prostitution, richard blumenthal
Companies: craigslist


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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 30 Mar 2008 @ 9:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Be Careful...

    You actually support my argument...craigslist DOES NOT check its classifieds....but IT SHOULD.

    That's not what the law says.

    And, if it did, it would open up a huge mess. Where do you stop?

    Should the telephone company record everything that you say on the phone? Should your web host monitor everything you upload? Should your ISP read all your email?

    Craigslist has a list of prohibited items...however, what is the point of telling me "you cant post that here" if they are not going to enforce it?

    They do enforce it. If someone points out a problem item, they take it down, just as the law requires.

    The issue at hand is whether cragslist has the responsibility to check what is on their site, which they have failed to do. Similar suits have been brought against eBay and other online stores, all of which have resulted in the courts claiming that online sites are not free from the responsibility to ensure that what is posted on their site is within the realms of legality. It SHOULD NOT be left up to us to police the listings.

    Can you site such a case? eBay, just like Craigslist, has the responsibility to take down problematic content *after* they are alerted to the content. They are not responsible for policing it in real time.

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