Craigslist Caving Shows The Perils Of Self-Policing... Or The Perils Of Grandstanding Politicians?

from the i'd-argue-the-latter dept

Following Craigslist's decision to cave in to demands and start monitoring every "adult services" post on its platform, the Wall Street Journal is running a rather odd article suggesting that this somehow shows "the perils of self-policing" by a community, and suggesting that such crowdsourced reviews don't work. Except, that's a gross misreading of the actual situation. The crowdsourcing worked just fine. The issue was that members of the Craigslist community didn't have a problem with the ads in question. Those who did have problems were grandstanding politicians looking to get elected to higher office. If anything, it doesn't show the perils of self-policing, it shows the perils of getting caught in the sights of grandstanding politicians who need to whip up populist anger even if they have no legal basis to do so.

Filed Under: grandstanding, politicians
Companies: craigslist

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 May 2009 @ 8:48am

    First of all, many magazines DO publish such ads and don't get in trouble for it -- but why let facts get in the way of ignorance?

    Point noted. Why just the other day I found this in the classifieds of the SF Chronicle and the SJ MN. Wait a sec...I am mistaken. It was Craigslist for the SF BA. Glad I remembered lest I misspoke.

    Bears looking for f***toy - mm4m
    Reply [Errors when replying to ads?]
    Date: 2009-05-18, 9:43PM PDT
    Hey all you cute guys out there, I am looking for someone to take care of my man while i'm not around, we live a ways apart and don't see each other more than once a week and he really really loves taking it up the a**. We only ask a a few things of you, You must not be a femboy, or really flamboyant, You must have proof your clean(must of had a check no longer than 3 months ago) we are looking for a top. It would be nice if you could host since his bed is kinda small, but if not w/e you can sleep with him... If he is ok with it
    Send me a message with a picture and ill send you one of him, If you pass his judgment ill organize a meeting in person

    Let's be clear. CL is not a philanthropy. It charges fees for certain types of ads, and uses the "free" for other types of ads to entice people to the site. It then goes on to try and avoid any responsibility for the "free" by using a TOS that is nothing more than a "head in the sand" disclaimer. I have to wonder if CL would enjoy its current popularity if it was a PAYG site for all ads, in which case it would run into significant legal problems if current "free" ads such as noted above were presented to the public at large.

    To try and say that CL is a "dumb pipe" that should bear no responsibility for what appears on its site is indeed a slender reed for supporting an argument such as you advocate. It is a platform for "content". It chooses to charge for some of the "content" while turning a blind eye and deaf ear to all other "content". Sorry, but using CL as a poster child to lambaste "evil AGs" is downright silly and not calculated to present a compelling argument.

    If CL permitted paid content to advertise appartment rentals with a category "DNR2DP" (Do not rent to disabled people", it would get hauled into court by the DOJ and state authorities so fast your head would spin. By your logic, if this category was added to the "free" list it should be able to hide behind its TOS and Safe Harbors. Sorry, but in the real world this is not how things operate.

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