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by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
censorship, grandstanding


Finally: People Speaking Up About How Censoring Craigslist Helps 'Pimps, Child Traffickers & Other Abusive Scumbags'

from the preach-it dept

We've been saying for years that the political granstanding efforts against Craigslist do the exact opposite of their intended purpose. They certainly don't stop prostitution or child trafficking. They just drive it further underground. Craigslist has become a very useful tool for monitoring, tracking and cracking down on such illegal activities. However, every time I mention it, some people get upset that I "just don't understand" the horrors of child trafficking etc. Well, it's true that I certainly have no experience with it, but I don't think that changes my analysis of the situation... and it appears that others are starting to notice as well. Danah Boyd has written an excellent article explaining in direct terms "how censoring Craigslist helps pimps, child traffickers and other abusive scumbags."
The problem with this logic is that it fails to account for three important differences: 1) most ISPs have a fundamental business -- if not moral -- interest in helping protect people; 2) the visibility of illicit activities online makes it much easier to get at, and help, those who are being victimized; and 3) a one-stop-shop is more helpful for law enforcement than for criminals. In short, Craigslist is not a pimp, but a public perch from which law enforcement can watch without being seen.
She goes into detail on all three points. It's an incredibly eloquent defense of Craigslist that should be required reading for all of the politicians, reporters and so-called "public interest groups" that have been running the media campaign against Craigslist, without understanding these basic points. I'd love to see any of the attorneys general who have been grandstanding actually try to respond to this. I doubt any of them will.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2010 @ 11:09am

    If we outlaw prostitution only outlaws will have prostitutes!

    Yea I know not totally relevant but the funny thought struck me so I thought I would share... shut up I thought it was funny! I'm going to go cry into this small traffic'ed child now...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Trails (profile), 7 Sep 2010 @ 11:15am

    Mike, you're wrong.

    "We've been saying for years that the political granstanding efforts against Craigslist do the exact opposite of their intended purpose."

    No, they are furthering their intended purpose, furthering the careers of certain asshole politicians. They have the opposite of their STATED purpose, of helping exploitation victims. However, the intent is to grandstand, not to help.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Common Sense, 7 Sep 2010 @ 11:24am


    If I had to guess, I'd say that these politicians are getting significant campaign contributions from some competitor, perhaps the local print newspapers, in return for attacking craigslist... Anything to get those wanted ads back in the paper so that people have to pay to see them...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      suckerpunch, 7 Sep 2010 @ 11:35am

      Re: ashamed

      I feel one of the fundamental reasons craigslist is so targeted is the simple fact that it is one of the most successful INDEPENDENT websites out there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Republic Monetary Exchange, 7 Sep 2010 @ 12:07pm


    I think that if someone is stupid enough to buy sex on Craigslist then they should get caught. Shutting this down seems like it's going to hamper a tried and true way for Chris Hanson to trap these guys!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 7 Sep 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Just for fun

    After all the news about how Craigslist is destroying humanity, I decided to check it out. Figured it'd be good for a laugh. After I looked at it and said "My god, it's full of spam" (2001 stile) I closed it and questioned the sanity of the people wasting their time on it. All they're doing is forcing the PIMPs (player in a management position) to use other means, like the personals section of Craigslist, and giving them free run of the Internet. What would you do if you had months notice that the AG was coming down on you and even then you knew they would just go after the website and not you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    wheels4me2 (profile), 7 Sep 2010 @ 1:30pm

    State AGs are grandstanding on a flimsy soapbox

    State AGs go after CL as a high profile easy target without the resources to fight back. Newspapers love writing bad things about CL since CL cleaned their greedy clock by publishing ads for free.

    CL only started charging for adult services after being forced into it by State AGs. Now State AGs argue that CL is making too much money off the ads--that they forced CL into charging for.

    Prostitution is one issue. Trafficking in UA children for sex crimes is another. Free speech is a fundamental right given by the US Constitution.

    Considering that State AGs are the highest profile example of their profession in every state, it clearly shows why lawyers are held in such low regard. They are collectively willing to trample the Constitution to further their careers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tom Landry (profile), 7 Sep 2010 @ 2:55pm

    The "Child Traffickers" on Craigs reminds me a lot of the same bullshit law enforcement used to to try to sell to the public about "drug pushers" who would supposedly hang around schoolyards, get a kid to hand out free samples and then "charge them" once hooked. unfortunately (or fortunately) they don't exist. After having been a hardcore addict for close to 30 years i had NEVER seen a dealer do such a thing. Most of them have kids and also know the penalties involved so they only dealt with lowlifes like myself.

    Regarding Craigs and "child traffickers", I'm sure some southeast asian countries have real issues with this sort of thing but knowing many of the women who work off of Craigs in my area all are doing it voluntarily, many prefer working for themselves and many are educated, over 30, down to earth people who aren't being beaten by some stereotyped "pimp". I actually lived in a state that had rational laws regarding prostitution but seeing that we were the only ones in the nation, the local politicos had to change (I'm speaking about Rhode Island) and made sure we all had a nanny state in our bedrooms making sure "THE CHILDREN" were protected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    average_joe (profile), 7 Sep 2010 @ 6:00pm

    I'm sad I didn't know there were prostitutes on craigslist until just a couple of days ago... but it was too late. ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    yogesh, 7 Sep 2010 @ 11:41pm

    Child Trafficking

    Trafficking is a global issue, the tragedy of trafficking in South Asia is thousand of young girls and boys are sold into modern-day slavery. This is the documentary that provides a compelling look into this dark, inhuman, and exploitative world and shows how each one of us can help to prevent modern-day slavery.

    please do watch http://www.cultureunplugged.com/play/479

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gregg L. DesElms (profile), 8 Sep 2010 @ 5:02pm

    Though at this writing it is still awaiting moderation (but should appear there soon), here is what I posted as comment beneath the Ms Boyd's Huffinton Post article:

    It would probably help for anyone wishing to more fully grasp where I stand on all this to read my recent Facebook posting at http://bit.ly/bGm4ox

    To Ms Boyd: Thank you for your thoughtful and skillfully-crafted article. You clearly mean well; and to the depths of my soul, I know that you are, indeed, the passionate (and compassionate) activist for women's rights and protection that you claim. But, godloveya', that you clearly believe there can be such a thing as "consentual prostitution" (as may be intuited from your stated belief there can be such a thing as the nonconsentual kind) conveys to me -- who has spent many more years than you (and far deeper in the trenches while) understanding prostitution, and helping those victimized by it -- that your grasp of it all is intellectual, at best... and sorely misguided and flawed, in any case.

    I would give almost anything for the chance to help you see prostitution, and all which surrounds it, as I have... so that perhaps you would stop both believing and writing such as you've written here.
    I'll probably write a fully-developed rebuttal, but at the moment I'm so exhausted from processing all the ways that you're just... I'm sorry... just WRONG in this piece, that...

    ...well... I honestly barely know where to begin.

    [sigh] We'll see.


    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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