"Adult Services" and Craigslist

Friday, October 01, 2010


In 2001, Craigslist created a separate category on its website called "erotic services" (later renamed "adult services"). In addition to posting apartments for rent or sofas for sale, this site now facilitated sex – presumably between consenting adults. And so it went for nine years, until early last month when Craigslist closed down the service amid pressure from government prosecutors and child advocates. Daily Beast columnist Michelle Goldberg explains that many using the service were in fact trafficking minors.

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Comments [8]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Even after the Craigslist killer committed apparent suicide, I have a brother who decided to sell unused used bicycles through it. He urged me to seek a house cleaner (too disabled to do it well for myself) through it and I resisted.

People worry about Internet security but open their doors to total strangers using it. Am I crazy, or isn't something wrong with this picture? The only real world billboard ad I ever used to get a roommate netted a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Actually, since he stayed on his medication and I got him his first professional sale of a piece of his art, it turned out o.k.

Oct. 06 2010 03:04 AM
Alan from Portland, OR

The interview failed to mention that Craigslist charged for adult services ads -- that hardly put them in a position to fight sex trafficking. Besides, Craigslist is notoriously ineffective at fighting other crimes that it facilitates, such as selling stolen goods. I do commend them for voluntarily deciding to close adult services in the face of mounting evidence.

For those interested in more info about global trafficking and the sex industry in North America:


Oct. 05 2010 12:11 PM
Aethiops from Brooklyn, NY

Village Voice is 20x's worse then craigslist!

Oct. 03 2010 03:30 PM
Bob from Detroit, MI

I would have asked why law enforcement didn't use the Craigslist postings as the source for daily assignments for their agents.

There is great tracking information supplied by the individuals posting the ads. Why not get a standing court order to track these postings and use it as a law enforcement tool?

I would make the case that Malika Saada Saar's efforts were misguided. They should have spend all the resources in pressuting law enforcement to use Craigslist as a TOOL to fight the crimes.

I just don't get it.

Oct. 03 2010 02:09 PM
Michael Hannon from Austin, Tx

This report was the most disappointing I have ever heard on "On The Media". The complete lack of any actual evidence offered to tie "Craig's List" to child trafficking (and no "prosecutors say" is NOT evidence).
It is exactly this sort of unquestioning acceptance of the claims of those claiming to act on behalf of extremely sympathetic victims, has often lead to terribly damaging witch hunts, such as the child ritual abuse scandal (which our current prosecutor here participated in, and local people who are almost certainly innocent are still in prison because of these events). And perhaps more to the point, your program is premised on questioning media coverage, yet here you are giving fawning coverage for completely unsubstantiated charges, apparently just because the cause is "good', and "harmless".
This total lack of critical thought I found profoundly disturbing, and undermining of your credibility on all the issues that you address, and there can be real harm done.

Oct. 03 2010 11:32 AM
Peter Boyle from Mt. Gilead, Ohio

I am a very long time listener to NPR and have enjoyed 'On the Media'. I seldom comment, however your reporting on Craigslist has continually been one sided. The latest, claiming that it is a place that fosters trafficking in child prostitution is such a hatchet job that I must break my silence.

It would seem, to the uninformed, that it allowed underage girls to advertise their 'services' openly. That is not true in any way. None of the 'heart wrenching' stories used to illustrate the evil of Craigslist actually involved the list at all.

I think you, as well as several Attorneys General have been either duped or 'morally' whipped into doing the work of a small group of fanatics who use 'child sex' the way Carrie Nation used saloons to further their political aims.

I have no problem with the public flogging of people actually caught abusing children, they deserve what they get. I do have a problem with 'guilt by association' and 'guilt by innuendo'.

Oct. 03 2010 09:10 AM
Eric from Torrington,ct

I think the idea of how closing down adult services drives the activity to other sites was brushed aside to easily. Not even days after the fact I remember NPR reporting on another site the government was trying to shut down for the same reason. There will always be a place for this kind of activity and the idea that closing craigslist will make things harder for people is ridiculous; craigslist was already one of many other sites providing this service. It just happens to be the most publicly recognized. Lastly, I find it rather doubtful that people looking to fulfill the kind of questionable desires will be discouraged simply because they have to put in a little more effort finding and using a different site. Prostitution is commonly called the oldest job for a reason, there will always be a place where it will be practiced and now that it has moved to the internet there is a vast array of easily replaceable platforms. Rather than play an unwinnable game of whack-a-mole, it seems to make more sense to have a recognizable and monitor-able concentration of activity. Because while the number of wins that cooperation with law enforcement are limited, they are at least quantifiable; there's simply no way to actually know if closing down craigslists adult section actually did anything, it's just too easy for activity to move on the internet.

Oct. 02 2010 04:44 PM
Luscious Fox from ATL

So, according to this argument we should shut down the entire adult internet. Why stop at Craigslist.

Absurd. Pimps trafficking in minors will find another way to advertise their wares. Hows about focusing on the law-enforcement side of the equation. Instead of shutting down Craigslist adult services, what about infiltrating the network and arresting some of the Johns and pimps who are actually the criminals here... Isn't that the FBI's current strategy with child porn? According to them, the strategy is working...

Oct. 02 2010 11:36 AM

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