Craigslist to Crack Down on Prostitution Ads

November 7th, 2008 at 12:00 am


Craigslist, the world’s biggest classifieds site is changing its rules on sex ads.  The San Francisco-based website said that it had reached an agreement with 40 state attorneys general and agreed to tame its notoriously unruly “erotic services” listings.

Anybody who has anything to sell, advertise or give away has used craigslist as a medium to peddle their goods.  Craigslist’s localized and categorized listings are particularly useful for targeting the correct audiences.  However, like any public bulletin board on the street, Craigslist has very lose rules.  Prostitutes and sex-oriented businesses have long used that section of Craigslist to advertise their services.

These activities of course have caught the attention of lawmakers and law enforcers.  Not that it’s entirely illegal but there is a bit line crossing going on.  Earlier this year, Attorney General of Connecticut Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Craigslist demanding that they clean up their site of advertisements for the entire "erotic services" section.

“They identified ads that were crossing the line,” said Jim Buckmaster, chief executive of Craigslist. “We looked at those ads, we saw their point, and we resolved to see what we could do to get that stuff off the site.”

Craigslist initial solution was to as erotic services advertisers to provide a phone number which a machine calls to give a verification number the advertiser must use to post an ad.  However this time Craigslist will be taking this a step further by requiring valid identification, credit card information and a payment.

Mr. Blumenthal said the new measures would discourage many sex operators from using Craigslist. “The mere act of authentication will be a very significant deterrent,” he said. “There are very few prostitutes who want to be called by Craigslist and asked to give additional identifying information.”