Craigslist foes praise removal of 'adult services'

September 5, 2010 1:01:17 PM PDT
Craigslist appears to have surrendered in a legal fight over erotic ads posted on its website, shutting down its adult services section Saturday and replacing it with a black bar that simply says "censored."

The word "Censored" replaced the phrase "Adult Services" on Craigslist over the weekend, a move which came after 17 attorneys general called on the website to get rid of the ads.

Those who have pressured Craigslist are now full of praise.

"Over a number of years, we've persuaded Craigslist to take action eliminating prostitution ads and fortunately, now it's done the right thing voluntarily by shutting down the adult services section," says Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

However, some are wondering if it really has. The word "censored" now appears where the adult services section once was, but Melissa Farley with Prostitution Research and Education points out that ads for sex are still there.

"Look at their website. You'll see they are now on casual encounters," she says.

ABC7 clicked on the casual encounters link and indeed found postings offering sex.

"They're facilitating the buying, selling and marketing of the most vulnerable people in our culture. That's people in prostitution," Farley says.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster has not responded to questions about the new censored icon and ABC7 did not find the company's founder, Craig Newmark, hanging out at his favorite cafe Saturday.

Newmark's neighbors are quick to defend him.

"Craigslist has done so much good for the world that because some attorney general wants to make his name by trashing Craigs reputation, it's really not right," Steve Silberman says.

Some people in the sex industry say losing Craigslist will push many women back to the streets. Some prostitutes say they get about 10 to 15 percent of their business from Craigslist. The website benefits, too. Analysts believe the sex ads bring in about $36 million for the company.

Farley says this should not be about money.

"This is a human rights violation," she says. "It's violence against women."

Newmark posted a statement on his Twitter page thanking everyone for their support. A PR representative for Craigslist says they will be issuing a statement at a later time.


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