Craigslist Faces More Heat Over 'Erotic Services' Listings

by , Apr 29, 2009, 7:00 AM
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CraigslistIllinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has joined the ranks of law enforcement authorities renewing calls on free classifieds site Craigslist to stop offering "erotic services" listings.

 

In a letter sent this week to CEO Jim Buckmaster, Madigan alleges that Craigslist violated an agreement reached last November that calls for the site to screen out illegal ads. "It is clear that the erotic services section continues to facilitate the exploitation of women in Illinois and in states across the nation," she writes.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal also recently demanded that the site stop accepting erotic services ads.

While complaints about such ads on Craigslist are nothing new, the recent murder of Julissa Brisman has spurred law enforcement authorities to step up calls for the site to crack down on illegal ads. Boston University student Philip Markoff allegedly killed masseuse Julissa Brisman after responding to a Craigslist ad she placed offering erotic massage.

The site FAQ says that the erotic services section was designed to house ads for services such as "sensual massage, adult web cams, phone sex, erotic dancing, adult websites, nude housecleaning, etc." But critics say that many ads are obviously related to prostitution.

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has said he doesn't believe the site facilitates prostitution. He has also consistently taken the position that the site determines policies based on feedback by users.

Craigslist's Buckmaster said Tuesday that the site was "interested in any and all ideas that AG (Attorney General) Madigan and others may have for eliminating illegal activity from our site while preserving all of the positive attributes and functionality valued by our community of users."

Last November, Craigslist agreed to require that advertisers provide credit card information as part of a deal with more than 40 state attorneys general. The site also agreed to begin charging advertisers $5 for erotic services ads, with the revenue donated to charity.

In her letter to Buckmaster this week, Madigan asked for an accounting. She estimated that Craigslist has received $370,000 in ad revenue for erotic services listings in Chicago since last November and requested an affidavit from the site's accounting firm to verify the ad revenue and donations.

Buckmaster said Tuesday that charities receiving the ad revenue "will be made public at an appropriate time."

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