More Bad Press For Craigslist

Another Craigslist-related crime has the site facing renewed scrutiny this week. In this latest incident, a man in North Carolina allegedly used the site to orchestrate an attack on his wife.

Predictably, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, one of the leading critics of the site, is already making noises about subpoenaing Craigslist for more details, according to the Associated Press.

This outcry about Craigslist might make for good politics -- and might actually help publicize some of the risks of the site. But it doesn't seem aimed at stopping crime. Yes, the site is used by criminals -- ones who leave behind a digital trail that should make it relatively easy to arrest and prosecute them. What's more, for all the complaints about unsavory activity on Craigslist, no one has come forward with any numbers showing there's more crime -- prostitution, financial scams, assaults, or anything else linked to Craigslist -- than in the pre-Internet era.

Nonetheless, the media seems all too eager to let politicians scapegoat Craigslist. Of course, newspapers have their own reasons to resent the site. Newspapers' classifieds revenue plummeted from almost $20 billion in 2000 in around $10 billion last year. Meantime, the use of Craigslist skyrocketed, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Around one in 10 Web users now visit a Web classifieds site on any given day, up from 4% in 2005, Pew reports. The bottom line is that newspapers simply weren't able to compete with Craigslist, which isn't interested in making a profit.

Meantime, it seems as if the print media is getting a boost from the pressure on Craigslist. Last month, Craigslist voluntarily agreed to discontinue its section of erotic ads and replace them with a monitored "adult" section. The Washington City Paper says the move is already having an effect. The paper recently reported Village Voice Media's SF Weekly ran 910 adult ads last week, up from 160 in the week before Craigslist changed its policy.

2 comments about "More Bad Press For Craigslist".
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  1. Kare Anderson from Say it Better Center, Inc., June 5, 2009 at 7:29 p.m.

    As a former journalist and happy user of Craigslist I appreciate this insightful, balanced coverage

  2. Richard Mizer from DigitalVenturesDiversified, June 6, 2009 at 3:31 a.m.

    People need to start taking some responsibility for themselves. Craigslist has alot of bad guys using it for criminal activities, but there use to be this saying "buyer beware". Very similar to the Nigerian banking schemes, people use Craigslist to sell stuff they don't have, especially tickets to 49er games, where a friend of mine got ripped off for $2000, but only because he didn't use common sense or "due diligence" before he sent money off to some lady who was leaving her husband and so she was in Wisconsin and use Western Union because she couldn't get the money out until he got the tickets(meanwhile the FBI caught up with her).

    I personally get about 20 various Nigerian-like emails a day...somebody sold my email address to those people...of course I am not dumb enough to actually follow through but I know 100s of vulnerable people do. Next let me say I almost never post comments but I am tired of Craigslist being blamed for the stupidity of people who fall for the schemes that happen there and everywhere seems to me they have become the scapegoat because they are popular. Personally I have found alot of stuff I need there so I like Craigslist and I like the fact they are not in it for the money. If you don't feel safe there, or are too stupid to realize you could be ripped off...don't go to Craigslist - it's Buyer Beware - and it's not their fault...and I am tired of the newspapers trying to take them out by publishing the few sad incidents that happen, so that they could possibly be shut down.

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