Have you ever gotten a present that you weren’t really a fan of? It might have been from a crazy aunt or an awkward co-worker, but you smiled and said thank-you. After all, it is the thought that counts, right? Wrong. Outside of poor gift giving, it really isn’t the thought that counts but the action or inaction that matters.
Recently, Backpage.com announced that they were suspending some of their adult categories. The keyword is some. The Women for Men, No Strings Attached, and Missed Connections sections have all been made “temporarily unavailable,” but the paid adult services on Backpage.com are still up and thriving. Geebo shares the same question as Sharon Hill in her October 18, 2010 article on AIMGroup.com, “Did they really think people wouldn’t notice that the moneymakers are still up and running – with ad copy and photos that are more blatantly sexual than anything Craigslist allowed in its adult services heyday?” Apparently Backpage.com thinks it really is just the thought that counts. Wrong.
In the past month, Geebo completely removed our personal ad section as a preemptive and preventative measure. Unlike sites such as Craigslist and Backpage, we never had a problem with our site being utilized for prostitution, escort services, or child trafficking. Since Geebo’s inception a thorough review process of all classifieds submitted for publication has been employed. We never found this to be a novel concept, just a socially responsible business practice. But, even with history on our side, this wasn’t good enough. We vehemently exercise our belief that being socially responsible isn’t about complacency, but about pushing yourself and your company to be better and safer for its community of users. It really isn’t asking that much.
Backpage.com has said that they are now going to be reviewing ads in their adult categories, increasing staff to assist in this process, implementing barriers to prevent minor’s use, and educating their users about online safety. This is great…but once that newly hired person finds an unacceptable submission, what do they do? Is there a timeline for these new procedures? Are they going to educate their users on how to protect themselves on the very site on which they are using? The “thought” by Backpage.com doesn’t count unless some action, or plan for action, accompanies. As Hill points out, “if Village Voice intent is to clean up its adult services act, the actions taken today by BackPage have fallen far short of goal.”
Encouraging an “it is the thought that counts” mentality does nothing more than alleviate responsibility and affirm the status quo. This is not the type of behavior that should be celebrated. Instead of supporting companies that do something for their user’s protection, we should be supporting companies that do everything for their user’s protection. It is more than social responsibility. It is about being human.