Craigslist’s recent decision to quietly remove the adult category from their international locations is not one to be celebrated…yet. Though the category is gone, the problem is not. The issue is not having a specific category to post ads for prostitution within, it is about the absence of a review process that would prevent such solicitation from being published.
Like many of Craigslist’s decisions, this one should raise a few suspicions. Why now? Why so quietly? When Craigslist suspended their U.S. adult section a few months ago they went to great lengths to make sure it was known. Placing the word “Censored” over the section caused quite a media stir. This time, unless you religiously read tech blogs, you are likely unaware that their adult category was nixed internationally. Perhaps their silence is quite a loud admission. They know they are not doing enough and they are not doing what is necessary to stop the illegal activity their site fosters.
Craigslist’s decision comes on the eve of a U.S. House vote on the Senate-passed Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act. This is a fantastic piece of legislation that will establish pilot programs to provide counseling, education, and basic support for sex trafficking victims. Additionally, this bill will mandate participation by all levels of law enforcement, including educating officers and prosecutors on how to identify, investigate and prosecute human traffickers. Craigslist is hoping to insert itself into this progressive conversation and ride the positive coattails of this pending law without implementing anything consistent with the law’s intent. This is not okay.
This move by Craigslist also comes right before the Lifetime movie “The Craigslist Killer” debuts on January 3rd, 2011, at 9pm eastern. My guess is they are attempting to generate as much good press, though not deserved press, prior to their site’s reality being brought to life and into millions of homes for the public to truly see.
You can’t cure a disease without acknowledging and treating the symptoms. A submission review process is the ONLY way to combat the presence of human trafficking on a classified site. Craigslist can remove as many categories as they want but until they employ a thorough review procedure that prevents ads from automatically going live on their site, nothing will change. Today on Craigslist, the sex trafficking continues…
We at Geebo, albeit preemptively, removed our personal ads section so as to guarantee we would never have a problem with sex trafficking. We did this in conjunction with our thorough and manual review process that has been employed since the beginning. The extra time it takes is worth the lives of our users. This should be a no-brainer for any classified site.
For Craigslist the decision to remove the adult category throughout the world is more about strategy than security. This is not a mentality to encourage.
Hold your applause until Craigslist does something worth clapping for.