Craigslist takes down adult services section, silent as to why
Craigslist shut down its adult services section quietly late Friday, seemingly acquiescing to the demands of child welfare groups. Organizations such as The Rebecca Project had said that Craigslist's policy of allowing sex ads was assisting criminals in sex trafficking, and the site was making a hefty profit doing so.
For whatever reason, the site has decided to make it obvious that it was removing the link, placing the word "censored" in white letters with a black background in place of where the link used to be. Cragslist's decision to do so seems to suggest that it may have been pressured to make the change rather than doing it of its own volition.
The site was not responding to press requests for comment as of Tuesday. The move came about two weeks after attorneys general in 17 states warned Craigslist that prostitution ads were rampant across the site. The site responded, and said it was willing to work with law enforcement in order to get the issue under control.
It is estimated that Craigslist could lose as much as $36 million yearly in revenue as a result of shutting down adult ads. According to a study from AIM Group, that revenue had tripled in just the last year alone.
Shutting down this section may have the opposite effect than what critics may be looking for. Prostitution could begin to appear in other sections of the site, like "casual encounters." In fact, a cursory search of this section will find many ads advertising sex for those who are "generous:" essentially sex for money.
Microsoft Research senior researcher Danah Boyd argued that censoring the adult services section actually helps those using Craigslist for criminal purposes.
"What we desperately need are more resources for law enforcement to leverage the visibility of the Internet to go after the scumbags who abuse," Boyd wrote for the Huffington Post. "What we desperately need are for sites like Craigslist to be encouraged to work with law enforcement and help create channels to actually help victims."