Friday, May 15, 2009

The Death of Craigslist's 'Erotic Services' Section...

Here's something you can tell your grandkids that will really date you, "I remember back when Craigslist still showed ads for prostitutes". Well, this is true no more. Bowing to legal pressure, Craigslist has finally decided to get rid of the "Erotic Services" section of its website.

The decision was made voluntarily, although the recent media attention about the "Craigslist Killer" and several state attorneys-general threatening criminal charges certainly had a strong motivating influence.

It should also be noted that Craigslist is not exactly shutting the section down completely. Instead, it will be reborn as a new "Adult Services" section - the key difference being that now all posts will be reviewed before they are published on the site (to ensure that they are from "legal adult service providers"). New ads will cost $10, and can be reposted for $5.

Well, it's about time. As I've argued before, there was no good reason for Craigslist to keep the section up-and-running. It helped facilitate prostitution, illicit activities with minors, and generally put people in harm's way, as demonstrated with the "Craigslist Killer" case. The erotic services section really served no purpose whatsoever - the website didn't even earn a profit from it, choosing to donate 100% of net revenue from "erotic services" ads to charity - and the website's previous justification that the section "enabled stronger law enforcement" by centralizing possible illicit activities in one place was always pretty lame. So what advantage was there in keeping the controversial section going?

In fact, the only real question to ask is, what on earth took them so long?


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