Will The Craigslist Sex Crackdown Change Anything?

Over the weekend, Craigslist blocked access to the “adult services” section of its website, replacing the link with a bar reading “censored.”  Spokespeople for the site were bizarrely reticent about the change, which is probably a response to the severe criticism that Craigslist has received from law enforcement officials and human rights activists concerned with sex trafficking through the site.  Right now, it’s not clear whether the “censored” bar is permanent, and some have speculated that the move is a statement to the site’s critics, who have not been successful in getting Craigslist “adult services” shut down by legal means, but who have very effectively stirred up popular anger against the site.

Craiglist says that it is protected by the Communications Decency Act.  As one legal expert explained to the NYT, “They can absolutely keep it up. The law is pretty crystal clear on this.  What’s happened here is the states’ attorneys general, having failed to win in court and in litigation, have decided to revisit this in the court of public opinion, and in the court of public opinion, they have been much more successful.”

The “adult services” section of Craiglist is a significant source of revenue, although it has been subject to increasing criticism, especially after prominent cases like that of Philip Markoff, the man who committed suicide in jail last month after being charged with murdering a woman he had met on Craigslist.  But many question whether shutting down this part of Craiglist will do anything – in fact, some pointed out that Craigslist’s transparency both protected sex workers and gave crucial information to the police when things went wrong.

Some see the “censored” bar as a deliberate political gesture to an establishment that seemed intent on depriving the site’s creators of free speech.  And clearly, this move is not going to change much.  There are still many places to buy sex online, and much of the traffic from “adult services” has moved to the Craigslist “personals” section, where it’s much more challenging to regulate.  Sex workers and other activists have spoken out against the change, saying that it will make it much more difficult for sex workers to operate independently, without the influence of pimps and other powerful intermediaries.

We’ll see whether the Craigslist move is permanent, but for now, the change seems not to be as much of a triumph as Craigslist opponents would hope.

Photo from Flickr.


Enoch C Gould
Enoch C. Gould3 years ago

Honestly--I'm not sure. I really had no idea about the depth of involvement in prostitution that Craigslist has been agreeing to!
This has to change one way or another, and any legitimate attempt for this is worth it!
Thanks for reading and considering, everyone!
God bless all of you! Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior!

jeremy L.
jeremy Lovin7 years ago

censorship from sea to shining sea.

Maria J.
Maria J.7 years ago

I don't think the internet benefits society when it's used for people to make meaningless sexual connections. Craigslist should also stop publishing ads in the personals where people are begging for someone, anyone to come by and perform sex acts, and that also include photo shots of their penises. My daughter occasionally gets on CL and she doesn't need to know about that **&$%#^!!

Karen C.
Karen C7 years ago

I know that human trafficing has become more of an issue in the last couple of years. I'm not sure if Craig list should have been shutdown it's adult website,but if they were responsible for criminal activity on their site then they should be required to monitor it. They certainly made profits from it.
I think that prostitution should be legalized for those over 21 and hopefully this would protect sex workers and their customers.

Evelyn J.
Evy J7 years ago

This is like saying eliminating a website for ponies, eliminates the supply and demand for ponies. It doesn't.

Sherylee Harper
Sherylee Harper7 years ago

Free speech and exploitation are very different. Sexploitation is just evil whether it is adults, consenting adults, GLBTs, or children. This is about dirty money and profit from sex.

Krystal W.
Krystal A7 years ago

Thanks for the update!

Eri Rocha
Eri Rocha7 years ago

You don't need the internet to traffic children or for prostitution. Actually the concept of "childhood" is fairly new in human history and pedophile tendencies are presented and passed on to us through several legal and socially acceptable means- including beauty pageants, movies, toys and while I am appalled and disgusted by human trafficking - it is not the censorship of a site - that will stop it from happening - or even deter it.
Prostitution is one of the oldest professions on the planet and making it illegal is nothing more then archaic religious ideasl -which should have no place in government or law making. To me marginalizing prostitution is in the same vein as dictating what is allowed for my body.
With all this so-called -liberation and women's rights - where is the right to decide wether or not you will sell your body... and it's a gross misunderstanding to say that poor women and addicted women are the only one who partake in prostitution. High class call girls some times speak up to FIVE languages -have college degrees... the only real concern for me in this are the children.
Prostitution is NOT a victimless crime - but it shouldn't be a crime at all.
It not being a crime - there would be less victims - as anything can generate a victim...
Again - the protection of children should be priority and means to prosecute their abusers implemented. Censorship has never been the way -
Can I have my Soma now?

Kathy M.
Kathy M7 years ago

Craigs list started out as a great idea.I don't think it was set up to aid people in human trafficing.I think This has to be corrected or the site shut down.People are predictors and they will lie cheat and steal to get what they want.So they will always find a way to get around the law.Its sad but true.

Margaret B.
Margaret B7 years ago

THere are a boatloat of abuses on Craigslist... this is only ONE of them.