I have found jobs, roommates, apartments and the chair I am sitting in on Craigslist. I have used your services while living in three cities on two continents. It is fair to say that one of the ways that I engage with my community is through Craigslist.
It is for these reasons that I am empowered to write: Craig Newmark, I am disappointed in you. Last year, you took bold action when you announced that you would remove the erotic services section from Craigslist. It is a well-known fact that your website is used for the illegal sale and trafficking of minors—both girls and boys. But, then, you replaced erotic services with adult services which contains the same content. It is the SAME content. The language is a bit different. The pictures are slightly less graphic. But it is essentially the same. Craig, you have to change more than the name.
It is estimated that you will make $36 million from your adult services ads this year. Conservative estimates hold that at least 150,000 children, mostly girls, have been sold through your ads. The ads which sell these children make up as much as a third of your business. You’ve said,
I think we all need to work together to make things better for everyone, deriving from basic shared values, essentially Sunday School fundamentals: treat people like you want to be treated; and now and then, give the other person a break, like being your brother’s or sister’s keeper.
But by maintaining your adult services, you are complicit in the sale of girls. You are making roughly $242 per girl. That’s a value I do not share. Craigslist claims to put community before profits, yet your company violates a basic human ethic.
Craigslist, in all fairness, is working with law enforcement and is not the only culpable party. Certainly, hotels and airlines also generate profits in the sex traffic supply chain. Unfortunately, the actions taken by Craigslist in response to this problem are not working. A warning on the adult services home page and the threat of legal action are not enough.
Craig, I have met you, I spoken with you and I do not believe that you think a child’s life is only worth $242.
You lent this community your name. So, I am calling you out by name. Craig, profiteering from the sale of children is unacceptable. You are better than that. So start acting like it.
Here are a few options for you to consider:
1) Daylight the Data: Like crime statistics, you should publicize the number and originating zip codes of ads that have been removed for suspected exploitation of minors.
2) Make it Easier to Report: A report button should be prominent on every ad–not just the adult services homepage.
3) Take Down Adult Services: You know that minors are trafficked through your website. You can choose to take yourself and our online community out of the supply chain. Children will continue to be sold, but you won’t be the one selling them.
In the meantime, I am posting Spark’s job opening on Facebook.