Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Split Decision in Delaware

September 9, 2010

We are pleased with the Chancellor Chandler’s split decision, which he foreshadowed in his concluding remarks at trial. As the Chancellor opines intoday’s ruling, “more fortunate than Goliath, eBay leaves this field with only a gash across its forehead; less fortunate than David, craigslist leaves this field with something less than total victory.”

He affirmed craigslist’s “Staggered Board Amendments,” finding they were approved “in good faith to prevent eBay, a business competitor, from having access to confidential craigslist board discussions.” He also provided valuable guidance to fiduciaries of closely-held private companies like craigslist, when carrying out their obligations to protect against conflicted, duplicitous, and/or predatory shareholders.

The Chancellor deferred to “the California judiciary” to decide “whether eBay’s use of craigslist’s non-public information or its competitive activity was unlawful.” These and craigslist’s other claims will now be taken up in San Francisco before Superior Court Judge Richard A. Kramer, in craigslist vs eBay, filed May 2008 but stayed pending today’s ruling.

Manual Screening Matters

August 18, 2010

craigslist is committed to being socially responsible, and when it comes to adult services ads, that includes aggressively combating violent crime and human rights violations, including human trafficking and the exploitation of minors. We are working intensively as I write this with experts and thought leaders at leading non-profits and among law enforcement on further substantive measures we can take. We are profoundly grateful to those offering us their expert assistance in this regard.

One of the many recommendations we hear from experts at NGOs, in law enforcement, and from politicians and regulators, is that craigslist is uniquely positioned to lead by example, and to exert influence over other advertising venues to follow in its footsteps. Indeed, as we intensify our efforts to make further forward progress, we continue to be hopeful that other companies will take an interest in adopting measures we have had in place for years.

craigslist implemented manual screening of adult services ads in May of 2009. Since that time, before being posted each individual ad is reviewed by an attorney licensed to practice law in the US, trained to enforce craigslist’s posting guidelines, which are stricter than those typically used by yellow pages, newspapers, or any other company that we are aware of. More than 700,000 ads were rejected by those attorneys in the year following implementation of manual screening, for falling short of our guidelines. Our uniquely intensive manual screening process has resulted in a mass exodus of those unwilling to abide by craigslist’s standards, manually enforced on an ad-by-ad basis.

Manual screening matters. We are proud of the difference it has made, along with the other measures we have taken. However, there is no shortage of US companies that have not yet implemented manual screening for this ad category, or any other of the steps that craigslist has taken, and that have not yet exhibited any interest in combating human trafficking and the exploitation of minors, and other forms of violence and human rights violations.

One of those companies, interestingly, is eBay — despite their touting their sites as a “family friendly” alternatives to craigslist. In response to criticismabout their management of one such site, LOQUO.com, where eBay offers tens of thousands of exceptionally hardcore pornographic ads explicitly offering sex for sale, yesterday eBay blocked access to all US IP addresses, presumably so that eBay investors, journalists, and other interested parties could not see. All the ads are still up, and can be viewed via proxy IPs.

Techcrunch has further coverage on these developments, and notes that eBay plans to eventually take down these types of listings as part of its “process of ensuring all of its sites are in alignment with its family-friendly values.” I’ll make a friendly wager that rather than taking down such listings, which eBay has aggressively marketed over the years to a very high level of profitability, upselling their users to higher and higher fees, eBay will instead soon sell their “non family friendly” sites such as this one to the highest bidder.

Back in the US, another company that does not manually screen adult ads, or take any of the other preventative measures that craigslist takes, is Village Voice Media’s backpage.com. When craigslist implemented manual screening of adult ads in May 2009, adult ads on backpage spiked by a factor of 5-10x, and you can see from the graph below that their page view traffic, which was flat until we implemented manual screening, more than quadrupled in the year following.

In addition to public nudges such as this blog entry, we’d like to offer our help to companies such as eBay and Backpage that may be interested in developing best practices. CEOs of such companies can email me directly, or you can drop us an email at legal@craigslist.org.

CL SJM seeks SCOTUS nominee

May 17, 2010

CO Lt Governorship up for grabs

May 13, 2010

In regard to the responses his ad has generated so far, he resists breaking down percentages by serious inquiries versus goofs. “That’s a judgment call, right?” he asks, laughing. But he’s been impressed with the quality of quite a few contacts — although, thus far, the best of the batch are folks who weren’t listed as independents prior to the aforementioned deadline. “They’ll say, ‘I’m registered as a Republican, but I’ll switch,’” he allows. “And unfortunately, that won’t work.”

However, he’s got around fifteen new submissions he hasn’t had a chance to examine thus far, giving him confidence that he’ll find a worthy running mate by his planned announcement press conference, slated for 5 p.m. Friday, May 28

http://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archives/2010/05/11/candidate-seeks-running-mate-on-craigslist

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2010/05/craigslist_ad_want_to_run_for.php

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/10/jason-clark-colorado-gube_n_570040.html

Deja Blumenthal

May 3, 2010

True to form, CT AG Blumenthal is once again indulging in self-serving publicity at the expense of the truth and his constituents — touting a subpoena on television and telling whoppers about craigslist “reneging” on promises — even before craigslist had been served with a subpoena.

As AG Blumenthal knows full well, craigslist has gone beyond fulfilling its legal obligations, far beyond classifieds industry norms, has more than lived up to any promises it made, and working together with its partners is in fact a leader in the fight against human trafficking and exploitation.

With his senatorial race in full swing however, AG Blumenthal won’t let the facts get in the way of a good photo op. Or as I heard while in his offices 2 years ago — “The most dangerous place on earth is getting caught between Dick Blumenthal and a television camera.”

 

Shutting down CL personals

April 29, 2010

There is a “campaign” on twitter currently demanding that all of craigslist personals be shut down.

If you follow links supplied by the twitterers echoing this demand, you’ll find a couple of themes:

  1. They recognize that “declassifying” adult services ads would simply push them back into the personals categories, therefore you need to eliminate all personals.
  2. They believe casual sex, and sex outside of marriage, is happening in CL personals. Such sex is evil. Therefore CL personals are evil. Shut down CL personals.

This twitter campaign echos reasoning we have previously heard from Attorneys General, at least one of whom also essentially demanded that all of craigslist personals be shut down.

As reported in Wired, craigslist personals are the most used personals site in the US, dwarfing the total combined usage of match.com and eharmony.com and yahoo personals. CL personals are highly valued by craigslist users (and by the general public) who use them to find friendship, love, romance, companionship, entertainment, and yes, “casual encounters.”

The twitterers do have a point – declassifying “adult services” on a free classifieds board likely necessitates removing all personals categories (and probably services categories as well). Some of them point to eBay’s kijiji.com, kijiji.ca, and gumtree.com sites, which recently eliminated all personals categories, as a model to be followed in this regard.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and we embrace all criticism as useful in improving our approach. But cynical misuse of a cause as important as human trafficking as a pretense for imposing one’s own flavor of religious morality (”casual sex is evil”) strikes me as wrong on so many levels.

We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement and advocacy groups, and reach out to potential new ones, as we strive to do the best job we can in combating human trafficking, while preserving the full-fledged classifieds (complete with all of the free personals categories) that CL users (and the general public) want and deserve.

 

Sad State of Affairs at the New York Times

April 28, 2010

We’re receiving inquiries about the gross inaccuracies and absence of fact checking I cited in Monday’s New York Time article by Brad Stone. There are quite a few, but I’ll start walking through them. Let’s start with this one:

The ads, many of which blatantly advertise prostitution, are expected to bring $36 million this year, according to a new projection of Craigslist’s income.

Each ad submitted to “adult services” on CL is manually screened by one or more human reviewers. Ads that “blatantly advertise prostitution” are summarily rejected.  The phrase “many of which blatantly advertise prostitution” is so patently false (and damaging) that another phrase comes to mind – “actionably defamatory”. In fact, the NY Times article probably violated multiple tenets of the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics.  More on that later.

Although you won’t find them in CL “adult services,” there are plenty of places where such ads *can* be found in great abundance.

For example, most if not all adult service ads featured by The Village Voice’sbackpage.com (which carries more adult ads than CL in most US cities) would be rejected by our manual reviewers — and in fact, quite a few of them, if submitted to CL, would be reported by our reviewers to NCMEC’s cybertipline.

Here’s an ad with photos (NSFW) of bare genitalia (CL reviewers reject ads with nude pictures), describing specific sex acts offered (CL reviewers reject ads with sexual language or code words):

******Ev3Ry !!! M@N’s!///!!% W3tt ***Dre@M __ CuM%TruE*** – 24

Watch closely as i bounce my fat luscious, juicy apple bottom booty up & down ure big c*ck!!! 80Roses** Quk $e$$ion 100Roses** Half Hr 140Roses** Full Hr200 Roses.

This ad offers “greek” in exchange for 100 “kisses” in the ad title (CL reviewers reject such ads):

♥ ♥ SexY EXxXOTiC BuSTii B@RB!E (( g/r/3/3/k)) ♥ ♥ 100 kisses – 21

The following ad, if submitted to CL’s review team, would have been reported to NCMEC’s cybertipline:

** I JuST TuRNeD 18 YeSTeRDaYY** FiNaLLY LeGal – 18

my parents are at work and im all alone jus waiting for someone to cum inside and invade my young, barely legal, juicy, suculant love nest.

I’m now hearing that AG Blumenthal was quite taken aback this morning when a CNN reporter had the audacity to ask him why he was spending all of his time on craigslist when Village Voice carries more adult ads of a far more graphic nature — but does not manually screen them or take any of the other steps CL does to combat trafficking. Senatorial candidate AG Blumenthal hemmed and hawed (as he’s done for the past year) but really does not have a good answer for this question.

 

Misdirected Outrage

April 27, 2010

Senatorial candidate CT AG Blumenthal is again pointing a misguided finger of blame at a faithful partner of law enforcement.

Misuse of craigslist for criminal purposes is utterly unacceptable, and craigslist continues to work with its partners in law enforcement and at NGOs to eliminate it. Among the many steps CL has taken that collectively set it far ahead of the countless other companies accepting adult service ads (including many among the Fortune 500) when it comes to combating crime:

  • educating and encouraging CL users to report trafficking/exploitation
  • prominently featuring a directory of trafficking/exploitation resources
  • providing specialized anti-trafficking tools for law enforcement
  • providing support for law enforcement anti-crime sweeps and stings
  • actively participating in NCMEC’s cybertipline program
  • meeting regularly with experts at NGOs and in law enforcement
  • manually reviewing every adult service ad submitted
  • requiring phone verification for every adult service ad
  • implementing the PICS content labeling system

craigslist figures in newspaper “crime stories” periodically in part because it is extremely law enforcement friendly — we are known for our responsiveness to law enforcement inquiries, and we actively assist in sweeps and stings — and those foolish enough to misuse the site in connection with crime are disproportionately likely to get caught.

Of the thousands of US venues that carry adult service ads, including ones operated by some of our largest and best known companies, craigslist has done the best and most responsible job of combating child exploitation and human trafficking. Period. We would challenge anyone to find a company that goes anywhere near the lengths to which CL does.

Lagging behind (to mention but a few) are the large mainstream internet portals, the major search engines, large telephone companies (yellow pages), major newspapers, chain operators of alternative weeklies, etc — which derive vastly more revenue from adult service ads than craigslist, while doing far less than craigslist to combat exploitation/trafficking.

Better questions for AG Blumenthal — questions I understand he is finally starting to be asked — where is his “outrage” toward all of these companies? Why does he continue to offer a free pass to larger venues that have yet to take any of the positive steps CL has already taken? Why continue to scapegoat craigslist?

Catapult Expert Sought for Rush Job

March 27, 2010

“Group of Investors looking for experienced carpenter to build over-sized catapult sturdy enough to fling Rush Limbaugh all the way to Costa Rica and help him make good on his promise to leave the country if the health care reform bill became law.”

Dart Dismissed

October 21, 2009

US District Court Judge John F. Grady has summarily dismissed Sheriff Dart’s suit against craigslist, concluding:

Sheriff Dart may continue to use craigslist’s website to identify and pursue individuals who post allegedly unlawful content. But he cannot sue craigslist for their conduct

Here is the full text of the judge’s ruling

Matt Zimmerman at the EFF has excellent analysis and commentary:

Meritless cases brought by law enforcement officers, amounting to little more than publicity stunts with little to no chance of success, do little to address the officers’ underlying concerns.


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