Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

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.

 

craigslist Charitable Fund

April 28, 2010

When Brad Stone at the NY Times asked about craigslist’s charitable organizations, I let him know by email that “The craigslist Charitable Fund is a grant making foundation established and funded by craigslist.” He thanked me for this information several days before his deadline, saying he would be continuing to work on the story.

Here’s what he printed however:

There is also a newer organization, the Craigslist Charitable Trust, which was capitalized in 2008 with $2.7 million by Mr. Buckmaster and Craig Newmark, the company’s founder, according to public documents.

Not sure what “public documents” he’s referring to, but there is no such thing as the “Craigslist Charitable Trust” let alone such an entity funded personally by Mr Buckmaster and Craig Newmark.

For those interested, the craigslist Charitable Fund, established in 2008, and funded by craigslist, focuses on subject areas including the following:

  • peace and disarmament
  • supporting US military veterans
  • human trafficking and child exploitation
  • social justice and civil liberties
  • health and the environment
  • journalism and new media
  • sustainable transportation and energy
  • clean water, poverty, and other developing world issues
  • homelessness and other urban challenges
  • education, and disadvantaged youth

The Fund concentrates on organizations with annual budgets less than $5 million, and on orgs highly rated by CharityNavigator and other rating services.

Inquiries from interested 501(c)3 organizations can be sent to charitable@craigslist.org

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.

 

Grandstanding Coverage

April 27, 2010

From Techdirt’s “Banging Your Head on the Virtual Wall Department” :

The grandstanding of some Attorneys General never ceases — even when they created the “problem” they’re now grandstanding against. Case in point: Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and his crusade against Craigslist.

Blumenthal acted irresponsibly when he put bogus grandstanding pressure on Craigslist to put in place the tollbooth in the first place. At what point does he recognize that Craigslist isn’t the target here. It’s the people using Cragslist to break the law — and that Craigslist is more than willing to help law enforcement track down those law breakers

As always, the Techdirt user comments are worth reading as well.

Speaking of which, if you can get past the gross inaccuracies and apparent absence of fact-checking in Brad Stone’s NYTimes piece, there are some interesting user comments there as well:

Citizens would be better served if law enforcement stopped wasting our money fighting against the very laws they are paid to enforce – the Communications Decency Act and the first amendment to the Constitution – and went after the real criminals who are committing crimes.

Law enforcement – from the attorneys general of the several states down to the local law enforcement agencies – are out to look like they are doing something by pandering to their perceived constituencies. They attack Craiglist, while ignoring others, because such attacks garner them a huge amount of publicity.

Why is Craigslist always singled out for this garbage? Craigslist provides one of the best and most valuable services on the internet. If newspapers wouldn’t have abused their customers for years by overcharging for simple ads, Craigslist wouldn’t be the success it is today. Organizations like the NYT and AIM Group won’t be happy until Craigslist is jacking people like the newsprint industry used to.

Tonight Show up for grabs!

January 15, 2010

Original CL ad is viewable here. Will go quickly, but would be purchasers note that “Buyer must honor Barry Manilow booking next Thursday”

Seek and Ye Shall Find

June 18, 2009

From Internet News, “Who’s Really Winning the Search Race“:

Yet, as it turns out, the big players aren’t the ones seeing the most growth in search. Instead, it’s Craigslist that leads in percent growth according to comScore. The online classifieds site posting a 12 percent jump in queries from 583 million to 651 million from April to May.

Here’s the data, with search queries denominated in millions:

Entities Apr-09 May-09 Growth
Google Sites 13,041 13,035 0%
Yahoo Sites 3,161 3,021 -4%
Microsoft Sites 1,250 1,194 -4%
AOL LLC 795 721 -9%
Ask Network 705 691 -2%
craigslist 583 651 12%
MySpace Sites 658 636 -3%
eBay 654 634 -3%
Amazon Sites 188 185 -2%
Facebook 176 184 5%

Running Hot and Cold

May 22, 2009

AP reporter Meg Kinnard has revealed that Defendant McMaster has not prosecuted so much as a single prostitution case in his 7 years as SC Attorney General, and has not objected to local newspapers running adult service ads, choosing instead to attack SF-based craigslist:

Ann Bartow, a professor of Internet law at the University of South Carolina School of Law, said McMaster’s decision to take on Craigslist and not local newspapers that advertise escort services suggests political motivations.

“Why Craigslist? Newspapers run the same ads, but they have people locally who would stand up for them, and he didn’t want to alienate the newspapers that would be reporting on his campaign,” Bartow said.

 

Turning a Blind Eye

May 22, 2009

Noteable as this news cycle winds down ( “Craigslist Pwns McMaster,” “Pandering Has Its Price,” “Craigslist 1, McMaster 0,” “McMaster’s Final Humiliation” ) has been the absolute disinterest shown by politicians and journalists in hardcore sex-for-money ads featured in journalistic media, no matter how numerous or graphic they may be.

Here are a few out of tens of thousands of “escort ads” featured onbackpage.com adult classifieds owned by Village Voice Media, publisher of achain of weekly newspapers. (WARNING – EXPLICIT SEXUAL CONTENT):

UPDATE – Now deleted ads included photos of sex acts, and price quotes for: “GFE, BBBJ, CIM, greek, swallow, DATY, 69, facials, golden showers, anal”

UPDATE – Screenshot of ad cited above (CAUTION, EXPLICIT SEXUALITY)

These examples were “featured” ads for which Village Voice charged extra, such that this content presumably fell well within their guidelines.

It’s worth noting that these ads’ TITLES ALONE contain more explicit content than you will find in all craigslist adult service ads combined.

Could the blessing of politicos on voluminous pornographic sex-for-money ads in journalistic media have anything to do with the need for positive coverage and campaign endorsements from said media?

As for journalists, is it possible that criticizing craigslist is more career-friendly than taking their own employers (or publishing peers) to task?

Local Coverage of AG McMaster Apology Question

May 19, 2009

Roundup of local South Carolina coverage of the apology we’ve requested from SC AG Henry McMaster.

Kneejerk Henry Gets McMastered (Fitsnews.com of Charleston, SC)

“We reviewed the Greenville “back page ” as well, and it’s not even close. Craigslist is like reading a children’s book by comparison.”

“McMaster is targeting Craigslist for one reason – they’ve been in the news and he can generate easy headlines by going after them. Oh, and since it’s part of his “official duties,” that means taxpayers have to pay for his media barrage / frivilous prosecution.”

Exclusive: ‘Singled out,’ Craigslist chief hits back (The State, Columbia, SC)

“I’m anticipating an apology for these wrongful accusations and an affirmative statement that no such proceedings will be brought against me or other CEOs,” Buckmaster told The State.

Asked if he believed McMaster was targeting his company for political gain, Buckmaster replied, “You’ll have to ask him that.”

“I can imagine my mother is not pleased to have me wrongly accused of being a criminal,” he said.

Bad Publicity Might Backfire (Independent Mail, Anderson, SC)

McMaster set a deadline for all the ads to be removed and when the deadline went unmet, he issued a statement that he “had no alternative but to move forward with criminal investigation and potential prosecution.”

But wait — he does have one alternative: Knock off the publicity ploys and put his efforts toward other concerns, things like scams on the elderly, fake warranty robo-calls and people who prey on others in financial difficulties with “get-out-of-debt” schemes.

Craigslist CEO wants apology from attorney general McMaster(Charleston Regional Business Journal)

“Many prominent companies, including AT&T, Microsoft and Village Voice Media — not to mention major newspapers and other upstanding South Carolina businesses — feature more ‘adult services’ ads than does Craigslist, some of a very graphic nature,” Buckmaster wrote in his blog.

McMaster spokesman Mark Plowden did not return calls this morning for comment.

Craigslist Is Kicking South Carolina’s Ass (Fitsnews.com, Charleston, SC)

S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster’s ongoing campaign to make the Palmetto State look as backward as possible has taken a major step forward this week as a popular technology website (Techcrunch) openly mocked South Carolina for its ongoing “battle” with Craigslist.

Remember – the firms that read sites like Tech Crunch are precisely the sort of companies we want to come to South Carolina, especially now that House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s whole “hydrogen economy” has come crashing down on top of his head.

Now, thanks to McMaster, they’re all laughing at us.

 


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