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Enterprising Toronto teens launch Lego Man into near-space via weather balloon purchased from craigslist:
An interesting Facebook page recently came to our attention, dedicated to the proposition that one can literally “stop human trafficking” by using eBay’s “family friendly” classifieds instead of craigslist.
eBay touts the advanced filtering technologies eBay employs to “make sure all of our categories and content are family-friendly,” technologies it no doubt applies to the “broader eBay Classifieds family including Gumtree, Marktplaats, Mobile.de and Loquo, which extends the reach of eBay Classifieds to more than 20 countries.”
As a practical example of eBay’s “advanced filtering” and “family friendly” classifieds, we’ve been shown some ads currently live on eBay’s Loquo.com classifieds site, which features thousands of paid ads offering various sexual acts in exchange for money (NSFW). The highly explicit photographs included in the following example ads depict young Asian females engaged in unprotected sex, along with rates and a listing of specific sex acts (in Spanish) on offer. DO NOT CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINKS UNLESS YOU ARE PREPARED TO VIEW HARD CORE PORNOGRAPHIC IMAGES OF UNPROTECTED SEX ACTS!
Ad Example #2 had been viewed by more than 10,000 users when the screen shot was taken. Appended to each “eroticos profesionales” ad is a lengthy explanation of how to get more “exposure” by paying additional fees to eBay. Linked below is a screenshot of such upsells, like “visibility pack”, “bump up”, “top ads”, “thumbnail service”, and “highlight a listing.” DO NOT CLICK ON THIS LINK UNLESS PREPARED TO VIEW HARD CORE PORNOGRAPHIC IMAGES OF UNPROTECTED SEX ACTS!
eBay acquired LOQUO in the Spring of 2005, as part of Meg Whitman’s classifieds acquisition strategy, at a time when its “eroticos profesionales” section was present, but with few ads or pictures. Changes would soon be afoot however, and Meg crowed about the growth and profitability of LOQUO on eBay’s Q2 2007 earnings call.
Today, 5 years into eBay’s “family friendly” management of this now very large business, and with eBay well aware of all the protective measures craigslist has implemented, there is no sign of eBay manually reviewing ads for content, instructing users to report suspected trafficking or exploitation of minors, or providing contacts for legal authorities or NGO hotlines. This despite the President of Spain calling for an advertising ban due to trafficking concerns in Spain. eBay does not appear to be doing phone verification or supporting parental control software either.
Some have scoffed at all of the industry-leading protective measures craigslist has taken with respect to adult services ads over the years, including a stringent manual screening process, and policies and procedures aimed specifically at combating exploitation and trafficking. It’s worth remembering what you get when all these measures are omitted. eBay’s LOQUO is a prime example. Here is another.
Meg Whitman didn’t mention eBay’s paid hard-core pornographic ads offering unprotected sex acts for sale to eBay investors when talking up the growth and profitability of LOQUO during eBay earnings calls, and I’m not aware that subsequent management has done so either.
Similarly, there is no reference to eBay classifieds depicting unprotected sex for sale with potentially underage and/or trafficked persons on the Stop Human Trafficking by Using eBay Classifieds Facebook page.
Nor is there any mention of the countless millions in eBay pornography sales revenue that earned Meg the nickname “Porn Queen.”
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.”
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:
- They recognize that “declassifying” adult services ads would simply push them back into the personals categories, therefore you need to eliminate all personals.
- 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.
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):
- I am a nasty freaky girl who loves sucking cock (Chicago)
- An Irish blowjob and a cum showering rainbow (New York)
- Cum lay your hotdog on my bun for memorial day (Dallas)
- Doing men 18 to 65 with trucker parking (Toledo)
- Three holes anything goes $90 – GREEK included (New Jersey)
- Can u fuck my tight pussy hard ask for alexis – age 18 (Atlanta)
- Thick meaty transexual treat (Philadelphia)
- I luv 2 suk n fuk – age 18 (Phoenix)
- Deep throating full service freak (Orlando)
- I gotta big a$$ fat pu$$y big boobs need I say more (St Louis)
- Enjoy multiple orgasms with “Flavor” (Myrtle Beach, SC)
- Let me put you to bed backdoor available $80 (Columbia, SC)
- Ebony slut will blow u away wet n ready 4 u gfe (Greenville, SC)
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?