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.”