Deja Blumenthal

May 3, 2010 by

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 by

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 by

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 by

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 by

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?

Grandstanding Coverage

April 27, 2010 by

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.

Catapult Expert Sought for Rush Job

March 27, 2010 by

“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.”

Jessica Alba, CL enthusiast

January 21, 2010 by

The actress as quoted in a recent interview:

I’ve bought 70 percent of my house off Craigslist! I’ve found so many things: couches, tables, lamps. I love the idea of recycling furniture and there being a history there.

Google News

 

CoCo, “ripped,” goes casual

January 19, 2010 by

Tonight Show up for grabs!

January 15, 2010 by

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


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