Craigslist CEO Responds To Allegations The Site Is A Hub For Child Prostitution

Two young women, identifying themselves only as “AK and MC,” recently placed a full-page ad in the Washington Post saying they were repeatedly sold and bought through ads on Craigslist, and asking the site to shut down its adult services section.

Writes MC, who claims she was first forced into becoming a prostitute at 11 years old:

All day, me and other girls sat with our laptops, pasting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist, he made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock – and on one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car… Craig we write this letter so you will know from our personal experiences how Craigslist makes horrific acts like this so easy to carry out … and the men who arrange them very rich.

And AK says she ended up a prostitute after meeting an older man who pretended to be romantically interested in her:

He put my picture on Craigslist, and I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night. This became my life… Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me. The $30,000 he pocketed each month was facilitated by Craigslist 300 times.

AK also claimed to be aware of more than 20 other girls who were “taken from city to city, each time sold on a different Craigslist site.”

In his response, posted on the official Craigslist blog, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster says he wants to help get justice for the two young women:

Hearing your accounts of being victimized by criminals who you mention also misused our site, we are anxious to know that the perpetrators are behind bars. Would you or the advocacy groups who placed the ads please let us know where the police reports were filed? We have been unable thus far to identify police reports matching the crimes you describe. If craigslist was misused, we want to learn more so we can improve our preventative measures. If anyone committing such crimes has not yet been apprehended and prosecuted, we want to do everything in our power to assist the police in making that happen.

According to Buckmaster, “criminal misuse of the site is quite rare.” He also lists the various measures the site takes, including “manually reviewing every adult service ad prior to posting” and “requiring phone verification for every adult service ad,” as signs that the site is dedicated to curbing the problem.

On his personal blog, Craigslist’s founder Craig Newmark asked users for their help in stopping crime on the site:

If you know or suspect that any such crime is happening on craigslist:
— send the links to the cops immediately!
— ask the cops to contact us
— send us the links!

If you know of any such crime in the past:
— send us the police reports
— send us anything other hard evidence

While the ad would not disclose specifics about either of the women involved, Fair Fund, the advocacy group that helped pay for the ad, says it had checked the women’s stories out and could vouch for them. Additionally, Fair Fund says AK had met the U.S. Attorney General.

Craigslist is hub for child prostitution, allege trafficked women [Guardian]

Response to AK and MC Ads [craigslist blog]

craigslist needs help getting evidence re human trafficking [cnewmark.com]

Comments

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  1. FatLynn says:

    I don’t see how this could ever be preven–oh, wait, maybe if we legalized and regulated prostitution. Funny how that works.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      Newmark is a lot more clever than people give him credit for

    • foofad says:

      How does legalizing prostitution magically prevent cases where children are being exploited like this?

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        It doesn’t prevent, but studies suggest it would most certainly reduce. If people are pedophiles from the get, that’s one thing, but places like truck stops would become more regulated, which means more authority around.

        In the extreme example, imagine Target decided to start “sponsoring” truck stops with Target-brand coffee shops and Target-brand hookers. Target would want to protect its investments by providing at the very least a security guard at every location, privatizing the cost of policing the legalized prostitution, and taking away one more place that child slavers could peddle.

        • Nekoincardine says:

          Funny thing is that I could totally see Target doing that… And they’d probably do a better job securing it than any vice department ever reliably could.

      • TuxedoCartman says:

        By freeing up vice-department resources. So cops spend time and money tracking down child-rapists and human traffickers, rather than harassing 23-year old women who think turning tricks to make money is an acceptable lifestyle choice.

    • Link_Shinigami says:

      It is. They are called call girls or some other pretty name. It’s illegal to go from the street, but places operate perfectly fine as call girls/other names that are basically established places of business

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      You want to legalize child prostitution?

    • Marshmelly says:

      legalizing prostitution prevents child prostitution/rape? I’m all for legalizing it, but I doubt there will be any correlation.

    • jayde_drag0n says:

      Hey have you heard of this place called Amsterdam? Prostitution is legal there.. but guess what they STILL HAVE? HUMAN TRAFFICKING, of children and adults into the sex trade.. Oh guess legalizing it didn’t solve the problem, what’s your next fix?

  2. econobiker says:

    And craigcrimelist.com will help educate you why it is inf act what they say it is…

    • Doubts42 says:

      Checked out your link.
      1. that is a blog written by a guy with a grudge, not exactly a bastion of unbiased reporting.
      2. Every single accusation he posts could be leveled against any newspaper with a classified section. I mean come on, some guy goes cruising for gay sex on a website, arranges a hook up with an anonymous stranger and ends up getting stabbed by a crazed homophobe. How is that a website’s fault?

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        This. That blog is horrifyingly slanted. I mean…really, really bad from the perspective of anyone with a high school education. The fact that anyone pointed to this as “proof” of the girls’ veracity is depressing in the extreme.

        I like the part where he calles Newmark a “child” and a “flunky” without actually offering any…anything really. He’s just slinging insults without stating a basis for his KNOWLEDGE that CL is wrong.

        • econobiker says:

          While the blogger maybe a dunce, the collection of incidences he references may show a pattern that is evidence what may going on illegally via craigslist.

      • econobiker says:

        Review the human trafficing and crime issues via craigslist and you might see a pattern…

    • celeb8 says:

      Not sure what the preceding comment was actually supposed to mean…

      Anyway good response Craig! Well and carefully phrased so if this is the activist attention-whoring BS it sounds like, it’ll be outed for what it is, while if it’s real, he doesn’t look like a jerk for disregarding real people getting hurt this way.

  3. Mike says:

    This is terrible, but it is hardly the fault of Craigslist, it is the fault of the awful people who engage in human trafficking. If not craigslist, then some other site will be used. The entire internet is a hub for child prostitution. I really have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that people do this sort of think in the US. These people are less than human, disgusting.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      Not only that, but CL is entirely within its rights to want to know that these ads aren’t being placed by special interest groups for s&g. Remember that chick who cut “Obama” into her own face to make it look like crazy liberals were attacking random, innocent conservatives on the street?

      The adult services site is, I think, an important aspect of the CL community, and they ought to exhibit due diligence before deciding to take it down.

    • Megalomania says:

      This is terrible, but it is not Craiglist’s fault. That this happens at all is beyond terrible, but it’s a giant forum, intended for buying and selling things. You might as well blame gmail if this was happening over email messages.

      Assuming this is not some sort of hoax, the correct thing to do is contact both the police and Craigslist so that they track down the scum doing the buying and selling, not to make some emotional plea to the masses.

  4. AI says:

    Personally, I blame the keyboard manufacturers. If they policed what was typed into their products, we could avoid this issue even before it gets to Craigslist.

  5. evnmorlo says:

    If an 11-year-old is in the complete control of a pimp her life isn’t going to pleasant no matter where her customers come from.

  6. MustardTiger says:

    Even underage kids who have no intention of making money use Craigslist to hook-up with older men/women. My bestfriend used to do it, ugh, I’d get an e-mail saying “I’ll be at this address tonight, if you don’t hear from me tomorrow, call the police.” I’ve seen better age verification methods used on mainstream movie websites than what you can find on Craigslist.

    • Mike says:

      Just out of curiosity, where were your friend’s parents?

    • hoi-polloi says:

      I mean no disrespect, but can you provide an example? Granted, most sites I use don’t require age verification. For those that do, I can plug in any date that would make me over a certain age. The only verification is of basic math skills.

    • evnmorlo says:

      A reasonably attractive young girl can easily pick up a guy of her preferred age in any public place in under an hour. Where are the age verifications?!

      • Conformist138 says:

        When I was 10, I had an old man in a grocery store follow me outside to ask me on a date. Yeah, craigslist isn’t the problem- it’s the perverts!

  7. El_Fez says:

    Wow! you can get ANYTHING on craigslist!

  8. Guppy06 says:

    Two people make an anonymous plea to Craigslist to be less anonymous?

    Considering the number of well-funded socially conservative organizations who have an axe to grind against any consensual sex outside of marriage, I’m not prepared to take this at face value. Like Buckmaster asked, where are the police reports?

    • TuxedoCartman says:

      Agree.

    • halfcuban says:

      I disagree; what police reports would there be, exactly? Certainly none during their time under their pimps control, and it is doubtful that a case could be made on solely their testimony against their former abusers. In fact sex crimes in general are not only under-reported, but are faced with a number of procedural and legal hurdles that make them more difficult to lead to arrests and convictions, especially in complicated cases of human trafficking and prostitution. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, nor that the plight of their isn’t true.

      More importantly the fact that Christian organizations in this country have used human trafficking as a cudgel in order to be repressive towards sexual freedoms does not undermine the very real problem of human trafficking in this country.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        The so-called advocacy group that posted the ad should help the abused girls to file police reports in each jurisdiction where they were abused. Police reports are filed every day based on the word of a person who says they were harmed. True – it doesn’t mean that anyone will be arrested, but it should at least lead to a cursory investigation by a crappy police dept, and a more thorough investigation by a good one.

    • StopTrafficking says:

      “who have an axe to grind against any consensual sex outside of marriage” 11-year-olds can’t legally consent to have sex. And if they’re being forced by a pimp, well, that isn’t really consensual, is it?

      • strathmeyer says:

        Hint: in this scenario, the well funded conservative organizations are the ones pimping eleven year olds.

  9. calchip says:

    My problem with Craigslist is their ridiculous rose-colored glasses view of the world.

    And they are making obscene amounts of money, but refuse to actually hire any real staff to deal with these sorts of problems, and when you make a complaint or send an email to Jim Buckmaster, their CEO, the only response you get back, if you get one at all, is IN FUCKING HAIKU. He thinks it’s “cute” or “quaint” or something. What it is is passive-aggressive avoidance of responsibility.

    Craig Newmark, the majority owner of the thing, claims to be a “customer service representative” for the company and dodges all questions that are difficult, have any moral responsibilty, or make any mention of how much money they are raking in, and passes the buck to Buckmaster, who only talks in haiku.

    I did have respect for them, but now it’s gotten to the point of complete irresponsibility couched in a veneer of “everything is wonderful and beautiful and our users will do the right thing”

    That might have been true back in 2000 when it was only in the SF bay area. But not now.

    • RAEdwards says:

      But doesn’t a Haiku show that he had to take time to think out and craft a response?

    • Nick1693 says:

      I might suggest you don’t use any of Automattic‘s products.

    • Guppy06 says:

      Craig Newmark, the majority owner of the thing, (…) dodges all questions that are difficult, have any moral responsibilty,

      “Moral responsibility?” That reminds me of another group of people with an axe to grind when it comes to Craigslist: law enforcement, who prefer dealing with businesses that collect a great deal of personally identifiable information and then “cooperatively” disclose it without a warrant.

      http://www.fairfund.org/subpage.asp?P=about&S=default

      I note the first financial contributor the group lists is the US DOJ, and I recall that the group has claimed both individuals have personally met with the Attorney General himself.

      So, basically, this whole campaign is funded by a group of people who want to be granted the ability to sift through the private, salacious details of hundreds or thousands of perfectly legitimate exchanges in the name of finding one or two illegal acts.

      Because if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      The guy runs a site where people go to sell rarely-used exercise bikes and rent out their spare bedrooms.

      When did he get into the business of law enforcement?

  10. calchip says:

    My problem with Craigslist is their ridiculous rose-colored glasses view of the world.

    And they are making obscene amounts of money, but refuse to actually hire any real staff to deal with these sorts of problems, and when you make a complaint or send an email to Jim Buckmaster, their CEO, the only response you get back, if you get one at all, is IN FUCKING HAIKU. He thinks it’s “cute” or “quaint” or something. What it is is passive-aggressive avoidance of responsibility.

    Craig Newmark, the majority owner of the thing, claims to be a “customer service representative” for the company and dodges all questions that are difficult, have any moral responsibilty, or make any mention of how much money they are raking in, and passes the buck to Buckmaster, who only talks in haiku.

    I did have respect for them, but now it’s gotten to the point of complete irresponsibility couched in a veneer of “everything is wonderful and beautiful and our users will do the right thing”

    That might have been true back in 2000 when it was only in the SF bay area. But not now.

    • evnmorlo says:

      You’re the one with rose-colored glasses if you think censorship ever leads to anything positive.

  11. JMILLER says:

    My problem is with somebody thinking craigslist should do the job of the police. If you want to end child prostitution you could cut off every mans penis too. Why does craigslist OR ANY OTHER site bear any responsibility for somebodies illegal activity? If people who use the telephone for illegal activity should we shut down Verizon, or ATT? I once saw a guy sell drugs at a college football game. Should we now get a record of every ticket holder and do a massive search of the 111k people who attended the game.
    How about parents take care of their freaking kids and stop thinking it is craigslists or anybody elses job

  12. jim says:

    if you want to end child prostitution then legalize prostitution and tax it. Seems like you get a two-fer. I doubt many men will perform illegal acts when there are legal options available.

    • TuxedoCartman says:

      I think the people who want to have sex with children aren’t going to be swayed very much by legalizing negotiable affections with 21-year olds. However, like I pointed out above, if vice-squads around the country focused solely on human-traffickers and child-pimps, and left the grown women who choose prostitution as a career alone, then it would bring a lot more resources to bear on stopping the problem.

  13. jayde_drag0n says:

    Look to all the people who think legalizing prostitution will put an end to human trafficking.. you are idiots. Ever heard of a place called Amsterdam? Well its legal there, and they have a big problem with the trafficking of women and children into sex work. Feel free to watch the BBC’s program Amsterdam Nights. The second claim is that people seem to think that a lot of women want to legally be prostitutes.. Lets check back in with the Amsterdam red-Light Police Shall we? “if we got rid of all the girls who are here by force.. we would have 5 windows
    the problem is we KNOW they are there unwillingly.. but we cannot prove it.. so there is nothing we can do except prevent them from getting beaten or stolen from”

    Oh and lets not forget the child part of this equation, pedophiles are NOT attracted to adults.. they are not having sex with children because they LACK an adult to have sex with. They GET OFF on having sex with children.. you will not “turn” them by legalizing prostitution… What gets you off.. is what gets you off

  14. Conformist138 says:

    Ugh. So, Craigslist is missing all the kiddie porn and tiny-tot hookers being pimped out, but just this morning I had my personal ad flagged and removed. I got an email from a guy claiming to be a moderator who demanded I “Post a photo of you or none at all! All future violations will be flagged and removed!”

    The offence? I used HTML to link to a photo illustration of the evolution of man. I said a man for me should be “To the right in the chart, to the left in his politics, and centered in his approach to life.” But, that linked image wasn’t of ME, so I got removed.

    But, hey, all the child porn and prostitution is just flying right under the radar. I don’t know what to believe about any of it.

  15. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    What I don’t understand is why law enforcement agencies aren’t using the Craigslist ads to find and stop prostitution.

    I know that many cities and counties send undercover cops to entrap prostitues. To me it seems that the same police could use Craigslist as a tool to catch the people that are violating underage girls.

    Also – why won’t Fair Fund tell Craigslist anything about where police reports were filed. Seems that they would’ve filed police reports in each city where the girls/women said they were raped.

  16. chbrules says:

    The obvious answer, “It’s all Craigslist’s fault!”