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New craigslist measures regarding human trafficking and spam fighting

Folks, it's taken a lot of time and effort, but we're announcing some big moves today.

Jim Buckmaster, our CEO, has been working with Attorneys General throughout the country, law enforcement, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NCMEC. Jim's done a great job.

We'll be working together to fight predators, which includes charging in our "erotic services" category. 100% of profits from this will be contributed to charity. An external accounting firm will be retained to track the details. We will NOT profit from this.

Ad spammers take advantage of craigslist, and we don't tolerate that. We'll be discussing this with ad spam technology providers and others in court. We're not litigious, but this is a good complement to our technology efforts.

More info at blog.craigslist.org

Tags: | 28 Responses »

28 Responses to New craigslist measures regarding human trafficking and spam fighting

Michael Murdock says:

Craig – Good to see this happening. I know that's been a problem for a long time. Nice to see you guys moving forward with doing something about it. Thanks!
Michael Murdock, CEO

EBMurphy says:

Thank you Craig! This is amazing. Thank you for not turning a blind eye to this situation and for using your site to do even more good. I wish you all the success in the world.

CL User says:

Thanks, that sounds like an awesome plan Craig.
I assume you are aware, but charging over in the ES section is going to increase the SPAM in M4W, W4M, W4W, M4M and CE sections as well, although I hope your anti-spam methods will be able to help compensate for those increases.
It's a never ending battle, I just hope that the other side is only on top for a short time before we can retake the mountain.

Sarah says:

When nonprofit organizations and charities advertise, they are legally required to post their registration/charity/license number. Why is this not enforced on craigslist.org? If it was, then the fake charity in Skowhegan, ME would not be allowed to post multiple ads in various categories and subsequently "fleece" the good, kind, hard-working people of the state. Ad ID 902319551 is an example.

CL user says:

Ma'am, you are acting like a crazy lady, this is entirely innappropriate to be posting your grievances here.
CL staff is quite busy with a lot of different things, and vetting every single post on the site is not one of the things they have the ability to do, which is why they have the flagging system on the site.
Go use the systems and forums and email abuse@craigslist.org with any concerns you have, not craig's personal blog.

Delia says:

CL user: you are talking like a "crazy person", yourself:)… — "the systems" just don't work in the vast majority of cases (nowhere enough craigslist "customer service" people)
Delia
P.S. apparently, Craig & Co just don't want to spend the money so people like Sarah are just left to talk to themselves until they figure out they are just wasting their time and move on…
P.P.S. assuming Craig reads the comments (fair assumption I would think — there really aren't that many), Sarah has publicly (on his blog) brought to his attention that something clearly illegal keeps being posted in a particular place on craigslist — I would think that this would make craigslist legally obligated to do something about it… but I could be wrong… D.

twodogkd says:

Great, a couple of comments, gotta go can't clean this up.
Human Trafficking (predators and charging in Erotic Svs Category)
Hummm. Some folks are soliciting in other categories such as EVENTS on sites in areas like the Inland Empire where we don’t have so many folks educated about flagging.
Here are a couple of examples, at the top of the Inland Empire Craigslist Events ads, looks like mostly one number with numerous ads, but it is a deterrent to local folks to use the events category.
10/24-11/6: Our strippers and exotic dancers are waiting… call 909-349-7643 -
10/24-11/6: Need a "one-on-one" or multi girl stripper show… 909-349-7643? -
10/25-11/8: Passion Parties by Ashley – (Inland Empire Area )
10/27-11/7: Precious Entertainment strippers are waiting for you call 909-349-7643 –
10/28-11/8: We are waiting to entertain you! Call 909-349-7643 for a stripper NOW! -
10/29-11/12: Planning a party & need strippers – Call NOW at 909-349-7643 -
Spam Fighting (discussing this with ad spam tech providers and others in court.
 Good suggestion re nonprofits and charities about posting license #, but what stops scammers from using real license numbers in their ads?
FLAG EDUCATION
In areas with few flaggers, some type of help could be used in educating folks how and when to flag. Guess the flag forum is one option to answer that. I know I have told numerous people about Craigslist and flagging, but we still don’t have many flaggers done here in the Inland Empire.

CL user says:

Dear Delia,
Again, this is not the right place to be airing such grievances.
Craig and Clint both responded and simply asked her for more information and evidence for the claims she was making.
I have looked at the things Sarah mentions, and even looked at the blog she created. In looking at these posts she talks about, there is nothing illegal going on based on those posts.
She claims it to be a scam, but offers no proof why it is a scam. It appears to be a woman who accepts drop offs for donations, and allows other people to come get those things again for free.
I also wonder what kind of investigation she has done when she lives in another country over 700 miles away from this supposed scam.
From what I can tell, in this situation, Sarah is wasting her time by harassing what appear to be someone who's just doing something to help other people in a grassroots effort.
I didn't realize helping people was a scam and illegal nowadays.

Delia says:

CLuser:
re:"Again, this is not the right place to be airing such grievances." –> I agree, Sarah would do much better to contact people like Richard Blumenthal who are in the position to *make* craigslist do something about it… (like he did re: prostitution)
what more could craigslist want Sarah to do than tell them this?:"There is a fake charity in Skowhegan ME. I contacted the Town office and Dept of State. This KIM has no license to run a charity."
all craigslist would have had to do is do what Sarah already did (for *them*) — pick up the phone and verify that KIM has no license to run a charity –> this would have taken less time and effort than emailing back and forth and demanding that *Sarah* PROVES what she just told them (how ridiculous)
Delia
P.S. they are apparently annoyed that she found out there is something illegal going on and would like her to shut up and move on…D.

Delia says:

CL User: as far as I can tell, if KIM is doing something illegal and posting it on craigslist, craigslist is legally obligated to remove her ads once it is made aware of the fact. I believe Sarah gave them all the information she needed to give them (they could have easily verified if KIM has a license to run a charity or not).
Delia
P.S. I believe that posting on the craigslist boards regarding such things is a waste of time (look how much good it did regarding prostitution before Blumenthal got involved) D.

CL User says:

Delia,
If you would like to discuss this, please go to the link I put there, we can discuss it back and forth between ourselves instead of here.
Obviously you feel it is not a waste of time to engage me in a discussion, which is all I have asked, and this is not the place for such a discussion.
Either go there to discuss with me about it, because any further responses by you here just means you are a person who can't follow a simple request and commonly accepted internet courtesies.
You can feel free to email me if you wish as well, CLEmail@comcast.net

sarah says:

I agree with Delia, that flagging and posting on CL IS a waste of time. Nothing gets accomplished by doing it and when I attempted to post to the forums, I was told it was the inappropriate place to ask questions, make comments, and post a complaint (CL user, that appears to be your fav catchphrase. Who are you anyway, CL or Craig?).
As for sending mail to abuse@craigslist.org, well that is a colossal waste of time. All that it seems to have accomplished for me, is to junk up my mailbox.
Now, for the ads on CL. Well, it is wrong. These donations should be going to registered charities, who pay the licensing fees, and abide by laws and regulations. In his day, Robin Hood wasn't performing legal acts either!
Just because this person "states" that she is giving to others, does not mean that she actually is. My husband and I often give to others who need, but we don't beg online for "freebies" which we sometimes turn around and sell for profit, and we don't self-promote to boost our egos. We also have our favorite charities.
Kim also states in many of her ads that she also sells snacks, sodas, chips and baked goods. She doesn't have a vendor's license for that.
She started posting the ads, by stating that she had a petting zoo for handicapped kids. It eventually "morphed" into the outrageous diatribe of simultaneous self-promotion and begging, which it has now become.

Sarah says:

In response to that derogatory piece of hate mail you sent to me, the following is FYI.:
Your diagnosis is totally wrong. I quote directly from the letter: "Please go learn a few things about how to post and make your postings legible and easy to read, because as they stand now, they look like the rantings of the old single crazy cat lady in town." Do you have a medical degree or any credentials as a clinical psychologist/psychiatrist?
I am neither old nor am I a crazy cat lady. I happen to love animals and all that mother nature has to offer, with my favorite animals being felines, large and small, from the cute little housecat to the majestic tiger. Tame animals, domestic animals, farm animals, wild animals, I love them all! I am not only happily married to the man of my dreams, I am ecstatically married to him. Oh yes, my feelings are reciprocated. Do you have anything totally amazing like that, Craig?
You also state: "Do you have any kind of documentation that this is actually a scam?". My reply, do you have any kind of documentation that this is NOT a scam?
Instead of lashing out at me like a pre-schooler who wet his pants and is having a temper tantrum, by writing derogatory letters in a childish attempt to attack my character, self, and mental stability, why don't you do something constructive and rectify the problem, and then start working on the other problems on your sites. You didn't play well with others, when you were a child, did you?

CL User says:

Sarah,
You can feel free to contact me in the thread I created on CL or through my email and I will be happy to continue this discussion with you in a civilized manner in an appropriate location.
and as far as who I am, I am a Craigslist User for the past 8 years who has witnessed massive changes and evolution in the site over this time period, both good and bad. I can personally tell you that the flagging system, emails to abuse, and the forums on CL all work very well and take care of probably 95% of all the problems out there on the site.
You are held to the same standards as theperson posting the ads, just because you "state" that it is a scam or illegal, doesn't mean it is.
Please stop posting here in the comments and contact me directly if you want to continue this discussion, otherwise feel free to continue portraying the image of being a crazy lady ranting about things in an irrational manner.

Sarah says:

CL. First of all, I went to the link you provided. I have no idea what transpired there, but this was posted.: "This discussion needs to end. 11/07 09:45:07
If everyone involved in this convo could kindly take their SHIT out of our forum, I think that would be for the best. I suggest you try forumID=9400.
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/forums/?ID=107154361
d there:". It sounds to me as though you are trying to challenge Delia and Me, to follow you into the alley, but when we get there, you are not.
Second of all, get a life and mind your own business. Is craigslist.org your whole life, at least for the past 8 years? Who invited you to inject yourself into this? Are you hearing voices?
As for what you say you have witnessed on the site over the past 8 years, well you just seem to be regurgitating that which is listed on the site.
You seem to be the one who gives the appearance of being a crazy person "ranting about things in an irrational matter", about that which is none of your concern in the first place. Check with your doctor, who may be able to offer treatment for your verbal diarrhea and "buttinski-itis".
Don't waste my time. Get your own forum for your verbal tirades.

CL User says:

*sigh*
Sarah, it is obvious from your post that you don't appear to understand how Craigslist's Forums work. I posted the first post in that thread and someone else posted the response to it, feel free to reply to my original post, not the person who replied to me.
I just posted a new reply with a green handle for you to see, respond to that please.
and also, one can easily say the same things to you about "Getting a life and minding your own business" and getting a forum for verbal tirades, since nothing you have posted can be classified as anything other than a tirade.
This is just as much my concern as it is your concern over this other person's postings on the site.

Delia says:

sorry about the delay… (was away for the day)
CLuser: sorry but I do not wish to follow you anywhere or anything of the kind (I've already said everything I had to say to you)
Sarah: I think you've done pretty much everything you could have done under the circumstances (and definitely a lot more that craigslist could have reasonably expected you to do)
If you really want to do more about this, I would contact legal institutions. If you have trouble with the local ones and believe they are corrupt or non-responsive for some reason, I'd go up the ladder.
Richard Blumenthal, although not the attorney general for your particular state is very familiar with craigslist issues so he would make a prime candidate if there is a way to just drop him a line somewhere (I'd keep it short and to the point, with hyperlinks to what you see as evidence and with a short story of what you've done so far including your contacting craigslist).
Delia
P.S. OK… I'm entirely done with this topic (didn't realize it was going to get this involved). D.
Take care everyone!
Delia

johanseb says:

UPDATE: Johan, we've already addressed this, recently, please check blog.craigslist.org
Unfortunately (and I'm not sure what Craig's original intentions were), the Erotic Services section of CL has become a huge enabler (if not expander) of prostitution.
True, most major daily newspapers (not to mention weekly and alternatives) also accept prostitution ads, but craigslist's past practice of free ads removed virtually all barriers to entering the business. Prostitution grew by leaps and bounds as a result of the 1-2-punch combination of high traffic that came with the other free ads.
Really, I wish that craigslist would choose to exercise its "right" to not publish this category, as it simply enables things such as abuse, addiction and a host of other societal problems. Why further the problem? Who might suffer? A few dominatrix types? Big deal.

johan says:

Craig, you did deal with it. It's actually a pretty interesting concept, and I'm curious to see if you can fight this sickness with economics alone. But then I wonder why you don't take the step of just choosing not to HAVE such a category.
What I fear is that you will create a new market for throwaway cell phones and Visa gift cards, which can both be acquired with cash (hey, don't their clients pay cash anyway?).
My point was that there really is not much within the "Erotic Services" category that (at the end of the day) is not prostitution. Wink wink. we all know this. Let's get real.
As far as flagging to eliminate inappropriate ads, the majority of flagging is done by hookers and pimps who are attacking their competition.
Why invest money and create a system to CONTINUE this category? Every dollar you raise to be donated to sex slavery outreach programs, etc, will be raised on the back of other women. Think about it.

CL User says:

Why do they invest money to continue this category?
That's an easy answer that goes back to the whole reason the category exists in the first place.
It keeps the majority of ads for pay services out of the personals section.
Same reason there is a Casual Encounters section to keep the people looking for sex out of the ads for people looking for a real relationship.
Sometimes you need to pander to a necessary evil in order to make other good and positive sections viable and usable.

Delia says:

re: "My point was that there really is not much within the "Erotic Services" category that (at the end of the day) is not prostitution. Wink wink. we all know this. Let's get real."
Hi, Johan! unless you believe Craig's "update response" *does* in fact address the very good issues you raised (I don't see how it could possibly do that), you may consider bringing this things up in other places where people may indeed care… Take care! D.

johan says:

"Sometimes you need to pander to a necessary evil in order to make other good and positive sections viable and usable."
Except that the working girls are well known to troll the personals and casual encounters category.