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craigslist needs help getting evidence re human trafficking

I agree with all who say that human trafficking is a horrible crime.

That's why Jim Buckmaster released this open letter today.

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

Don't be one of those who makes allegations without backing them up with substance — be a part of the solution.

Send whatever you have to legal@craigslist.org, now!

Tags: | 43 Responses »

43 Responses to craigslist needs help getting evidence re human trafficking

Jordantowers1 says:

I am glad Craigslist is doing all it can to prevent human trafficking. I was wondering if Craigslist has a "crime devision?" I know its impossible to police the entire web but at least it establishes a presence.

really? says:

Craig, it sounds like you would like us to help out by going into the adult section and reading everyone's posts to find illegal activity. Do you think human traffickers will willingly post a heading such as "illegal trafficking" or "human trafficking here." My thought is that they might disguise it you know? So I can see how great it would be to give your craigs list users the responsibility to find the illegal activity, but do you think that will work? What are you as the owner currently doing to ensure human trafficking is not happening on your site? It would take a lot to comb the adult section in each city to find even the most under-the-radar human trafficking acts. If illegal human trafficking goes unnoticed on your site is that fine with you? I am just curious as to how you see this issue as the owner.

Craig Newmark says:

thanks! and I appreciate your thinking here.
Please help everyone out here, though… would it be wise to disclose the very extensive screening procedures we have, in a public place like this?
thanks!
Craig

noah says:

To "really?" — I may be naive in my interpretation of a post's copy, but at a certain point if I can't tell that a post is promoting human trafficking then neither can the intended audience and so the post is useless, right? So I would assume that enough people checking out enough posts would make a dent in this issue (which until now I was completely unaware of!)
Maybe this is problem for Mechanical Turk?
The one problem I see with Jim's letter is that it seems almost all the preventive measures are to be found in the Adult section of the site. I hope you have practices in place to prevent use of other sections too! (hopefully this is part of your "very extensive screening procedures")

We can't spot the victims... says:

Re: Really?
Check out this video by The Killers done for the MTV EXIT campaign against sexual exploitation.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoTBclI22Dk
You are correct in your assumption. We can't see it…that's the problem. We need to work with the victims to find the traffickers.

Ashley says:

Craig, thank you for doing all you can to prevent human Trafficking. I feel bad that people are blaming you for these horrible things. You don't deserve to be blamed for it. I wish I could help! I am very passionate about stopping this horrible crime.

Lauren Taylor says:

Craig, I posted a comment in response to your post above, and to Jim Buckmaster's open letter, including links to your site. It was shortly thereafter removed. I reposted the comment. It was again removed.
I've sent the same information to your legal department, as suggested in Jim's letter. But your actions leave me suspect, Craig, as to how serious you are about asking for help.
Lauren Taylor
Founder & President
End Slavery Now
http://www.endslaverynow.com

comeon says:

P Dave, seriously? Some grand juror leaks info on Craiglist and Craig is personally responsible for this how? This couldn't have been leaked on any of the other hundreds of thousands of messageboards on the internet, or ANY OTHER VENUE FOR ANONYMOUS SPEECH IN THE WORLD?
Seriously, this craigslist baiting is getting old, as is the CNN hatchetjob. I seriously think the media is just pissed off that Craig is giving away ads for free and their own business model is dying. Craigslist is as benign a business as any on the web.

Onno says:

So I think Craigslist has a communication problem: it doesn't seem a top priority to address these issues.
In response to an earlier comment you say to email you but to understand you're swamped. I trust you're busy but that says to the recipient "it goes to the bottom of the pile and I'll get to it when I get to it".
Buckmaster's open letter asks the audience to contact faceless email addresses (legal@ and press@). He should have said: call me, email me. And the open letter should also be prominently on craigslist.org.
In the awkward spontaneous CNN interview this weekend you should have received the interviewer's printed ad and said "thank you so much bringing this to me, I will get to the bottom of this" and then of course do that.
Instead the impression is created, which I'm sure is wrong, that these are tiresome distractions.

Lauren Taylor says:

Craig, I'd be happy to email you the information you removed. To what address would you like me to send it?
Lauren
Oh, and fortunately I saved screen shots. Nice try, though.

jb says:

Great move. If the bad guys didn't use Craigslist, they'd find another path so better for the site to help squash them here.

Lauren Taylor says:

Craig, I see that you are again deleting my responses to you here, yet I am trying to post the very links you claim to be asking for. Twice in the last 5 minutes.
I get a message that my comment has successfully posted and I can see it on screen. Then it disappears.
What's the deal?
Lauren Taylor
Founder & President
End Slavery Now
http://www.endslaverynow.com

dash says:

I am not sure I understand how Craigslist is drawing the ire here.
There are tons of avenues for traffickers to find their market.
Why dont we do this:
1. Craigslist continues to monitor the ads, and alerts law enforcement when someone stupid enough, submits an ad for a minor.
2. Law enforcement monitors the ads to find traffickers.. the traffickers are advertising their presence, and are asking for the trouble! And what better opportunity to find the perpetrators and the victims?? Craigslist would in essence be playing the role of informers.
What am I missing?

We can't spot the victims... says:

re: Dash
"1. Craigslist continues to monitor the ads, and alerts law enforcement when someone stupid enough, submits an ad for a minor."
Please read the previous posts. There are no ads that read Underaged Girl. $50 obo

Susan Smith says:

Can you explain why I can flag an appliance listing as prohibited but not an adult services ad? It seems you are not anxious about receiving the reports of problem ads since you do not seem to encourage it. Do you (Craig and craigslist.org) have a department that handles/reviews advertising on a regular basis? I understand that you disclaim any liability for the ads and products, but it could be argued that your site is facilitating illegal activities. Just a little food for thought.

Joe in San Diego says:

Contrary to what some people have been posting on this blog, I think that Craig’s List can actually help clean up human trafficking, if it hasn’t already. (I wouldn’t expect anyone at Craig’s List to divulge this information if it has actually occurred since it would probably thwart futures successes in this area if human traffickers caught wind.) First of all, human trafficking has existed long before Craig’s List or the Internet. The thing that Craig’s List/the Internet can do is create an information trail that would be useful in constructing a criminal case against the people involved.
While I don’t know what it is like to answer an “Adult” ad, I have bought and sold many things on Craig’s List. Usually the process starts when someone replies to an ad on Craig’s List by clicking on the hyperlink or copying and pasting that link into an e-mail reader. This generates an e-mail, which starts the information trail. This information can probably be combined with cell phone/GPS records, which could help construct a case that could lock up human traffickers. (Actually the GPS/cell phone records are probably all that is needed.)
Without Craig’s List/the Internet/GPS cell phones there would be no information trail to link the involved parties, but people would still be trafficked! One thing Craig’s List CAN’T do is prevent a crime BEFORE it has taken place, but really none of us can do that unless we turn this country into a police state. To me the really scary part is that the infrastructure for Orwell's 1984 has been provided to the government at no cost by the private sector.

Anonymous says:

So if they are policing their own ads, they are not doing a very good job of it. And as far as preventing a crime before it happens, yes, you can in fact prevent it or at the very least make an effort to remove the ad facilitating it.
Look at the following ad as an example. Clearly states a rate in the title.
http://denver.craigslist.org/ads/1891185218.html

Craig Newmark says:

Thanks, very appreciated!
Ill ask staff to reconsider this one specifically.
In general… Ive forwarded your comments to our team for their review as well.  I cannot discuss specific screening criteria without helping the bad guys get around our protective measures, but I can say that in order to post, each user must confirm that she or he is advertising only legal services, and our screeners look for anything that may be inconsistent with that representation.  And of course, each user provides us with credit card information and a telephone number that can be tracked back to them in the event of unlawful behavior.  Each adult service ad is reviewed by a trained human before it can be posted, and since craigslist implemented manual screening for adult services ads, we have rejected or removed more than 725,000 ads because they did not comply with our guidelines.
Whenever we identify any ad that we think may involve the trafficking of a minor, we report that directly to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through their tipline, and NCMEC then passes the tips on to appropriate law enforcement agencies.  craigslist has had thousands of communications with our partners in law enforcement at the federal, state and local level to assist them in investigating any potentially illegal use of our site.  We continue to work with the cops quickly, tirelessly, and–at the request of law enforcement at all levels–quietly, in identifying and locking up anyone engaged in human trafficking.
Craig

Craig Newmark says:

Lauren, Ive lost track of what Ive sent you; cant see any removed screens, but if you want, repost. However, make sure you post ads citing actual criminal behavior, otherwise, you might be making a false accusation, on the record.
Ive forwarded it to our team for their review as well.  I cannot discuss specific screening criteria without helping the bad guys get around our protective measures, but I can say that in order to post, each user must confirm that she or he is advertising only legal services, and our screeners look for anything that may be inconsistent with that representation.  And of course, each user provides us with credit card information and a telephone number that can be tracked back to them in the event of unlawful behavior.  Each adult service ad is reviewed by a trained human before it can be posted, and since craigslist implemented manual screening for adult services ads, we have rejected or removed more than 725,000 ads because they did not comply with our guidelines.
Whenever we identify any ad that we think may involve the trafficking of a minor, we report that directly to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through their tipline, and NCMEC then passes the tips on to appropriate law enforcement agencies.  craigslist has had thousands of communications with our partners in law enforcement at the federal, state and local level to assist them in investigating any potentially illegal use of our site.  We continue to work with the cops quickly, tirelessly, and–at the request of law enforcement at all levels–quietly, in identifying and locking up anyone engaged in human trafficking.
Craig

Craig Newmark says:

Ashley, Im a little confused, but what you seem to be doing here is posting ads for illegal activities, which were required to remove.
Ive forwarded your information to our team for their review as well.  I cannot discuss specific screening criteria without helping the bad guys get around our protective measures, but I can say that in order to post, each user must confirm that she or he is advertising only legal services, and our screeners look for anything that may be inconsistent with that representation.  And of course, each user provides us with credit card information and a telephone number that can be tracked back to them in the event of unlawful behavior.  Each adult service ad is reviewed by a trained human before it can be posted, and since craigslist implemented manual screening for adult services ads, we have rejected or removed more than 725,000 ads because they did not comply with our guidelines.
Whenever we identify any ad that we think may involve the trafficking of a minor, we report that directly to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through their tipline, and NCMEC then passes the tips on to appropriate law enforcement agencies.  craigslist has had thousands of communications with our partners in law enforcement at the federal, state and local level to assist them in investigating any potentially illegal use of our site.  We continue to work with the cops quickly, tirelessly, and–at the request of law enforcement at all levels–quietly, in identifying and locking up anyone engaged in human trafficking.
Craig

Lauren Taylor says:

Craig, I'm confused. In your plea for help above, you ask readers to do the following:
"If you know OR SUSPECT [emphasis mine] 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!"
And, from the disclaimer page on your own website http://dallas.craigslist.org/cgi-bin/services.cgi?category=ads, #4 states: "I agree to report SUSPECTED [emphasis mine] exploitation of minors and/or human trafficking to the appropriate authorities."
But now, in your response to me both here and on your facebook page http://www.facebook.com/craignewmark#!/craignewmark?ref=nf, you are making threatening remarks regarding legal ramifications of reporting suspected exploitation, and instead requiring that I only report "ads citing actual criminal activities." (As if the people posting the ads would be so straightforward.)
Which is it? Do you really want help, Craig, identifying potential cases of human trafficking on Craigslist, or not?
Lauren Taylor
Founder & President
End Slavery Now
http://www.endslaverynow.com