Craigslist Pulls ‘Censored’ Bar From Adult Services Area

Sep 9, 2010 1:00 PM PST
SAN FRANCISCO — Craigslist has removed the censored bar it had placed over its adult services section after it shut down the section last weekend.

The site replaced the section with the black bar about a week after a group of state attorneys said there weren't enough protections against blocking potentially illegal ads promoting prostitution.

Craigslist spokesperson Susan MacTavish would not comment but told the New York Times that the ads are still blocked.

The Times report said that analysts speculate that Craigslist used the word “censored” to make a statement.

“Though Craigslist is not legally responsible for what people post on its site, state attorneys general and advocacy groups have been pressuring the company to shut down the adult services section. But analysts also said that the outpouring of attention that Craigslist’s sex ads have received in recent days would make it very difficult for the site to bring back the ads,” the report stated.

“I’m very convinced that this is permanent, even if it was not their intention to make it permanent,” said Peter M. Zollman, founding principal of the Advanced Interactive Media Group, a consulting firm that follows Craigslist closely.

“I think it will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to go back and reopen that section without really running into a buzzsaw of negative publicity and reaction.”

Strong opposition from four human rights groups demanded that the company also close the adult services section on all of its international sites.

But there has been some support to reopen the section.

Danah Boyd, a Microsoft senior researcher who said she was a victim of violence, wrote on Huffington Post that the section increases visibility for victims and helps law enforcement track criminals.

“If you want to end human trafficking, if you want to combat non-consensual prostitution, if you care about the victims of the sex-power industry, don’t cheer Craigslist’s censorship,” she wrote.

Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote that “supporters of the First Amendment should loudly voice their opposition to this type of misguided rhetoric from elected officials.”

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