Craiglist, a network of online communities that feature free classified advertisements and discussion forums, has finally decided to close its controversial “adult services” listing in the United States. The section where has now been replaced by a black bar with the word “censored” written on it (see image below). However, an ‘erotic’ service is still active outside the US.
Although a reason was not given for the decision, there has been wide range criticisms from activists and attorneys general that the listings created an avenue for pimps, human traffickers and prostitutes to ply their trade on the Internet. Last year, the Craiglist Website replaced its “erotic services” section with a fee-based adult category and adopted an ad-screening policy following pressure from about 40 US state attorneys general. This time around, the organisation has yet to release any public statements explaining why it decided to drop the “Adult Services” section from its site.
In spite of the many reasons given recently by 17 US state attorneys general, in late August, on why Craiglist should shut down its Adult Services (such as, to “end the misery for the women and children who may be exploited and victimized by these ads”), some supporters of the organisation are of the opinion that the Craiglist is just an easy target as there are likely to be other (low-profile) Websites and online forums that advertise prostitution. Furthermore, others maintain that the latest pressure from state attorneys general is a blow to freedom of speech and unlikely to stop illegal activity on Craiglist or indeed anywhere else online.