Conn. AG Wants Craigslist To Clean Up SiteWBZ

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Craigslist on Wednesday asking that the site stop advertising for erotic services.

“Craigslist has the means and moral obligation to stop prostitution and pimping in plain site… These ads on Craigslist are not harmless. They are part of an ongoing web of criminal activity and plainly has victims that we have seen both horrifically and graphically over the last week.”

Blumenthal is suggesting the online community bulletin board hire staff to screen for erotic ads and services posted on the site.

He also wants to give financial rewards for people who flag and report prostitution ads and impose penalties for those who violate the terms of use put out by Craigslist. “These postings have real life costs in human injury and even death and stronger efforts have to be taken to stop them.”

Blumenthal said the Craigslist has been cooperative, and over the past few days has provided key information that was instrumental in apprehending Philip Markoff, who has been charged with murdering Julissa Brisman at the Marriott Copley in Boston and assaulting another woman four days earlier at the nearby Westin.

Blumenthal isn’t alone in thinking Craigslist should get rid of the erotic section. Charlie wrote into WBZ’s Curious Web site, saying, “I don’t understand what positive social purpose an “erotic” section on Craigslist serves. I further don’t understand why lawmakers can’t shut it down.”

In an interview with WBZ, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said the site won’t pull its erotic ad section.

“With a tragedy like this, which we were terribly saddened by, there can an outcry to shut down the Internet service that it happened on,” Buckmaster said. “But if you use the analogy of our roadways where 40,000 people are killed each year, the focus should be on improving the safety of the service. That’s what we’re focusing on rather than shutting down the service. Just as you would try to make the highways safer because there was a fatality.”

Moving forward, Buckmaster said Craigslist is looking at more technologies that can filter images in the erotic filter and to raise accountability when posting ads in that category so people know it’s “an unwise venue to try to conduct illegal activity on…But that does not always dawn on people who are contemplating criminal activity, and we want it to be even more abundantly clear.

There is currently a fee to post an ad on the Erotic section of the site. Buckmaster said they require advertisers to verify their phone number.

The section also has a warning to users that they are entering the erotic section of the site.

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