I know plenty of decent people who use Craigslist, innocently looking for a job, or to sell a car, or for a good deal on used books, furniture, and the like. There are some great buys available there, from what they tell me. But there is also a dark underworld to Craigslist, seething beneath the bland surface of ads for housing, stuff for sale, jobs, and services. Beneath that mundane patina lies the dank and dangerous basement of sex for sale.
“Biggest online hub for selling women against their will”San Francisco-based Craigslist, the international online classified advertising network, earned millions last year from selling “adult advertising,” ads that have prompted law-enforcement probes in at least 40 states.“The ads, many of which blatantly advertise prostitution, are expected to bring $36 million this year, according to a new projection of Craigslist’s income,” the New York Times reported April 25. “That is three times the revenue in last year’s projection.”“Law-enforcement officials have been fighting a mostly losing battle to get Craigslist to rein in the sex ads,” said the Times. “At the same time, officials of organizations that oppose human trafficking say the site remains the biggest online hub for selling women against their will.”“Last week, in the latest example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 14 members of the Gambino crime family on charges of, among other things, selling the sexual services of girls ages 15 to 19 on Craigslist,” the Times reported.“Sex Trade Big Business for Craig,” reported KNBC-TV, Channel 11 in the Bay Area, referring to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. The television station said in a headline on its website, “Money charged for formerly free ads estimated to bring in $36 million.”“Craigslist revenue grew 22 percent last year, to $122 million, largely on the strength of increasing fees for ‘adult’ advertising and no longer sending that money to charity,” said NBC Bay Area.The revenue estimates for Craigslist come from the Advanced Interactive Media Group, which, said NBC Bay Area, “regularly calculates revenue estimates for the private company by tracking the number and nature of ads posted to the site.”Craigslist originally promised to donate revenues from ‘adult’ ads to charity, but “announced that it would no longer disclose its plans with that money last year, suggesting it’s now going to the bottom line,” said the NBC Bay Area report.According to the Times, Craigslist “had seemed to put the conflict over its sex ads to rest” last May when it agreed to monitor ‘adult’ postings for illegal activity. “Attorneys general in 40 states, including New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut, investigated the company for facilitating criminal activity, after a wave of publicity about prostitution and violent crimes linked to the site,” the Times reported. . . . (Continue reading)