In April, the classified advertising site Craigslist was thrust into the spotlight for its role in the case of accused murderer Phillip Markoff. Markoff, who has been dubbed the “Craigslist Killer” by the media, is currently being charged with killing a masseuse that he arranged to meet through a posting on the “erotic services” section of the site. Now, Craigslist is getting rid of “erotic services,” but this move probably won’t do much to change the sites status as an online red light district.
In a blog post sent to the Los Angeles Times, Craigslist announced that, as of today, the site will no longer be accepting new advertisements for “erotic services” and that the section will be eliminated completely in seven days. Craigslist is replacing “erotic services” with a new “adult services” section where employees will be monitoring submissions for sexual solicitations. Advertisers will be charged $10 for postings in “adult services,” which is twice as much as ads cost on the old “erotic services” boards. Interestingly, Craigslist had in the past agreed to donate their “erotic services” profits to charity to avoid claims of impropriety, but the LA Times says “that rule will not necessarily apply to the new ads.”
These changes at Craigslist will not affect the other sections of the site. Ads for prostitution regularly appear on other areas of Craigslist and getting rid of “erotic services” shouldn’t make much of a difference. Today, a quick scan through the first few ads in Craigslist’s “casual encounters” personals page for New York revealed multiple posts that were clearly advertising illicit services. In one of these posts, a woman calling herself “Lala” included a naked photo and her phone number along with an ad telling “GUYZ LOOKIN FOR A GOOD TIME? [sic]” that she “AIM[s] 2 PLZ” although “DONATIONS IS A MUST [sic].”
In another post, a woman who describes herself as a ski bunny (a popular Craigslist euphemism for people who enjoy cocaine) offers her companionship to “generous men” who are “able to supply favors” and “not affraid to spend a bit of $$$$ [sic].” Similar ads can easily be found throughout Craigslist’s personals and “therapeutic services” sections.
For now, it seems like Craigslist is making these changes to appease politicians and journalists who turned up the heat on the site in the wake of the Markoff case. If Craigslist is serious about cleaning up its act, it will need to start monitoring the entire site for illegal content.