No First Amendment for Craigslist

"Prior to the complete removal of their Adult Services section in the United States on September 3, Craigslist had temporarily covered the ad with a black bar containing the word "censored." While the company has yet to release a statement on their word choice, and has since removed the "censored" bars, their message was very clear. Craigslist believed they have been persecuted for their Adult Services forum.

"It is undeniable that Craigslist does have the Constitutional right to provide adult services in a theoretically legal context, but it is equally undeniable that this section of the website had become host to a vast network of human trafficking, a crime that itself censors and strips the human rights of others. Because of the nature of the industry, it is difficult to find an exact statistic on the rate of human trafficking. But the accounts told by the women and children victimized by this industry disturb in the deepest sense imaginable.

"Craigslist, who have been completely aware of these accounts, has for years done nothing extraordinary to stop the trafficking. In fact, as reported by CNN, two victims recently wrote to the CEO’s of Craigslist, Jim Buckmaster and Craig Newmark, relaying their horrific experiences of being sold through Craigslist ads. One woman, known as "M.C," had been forced into the sex trade at the age of 11.

"The other woman, known as "AK," described her experience while being trafficked through Craigslist in an open letter to The Washington Post: "He put my picture on Craigslist, and I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night. This became my life. Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me. The $30,000 he pocketed each month was facilitated by Craigslist 300 times."

"The company shares a heinous responsibility for the trafficking by allowing these ads, and their response has been simply inadequate. Sex is not a service to be bought and sold, and to view it, and capitalize upon it, in this manner can create an unethical society of indulgence and gross lust. Prostitution is a completely dehumanizing service, and forced prostitution, no matter what the cause, is even worse. Women and children are not things to be sold, they are human beings with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"According to The New York Times, Craigslist is expected to profit $36 million from the ads on the website, many of which "blatantly advertise prostitution." Craigslist should not be allowed to use the loaded term "censored," and, thus, portray themselves as suddenly a new champion promoting freedom of speech and human rights. This is almost a laughable idea, and it clearly shows not only their spite but also the lengths to which they will go to protect their profits.

"Craigslist’s policies in the U.S. prior to the complete removal of the ad section, were that one would pay for and post an ad, which was then screened afterward along with millions of other adult service ads. This policy was clearly ineffective; while the company immediately received money for the ads, they would only investigate and act on ads concerning instances of trafficking and prostitution much later

"Craigslist is believed to have only shut down the ads after a large wave of pressure from 17 U.S. attorneys general from: Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. In a joint letter, they stated that, "No amount of money … can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution and the suffering of the women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by Craigslist." One has to question why they waited so long.