Tuesday, September 14, 2010

craigslist current issues

I'm just going to address some issue that I see relevant at the moment, in no particular order (things I've recently seen people argue incorrectly)

1) craigslist (and similar companies) is like the phone company <--> the internet provider craigslist uses is like the phone company, but craigslist itself is like a company that would solicit ads to be recorded through the phone and then allow the public to call in and access those ads; as far as I understand it, such a company would be legally liable if it promoted crime

2).ads are moving to other sites so we are no better off by shutting down craigslist erotic/adult section <--> what made craigslist such a big problem in the US (and still does internationally) was its efficiency, moving those ads to less efficient places would normally result in less harm; however, if ONE company would manage to recapture virtually all the "formally-craigslist erotic/adult ads", that would be a real concern and should be shut down ASAP

3). child trafficking is just moving from the streets to the internet <--> I really don't think that's the ONLY thing that's going on here, I believe it is to be expected that MORE (perhaps MUCH more) child trafficking actually results when such an efficient market as craigslist exists; I
would also expect copycat child trafficking to result when potential criminals realize that although a small percentage of traffickers are apprehended, the vast majority of them are NOT!

4). we are better off having them post on the web so that the police can just check the ads and find the criminals <--> given the very limited police resources available and the fact that it is considerably MORE expensive --time-wise and resource-wise-- to bring criminals to justice this way (see explanation in policeman's lawsuit against craigslist) this would only make sense if local police would be allowed to set the number of ads that appear on the site to a number they can manage; opening up the floodgates and expecting the police to do anything beyond catch a few cases
is well-meaning but ignorant at best...

5). it is a free speech issue<--> *forum* posts are a free speech issue, NOT ad posts (the function of an ad -- ANY ad -- is commerce, the function of a forum post is speech; an ad posted in the forums would, of course, still be an ad and should abide by legal regulation of ads

alright, now about the INTERNATIONAL issue: as far as I can see, there is no reason to conclude the moral issue is different for erotic sections provided for countries other than the U.S.; the legal issues are bound to differ but hopefully craigslist will take the moral high ground and not even bother with that

the main problem I see is that craigslist might believe -- rightly or wrongly -- (there has been some evidence to support this) that it was the allowing (or actually cultivating?) of the "sex sections" of craigslist that grew the site beyond anybody's expectation in the U.S.

and it will do the same abroad, given time...

so from a strictly "business" POV it might appear that pulling "the sex sections" at this point would prevent the international craigslist site to reach its potential in term of overall ads, hits and eventually profit

so the challenge is to convince craigslist that it should put moral consideration before financial ones, that it shouldn't WANT success abroad if it would take "helping out" child traffickers...


P.S. I would certainly like to believe that, in spite of Stephen's evidence, craigslist grew as a result of building a useful community and NOT as a result of all that smut.. and that if that's what it took to grow the site abroad, Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster would pass... D.

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