Press Release from the Office of Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Aug. 24, 2010:
Tennessee Attorney General Joins in Call on Cragslist to Eliminate Adult Services Section
Attorney General Bob Cooper today joined 16 other state attorneys general asking craigslist to immediately take down the Adult Services portion of the site due to continued allegations of rampant prostitution advertisements and growing public frustration.
The multi-state letter, to craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster and founder Craig Newmark, contends that if craigslist does not adequately screen these ads it must stop accepting them altogether and shut down the Adult Services section.
“The increasingly sharp public criticism of craigslist’s Adult Services section reflects growing allegations that ads for prostitution—including ads trafficking children—are rampant on it,” Attorney General Cooper said. “The company should take immediate action to help end exploitation of the women and children victimized as a result of these ads.”
“Your much-touted ‘manual review’ of Adult Services ads has failed to yield any discernable reduction in obvious solicitations,” the letter says.
“We recognize that craigslist may lose considerable revenue generated by the Adult Services ads,” the attorneys general said. “No amount of money can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution, and the suffering of the woman and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by craigslist.”
Even following its 2008 public pledge that it would better police its own site, the attorneys general allege that craigslist remains a hot spot for blatant prostitution ads.
In July 2010, two girls who said that they were trafficked for sex through craigslist wrote an “open letter” to craigslist officials, pleading for the elimination of the Adult Services section. The girls’ poignant account told a horrific story of brutalization and assault suffered not just by them, but also by untold numbers of other children, the attorneys general said.
The attorneys general termed recent blog posts and public statements from Buckmaster and Newmark, including a CNN interview, “deeply troubling” because they seem to imply that victims, law enforcement officials and children’s advocates are at least partially to blame for these incidents due to their failure to provide craigslist with police reports, ad copy or links documenting these heinous crimes.
The attorneys general said this position fails to acknowledge that craigslist is the only party positioned to stop these ads before they are published. While the perpetrators may eventually be apprehended and brought to justice, the victims — assuming they survive — could carry the scars for life, the attorneys general said.
Anyone who has information regarding possible illegal abuses of the website should contact local law enforcement.
Anyone who has complaints with any business regarding unfair or deceptive conduct may contact the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-342-8385 or online at www.tn.gov/consumer/.