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Craigslist founder: No plans to shut down Erotic Services

In an interview with ABC's Nightline, Craig Newmark declares he is guided solely by feedback he receives from the entirety of the community.

In the wake of the murder of Craigslist-advertising masseuse Julissa Brisman, and the arrest of Philip Markoff, Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster of Craigslist gave interviews Friday to Martin Bashir of ABC's Nightline.

Their attitude was both defiant and a little uncomfortable.

Bashir asked Newmark whether he was a law-abiding citizen of America, to which the Craigslist founder said he was "very consistent" about that.

As the interviewer read out a few Craigslist ads and asked him if he thought they were ads for prostitution, Newmark replied: "Probably." He said that if there are ads of a criminal nature on the site, he wants help to get rid of them immediately.

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark CC Top Rank Online Marketing/Flickr

Asked if Craigslist facilitates prostitution, Newmark said: "I wouldn't put it that way, no." Which did seem a little like the answer of a politician.

But when asked about whether, in the light of crime associated with Craigslist, he intended to make any changes to the site, perhaps closing down the Erotic Services section, Newmark leaned heavily on Craigslist's roots.

"The decisions we make on our site are consistently based on feedback from the entirety of the community," he said.

However, he did seem to leave the smallest of crack open for a change of heart: "That feedback changes over time."

Bashir then wondered whether the idea of donating proceeds from the Erotic Services section to charity might seem a little strange.

"Do you think," he asked Buckmaster, "that charities will welcome donations from adverts where people promise to beat each others' backsides till they bleed?"

Buckmaster replied, somewhat nervously: "We'll be making public the donations that are available to charities and they can contact us if they want to take advantage of that."

In this fascinating interview sequence, one could easily conclude that Craigslist wishes that the few in society would just stop behaving in a way that can affect so many so that Craiglist can just carry on with its business.

Unfortunately, the few in society aren't so easily persuaded.