Craigslist to remove 'erotic services' section

Ads in the notorious section of the classifieds site are set to expire within seven days, the company announces.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
3 min read
Craigslist's San Francisco headquarters. The company agrees to remove ads from its erotic-services section. Greg Sandoval/CNET

Updated at 9:33 a.m. PT to include a statement from Craigslist and correct an error. See details below.

Craigslist has yielded to law enforcement officials from all over the country, deciding to dismantle its "erotic services" ads.

"As of (Wednesday), for all U.S. Craigslist sites, postings to the erotic-services category will no longer be accepted," the publication said in a statement. "In seven days, the category will be removed. Also effective today for all U.S. sites, a new category entitled 'adult services' will be opened for postings by legal adult service providers.

"Each posting to this new category will be manually reviewed before appearing on the site to ensure compliance with Craigslist posting guidelines and terms of use. New postings will cost $10, but once approved, will be eligible for reposting at $5." (To read Craigslist's full statement go here)

For the past several months, authorities have claimed that Craigslist has become a seedy digital street corner where prostitution is rampant.

ABCNews.com is reporting that Craigslist's decision comes after the company's attorneys met with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, as well as with the attorneys general of Connecticut and Missouri. According to an Associated Press report, the states' officials demanded that the site pull ads that they contend are advertisements for illegal sexual activities.

Lawmakers from a number of states have claimed that Craigslist's erotic-services section is a huge Internet bordello, where thousands of people solicit for sex. Law enforcement officials have complained for years that prostitutes are more difficult to apprehend on Craigslist because they are cloaked in the anonymity that that service offers those who post ads.

CNET News Poll

Behind closed doors
Did Craigslist cave too quickly on its erotic ads?

Not fast enough. Those ads should never have been on the site.
Yes. The service was being targeted by grandstanding politicians.
Who cares? The ads will just move back to alternative weeklies.
It's window dressing. They're opening a new "adult services" section.

View results

Craigslist's managers responded to the complaints by trying to create deterrents, such as requiring anyone posting an ad in the erotic-services section to provide a credit card number. They have pointed out in the past that prostitutes don't need the Web publication or its erotic-services section to do business, and they have predicted that doing away with the section will only push people to solicit similarly in the site's other areas.

But Craigslist received some bad press after a woman was murdered and two others were robbed in the Boston area. The alleged killer reportedly found his victims via Craigslist ads, and media outlets began calling him the "Craigslist killer." Police have arrested a suspect in that case.

"Completely contrary to some of the sensationalistic journalism we've seen these past few weeks," Craigslist said in the statement, "the record is clear that use of Craigslist classifieds is associated with far lower rates of violent crime than print classifieds, let alone rates of violent crime pertaining to American society as a whole."

Correction: This report misstated the number of recent murder victims in connection with the alleged Boston-area "Craigslist killer." There is reportedly one.