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Craigslist touts 'spectacular' reduction in erotic ads

Web classified site releases numbers that show volume reductions in five major cities in an apparent response to a federal lawsuit against the site.

Craigslist released numbers Monday it touted as evidence of its success in reducing the volume of "erotic services" ads appearing on the Web classified site in an apparent response to a federal lawsuit that accuses the site of facilitating prostitution.

The number of ads for such services is down 90 percent to 95 percent during the past 12 months on Craigslist sites that serve five major U.S. cities, according to information posted on a company blog. The site credited the "spectacular" reduction on its joint effort with 40 attorneys general and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children it announced in November 2008, which included the introduction of new measures that require posters to the erotic section to furnish a working phone number and credit card:

Beyond the enormous reduction in ad volume, the ads that remain on the site are much improved in their compliance with our Terms of Use and local laws, in part due to screening measures developed in collaboration with the Attorneys General and law enforcement.

In this same timespan, craigslist staff have continued to work closely with law enforcement agencies across the country to vigorously pursue those engaged in the horrific crimes of human trafficking and exploitation of minors.

Finally, net revenue is accumulating from the fees now required of those posting under "erotic services," 100% of which is earmarked for donation to worthy charities, and we will soon be in position to begin distributing these funds.

The site also released the graph below to illustrate the reduction in erotic services ad volume during the past year for the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Seattle.


The blog posting is an apparent response to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday against Craigslist by the sheriff of Illinois' Cook County, alleging that the Web's largest classifieds publication is "facilitating prostitution." Sheriff Tom Dart asked the court to force Craigslist to remove the Web publication's erotic section and for $100,000 in compensation for the man-hours the county has had to pay police to investigate alleged criminal services being advertised on the site.

In a previous response to Dart's lawsuit, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster suggested that the suit was a waste of time.

"As our counsel explained to Sheriff Dart's Department in 2007," Buckmaster wrote, "Craigslist cannot be held liable, as a matter of clear federal law, for content submitted to the site by our users...Frankly, Sheriff Dart's actions mystify me."