“Reformed” Craigslist Still Posts 3.5 Million Adult Services Ads Per Year

In the Spring of 2009, Craigslist announced that they would be removing their “Erotic Services” section and replacing it with an “Adult Services” section. This change came after a lawsuit from an Illinois sheriff, heavy pressure from the anti-trafficking community, and at least 1000 letters from Change.org members, all of whom wanted Craigslist to address the fact that their website had become a primary means for traffickers to advertise their products: women and children.

But as Brad Myles from Polaris Project points out this week, the name changed, but everything else about Craigslist remained the same. They still publish over 3.5 million “adult services” ads per year, with no transparent or visible screening for forced or child prostitution.

The “adult services” section of Craigslist is more thorough in screening for trafficking victims than the “erotic services” section was in the same way torn jeans are more appropriate attire for a board meeting than assless chaps. While the company has not released any details regarding how they screen ads or what sort of training those employees screening ads receive, the sheer volume of ads that are published makes screening them a daunting task.

Even if Craigslist had 100 employees dedicated to screening “adult services” ads, each of them would have to screen about 1000 ads a day to keep up (and that’s with no vacations!). I don’t know how many full-time staff Craigslist has devoted to screening these ads, but I’m sure it’s not 100. And until I Craigslist shares their training and screening process, I’m willing to suspect its holes are as large as the aforementioned chaps’.

Are every one of those 3.5 million ads for human trafficking victims? No. But even if only one half of one percent turned out to be for trafficked persons (an estimate more conservative than Glenn Beck and Anne Coulter’s love child), that’s 175,000 ads for women and children who are being forced into prostitution against their will. And this is a supposed improvement over what Craigslist was a year ago.

Law enforcement agencies around the country have all identified Craigslist and the many similar sites like Eros and Backpage as being primary sources of advertising of trafficked and exploited women and children. And Craigslist changing the name of the section where they are pimped out hasn’t changed that.

Take a few minutes and ask Craigslist to make real and meaningful change in their new “adult services” section.

source: http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/reformed_craigslist_still_posts_35_million_adult_services_ads_per_year

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