Craigslist | Legal questions about sex ads, kids and crime

Monday, April 26th, 2010 By

Cragislist corporate offices

Craigslist is run as a bare-bones operation, though sex ad fees bring in millions of dollars. Image from Flickr.

Craigslist — the central hub for free online classified advertisements, auto financing and personals ads — is once again finding itself at the center of multiple Craig’s List controversies. Connecticut’s attorney general has lambasted Craigslist for allowing sexually explicit advertising on the website and keeping the profits from that advertising. At the same time, a father in New York State has been arrested for posting his children for sale on Craig’s List. In Oakland, police are warning residents to be wary of Craigslist – a rash of violent robberies have started with Craig’s List postings.

Craigslist sex ads

This morning, Advanced Interactive Media Group, a company that specializes in estimating finances of privately held companies, announced that Craigslist sex ads will bring in a projected $36 million. This is a 22 percent increase from Craig’s List estimated earnings last year. These Craigslist sex ads have encountered numerous legal challenges in 40 states, with law enforcement saying Craig’s List is responsible for removing ads “used for illegal ends.”

Craigslist ‘joke’ gets dad arrested

At the same time the Connecticut attorney general was raising arguments with his letter to Craigslist, a New York dad is wishing he had not posted his ad. Joshua Stagnitto was arrested for “falsely reporting an incident” – after Child Protective Services was called. Stagnetto posted an ad on Craig’s List offering his children for sale, which prompted calls to CPS and led to his arrest. Perhaps he should have just gotten online payday loans instant approval. Joshua Stagnitto claims the post was “just a joke.”

Craigslist does not claim responsibility

Craigslist maintains that it is protected by the Communications Decency Act – as a service provider, it is not responsible for what users post. The CEO of Craigslist, James Bruckmaster, has also stated that “Misuse of Craigslist for criminal purposes is utterly unacceptable.” Many of the sex ads on Craigslist come close to the line – some blatantly offer prostitution, while others are more subtle. Craigslist terms of service specifically disallow illegal or pornographic posts. Either way, the $5 to $10 fees per ad bring in a majority of Craigslist’s income. The company is privately held and is currently embroiled in legal disagreements with minority owner eBay.


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