Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster is demanding an apology from South Carolina attorney general Henry McMaster for continuing to threaten legal action against the classifieds website over prostitution listings.
Last week, Buckmaster bowed to demands from McMaster and several other US law officials to shutter Craigslist's controversial "erotic services" section in favor of an administrator-moderated "adult services" section.
McMaster was particularly vehement in the clamor, and on 5 May, he threatened a criminal investigation and possible charges if the erotic listings weren't removed within 10 days. Despite claiming that the attorney general's threats are baseless, the website shortly afterward announced its "erotic services" section would close.
This Saturday, however, McMaster announced on the state AG website that "as of 5:00 p.m. this afternoon, the craigslist South Carolina site continues to display advertisements for prostitution and graphic pornographic material. This content was not removed as we requested. We have no alternative but to move forward with criminal investigation and potential prosecution."
Buckmaster responded on the Craigslist blog saying, "Seriously? The craigslist adult services section for Greenville, SC has a total of 1 ad for the last 3 days, featuring a photograph of a fully clothed person. The 'erotic services' section for Greenville, which we recently closed, has 8 ads total which will expire in two days, and even for these ads the images and text are quite tame."
The website's chief then pointed to "adult entertainment" sections of other website classifieds servicing South Carolina, including Microsoft's live.com listings and AT&T's yellowpages.com with explicit escort ads.
[Buckmaster also links to some of the offending listings, which we'll leave to you to scout at your own NSFW peril].
"Of course, no one in mainstream legal circles thinks either company should be subject to civil suit, let alone a criminal investigation," Buckmaster wrote. "But if for whatever reason you were so motivated, would you target a venue with 9 PG-13 rated ads, or one with 250 XXX rated ones?"
After giving some time to stew on McMaster's threats over the weekend, Buckmaster today posted again demanding an apology.
"Mr. McMaster, I strongly recommend you reconsider and retract your remarks, and positively affirm that you have no intention of launching criminal investigations aimed at any of these upstanding companies, because in truth none of them are deserving of such treatment," he wrote. "Certainly when it comes to craigslist, by any objective standard your threats and accusations are unreasonable and unfair."
"We're willing to accept our share of criticism, but wrongfully accusing craigslist of criminal misconduct is simply beyond the pale," Buckmaster continued. "We would very much appreciate an apology at your very earliest convenience. As I'm sure would all of the other fine companies whose executives you've called out as criminals."
The South Carolina Attorney General's office was not available for comment as of this publication. ®