Attorneys-general from 17 US states have signed an open letter to Craigslist calling for the immediate closure of its adult services section.
The free ads site introduced manual screening of adverts by qualified attorneys in May but the lawyers insist this is not enough.
Activists began the new round of attacks with half-page adverts in the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, which claimed to tell the story of two underage girls who sold sex on the site. Craigslist responded by asking for details and police reports to be able to investigate the claims. The company suggested the stories probably pre-dated the last round of changes it made.
The Attorneys General's letter, available from this page as a pdf, says criticism of the site's adult services section reflects recognition "that ads for prostitution -- including ads trafficking children -- are rampant on it. In our view, the company should take immediate action to end the misery for the women and children who may be exploited and victimized by these ads." We wonder what sort of "adult services" they expected to find in the adult services section.
The letter seems to conflate child sexual abuse and prostitution - it cites a CNN "investigation" which placed "a fictional prostitution advertisement on the Adult Services section, and received 15 telephone calls soliciting sex in just a three hour period".
Craigslist has yet to respond directly to the letter but used an earlier blog post to describe its work with police and NGOs.
It also noted that many other rival sites such as eBay have failed to check individual adverts before they are posted. The post even notes the large spike in traffic enjoyed by the Village Voice's backpage.com when Craigslist first started manually screening its adverts.
The letter was signed by Attorneys-General from Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. ®