Craigslist Claims Marked Reduction in 'Erotic Services' Postings

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ad site Craigslist said Monday it has reduced the number of "erotic services" postings that appear on its various pages, the result of a partnership with state governments and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Posting on the Craigslist blog, CEO Jim Buckmaster wrote that the early results from the joint effort announced last November between his company, 40 U.S. state Attorneys General and NCMEC have been "spectacular." A graph on the blog illustrated the "erotic services" posting trend volume over the past 12 months, and showed reductions down from 90 to 95 percent for five unnamed major U.S. cities.

Buckmaster credited screening measures and also said "the ads that remain on the site are much improved in their compliance with our Terms of Use and local laws."

Those measures include a working phone number and credit card required from all who post in "erotic services," CNET reports.

Buckmaster added his staff has been working with law enforcement agencies to target human trafficking and exploitation of minors.

Craigslist is donating 100 percent of net revenue from posting fees in the "erotic services" sections to various soon-to-named charities.

The ad site also addressed last week's announcement by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart that his Chicago-area department had sued Craigslist for promoting prostitution.

"Frankly, Sheriff Dart's actions mystify me," said Buckmaster on the blog page.

"In mid- and late-2007 we had very positive communications with the Cook County Sheriff's Department, in which we explained how 'erotic services' came to be, the purposes it is intended to serve and the statutes that support our right to operate as we do," Buckmaster said, adding the site had since initiated the new measures to reduce misuse of postings, as well as enacting the interstate partnerships, which include Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

"As our counsel explained to Sheriff Dart's department in 2007, Craigslist cannot be held liable as a matter of clear federal law for content submitted to the site by our users," said Buckmaster, who intends to fight Dart's lawsuit.