Technology

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Assessing the Dark Side of Craigslist

February 10, 2008 10:16 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Some think Craigslist’s lax registration policies make its owners responsible for the growing number of crimes committed using the site. The courts disagree.

30-Second Summary

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Craigslist is the seventh most popular English-language Web site in the world, according its own statistics. But it has also been a tool in a growing number of crimes, such as prostitution, child exploitation, and the theft of property and identities.

The most recent case involved a woman who advertised for hitmen on the site. She wanted them to kill the wife of a man she was having an affair with.

Although FBI cybercrime units monitor Craigslist daily, its estimated 12 million ads and 15 million viewers can make policing it difficult.

There have been many lawsuits brought against the site’s operators, arguing that they should be responsible for what is posted on the site. But a judge has yet to find the owners liable, The Portland Tribune reports.

In fact, Newsweek writes that Craigslist has a good record of policing itself and cooperating with investigations. 

The site’s chief executive and programmer Jim Buckmaster says no more crime is perpetrated through Craigslist than in the world at large. He adds, “With literally billions of positive human interactions facilitated by Craigslist, it is quite remarkable how little crime is associated with the site.”

However, many disagree. Kelly O’Connell, an editor at Internet law consultancy Internet Business Law Services, thinks the classifieds site attracts so much crime because users are not required to enter any personal information in order to use its services. 

Trench Reynolds, who runs craigscrimelist.org, a blog tracking Craigslist-related crime, says the site operates like “the inmates are running the asylum.”

Although social-networking site MySpace has also been criticized for its slack monitoring policies, it has recently adopted more stringent security measures to protect underage users and deter child molesters.

Headline Links: Recent Craigslist crimes

Opinion & Analysis: ‘Craigslist or Crimeslist?’

Reference: Craigscrimelist.org

Related Topics: MySpace moves to protect underage users

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