Secretly, did America realize that there was a seedy underbelly flowing just below the surface of craigslist? Certainly, in major metropolitan areas, some of the advertising was suspect, especially in the "Erotic Services" section. Plus, there were the third-page stories of good folk getting ripped off by advertisers. But there was no real cause for major safety concern. That's changed in the last couple of weeks as the online classified service has fallen under both public and judicial scrutiny.
Is this a case of karma finally catching up to the site, or is craigslist simply having a bad couple of weeks?
Not including the "first" craigslist killer, Philip Markoff, craigslist has been rocked by scandal, and the list is as diverse as it is unsettling:
Korena Roberts is to be arraigned for murdering a woman, and possibly her baby, after meeting them on craigslist to sell baby clothes
A North Carolina man was charged with using craigslist to find someone to rape his wife at knifepoint
Eric Claiborne, of Georgia, was charged with "offering" a seventeen year old girl to engage in prostitution
Ester Amy Fischer, author of American Courtesan, writes a tell-all article about selling sex on craigslist in The Huffington Post
Wichita, KS, craigslist rapist, David Gage, was found dead in his cell prior to his trial
Granted, blame cannot be attributed to the online classified service for these occurrences. (There is no implicit danger in searching for baby clothes.) However, be assured that the company's ethical standards are under scrutiny as both a corporate and community citizen. Following the negative press and public concern, it is quite possible that craigslist will no longer be the hip, "freeconomy" advertising site it is today. On the other hand, it may take more than a couple of harmful stories to topple the internet classified giant; according to Alexa.com, craigslist.org ranks 24th globally, and falls into 8th place in the United States, behind Google, Yahoo, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, MSN, and Windows Live.