Craigslist may face criminal action in South Carolina unless the online classifieds service stops running ads the state says promote prostitution and pornography, the state attorney general's office said Thursday.
Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster probably never guessed that his name would be involved with murder, a sociopath, and angry Americans. After all, he simply ran a classified ad website...what kind of trouble could he get into?
Well, he may spend time in the big house if he is not careful...although it is highly doubtful. However, he has taken his share of legal and public flogging, so much so that he has responded via the Craigslist blog:
"When critics rush to tar craigslist as especially dangerous, it's important to put things in perspective," he writes. "Craigslist users have posted more than 1.15 billion classified ads to date, easily 1000x the combined total ever posted to the print publications involved in all of these 'print ad murders.'"
Sex on Craigslist is not hard to locate: Just go to the "personals" and look for the link that says "misc. romance and casual encounters." Now it is true that Craigslist is not the first public "portal" that has been used for people trying to hook up for sexual activity...MySpace, Chat Rooms, AOL...they have all been exploited for sexual purposes. With any service that is used to put two people together that have never met, there is a good chance that the person you meet may not be the person that was portrayed. It's one of the pitfalls of personal "online" branding: we have the ability to be who we want to be.
Mr. Buckmaster does have a valid point in that predators have found prey via other methods, and not just Craigslist. However, when newspapers used to run classified advertising, there were no pictures of naked women, no promises of sexual gratification-and if there were, they were veiled as something else entirely.
It's really nobody's fault anymore. Craigslist is just another company that is not responsible for the indirect damage they've enabled. The CEOs of banks, automakers, mortgage lenders...it's not their fault, either. Let the public beware! After all, they were just trying to make a little money. So some people died. Other's lost their life savings. It's not our fault.
However, as the world becomes interconnected, some sort of responsibility must be taken by those that provide the means. We assume that others are as ethical (for better or worse) as we are, and it is not too much to ask for a little corporate responsibilty, as well. If someone was hurt on your property although being warned prior to the fact that danger existed, there would still be culpability inolved for having something of danger exposed to the public.
It's not that I think Craigslist is guilty; rather, I feel that they should take some of the responsibility. Yet, the fact that Craigslist has entirely blamed everyone but themselves, and has even researched other murders that have happened via classified ads seems a bit caustic and a little too casual. Luckily, the killer was caught quickly...maybe at the beginning of a serial killing spree. What would Craigslist have done if there were ten murders?