Craigslist Reaches Agreement With State AGs to Regulate Sex Ads

Slav Kandyba
SAN FRANCISCO — Online classifieds company Craigslist has reached an agreement with 40 state attorneys general to better screen its “erotic services” section for illegal content.

In an agreement announced today, Craigslist will require advertisers to provide valid identification and will charge the vendors a fee of about $10. Vendors also will be required to provide a valid credit card, according to a report in the New York Times.

Craigslist said the money will be donated to charities working on child exploitation and human trafficking issues.

Sexually explicit photos can often be found in the “erotic services” section, sometimes used by prostitutes and sex-oriented businesses. Adult performers who moonlight as escorts also sometimes post in the section.

On behalf of 39 other state attorney generals, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal earlier this year sent a letter to Craigslist demanding that it remove the erotic ads and enforce its own rules against prostitution.

“They identified ads that were crossing the line,” said Jim Buckmaster, chief executive of Craigslist. “We looked at those ads, we saw their point and we resolved to see what we could do to get that stuff off the site.”

In March, Craigslist asked the advertisers to provide a valid phone number, and using an automated system, called them advertisers to read a series of digits. The advertisers then had to type into a web page before their ad would appear on the site. Craigslist said that reduced the number of ads.

Craigslist on Wednesday also filed 14 lawsuits in San Francisco against companies that were helping advertisers circumvent the telephone verification system by generating Internet telephone numbers that could be used temporarily and then discarded.

Blumenthal said the new measures would discourage many sex operators from using Craigslist.

“The mere act of authentication will be a very significant deterrent,” he said. “There are very few prostitutes who want to be called by Craigslist and asked to give additional identifying information.”