CEO: Craigslist Doesn't Promote Underage Prostitution

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster poses in front of the Craigslist office March 21, 2006 in San Francisco, California AP

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster poses in front of the Craigslist office March 21, 2006 in San Francisco, California
AP

Craigslist said today it has not been able to verify the veracity of accusations made by two women who claimed in newspapers advertisements that they had been sold for sex through the site.

Last week, the women identifying themselves as former child prostitutes took out a half-page advertisement in the Washington Post urging Craigslist founder Craig Newmark to shut down the site's adult services section. But Craigslist disputed the "Dear Craig" allegations made by "MC and AK," as they were identified in the ad, and in a response published on Monday asked them to come forward with more details.

"Hearing your accounts of being victimized by criminals who you mention also misused our site, we are anxious to know that the perpetrators are behind bars," Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist CEO, wrote in an open letter earlier today.

"Would you or the advocacy groups who placed the ads please let us know where the police reports were filed? We have been unable thus far to identify police reports matching the crimes you describe. If Craigslist was misused, we want to learn more so we can improve our preventative measures. If anyone committing such crimes has not yet been apprehended and prosecuted, we want to do everything in our power to assist the police in making that happen."

You can send the information to legal@craigslist.org. We work with law enforcement to bring to justice any criminals foolish enough to incriminate themselves by misusing our site, and want to make sure everything possible has been done in your cases."

Buckmaster called Craigslist "one of the few bright spots and success stories in the critical fight against trafficking and child exploitation" adding that "even politicians looking to advance their careers by publicly criticizing us grudgingly admit (when pressed) that we have made giant strides" in fighting trafficking and child exploitation.

But critics say Craigslist still has not done enough to prevent sex traffickers from using the site. They are likely to seize on accounts like the one the 17-year-old "MC" wrote about in the advertisement.

"I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28-year-old man," she wrote. "All day, other girls and I sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist," the letter continued. "I am 17 now, and my childhood memories aren't of my family, going to middle school, or dancing at the prom. They are of making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths."

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    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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