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Could Craigslist have stopped the Craigslist killer?
Assigning responsibility for keeping Craigslist users safe
 

What happened
Under pressure following the arrest of suspect Philip Markoff in the Craigslist killer case, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said Wednesday that the website did not offer sex-related classified ads, and that offers to exchange sexual favors for money were expressly prohibited. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the company should do more to combat prostitution and other crimes. (The Boston Globe)

What the commentators said
“You knew it was going to happen,” said the blog TechDirt. The stories about how the Craigslist killer found Julissa Brisman, who was murdered last week in Boston, through the website’s ads were bound to lead some people to suggest “that Craigslist deserves some of the blame.” But that makes no sense—“crimes of this nature have gone on for ages.” Jack the Ripper didn’t use Craigslist.

The murder of a young woman selling “erotic services” is in some ways “an old story,” said The Boston Globe in an editorial. But Craigslist has options—it could eliminate the “erotic services” category or hire more people to block prostitution ads—so it’s legitimate to ask about the “role virtual communities play and what responsibilities they should exercise.”

Craigslist is a wide-open marketplace, said Jennifer Denman in Ozarks First, where you can find everything from an erotic masseuse to an old couch—“with no regulations, no password, pretty much no oversight.” There’s little to discourage criminals from using the website as a resource—and if Craigslist can’t weed out the bad guys, people who use the site have to find ways to keep themselves safe.

 

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