Craigslist pulls its 'adult services' section

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Craiglist has bowed to pressure to shut down its adult services listings, replacing the section with the word 'censored'.

The move follows heavy criticism of the online advertising site, including an open letter from 17 attorneys generaltwo weeks ago which claimed some observers were referring to the site as 'the Wal-Mart of child sex trafficking'.

Last month, a letter appeared in the Washington Post from two women who said they had been trafficked for sex against their will, one from the age of just 11, through ads placed on Craiglist.

Clearly, slapping the word 'censored' on the site rather than just quietly removing the ads is a PR exercise, but it's not clear whether the section has been removed permanently - Craigslist's refusing to comment. The 'censored' sign appears only in the US, with the site as accessible as ever to visitors from other countries.

The move has had some support from the company's critics.

"I've battled along with other attorneys general to have Craigslist remove its erotic services section, and now its adult services section, in order to stop it from promoting the horrific crimes that children and women endure when they are trafficked," said Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan.

"If today's action by Craigslist prompts other websites, such as backpage.com, to respond to the public's demand to stop turning a blind eye to the devastation human trafficking causes, it will protect the lives of children and women in Illinois and across the country."

Craiglist's said to have been making as much as $45 million per year from adult services - which, if true, would amount to as much as a third of the company's total revenue.

Unfortunately - if unsurprisingly - ads for sex services are continuing to appear on the site under the thinnest of disguises - there is still a section offering 'Casual Encounters', for example.