Craigslist's New Cash Cow: Sex Ads

Site doubled the price, stopped donating profits to charity
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2010 12:21 PM CDT
Craigslist's New Cash Cow: Sex Ads CEO Jim Buckmaster, left, and founder Craig Newmark outside their office in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, file)

For a free site, Craigslist is doing all right: The classified-ad behemoth's profit is projected to climb 22% over last year, reports the New York Timesdriven almost entirely by its controversial sex ads, which have been connected to prostitution, human trafficking, and one murder charge. In response to crimes linked to the site last year, Craigslist began manually reviewing sex ads—but it also doubled the price and stopped donating the proceeds to charity.

Critics charge that manually screening the ads—estimated to be worth $36 million this year—hasn't gone nearly far enough. "I think there’s no question that the site continues to facilitate prostitution,” says an assistant to the Illinois AG. Craigslist counters that it's done "the best and most responsible job of combating child exploitation and human trafficking," and that it's legally protected from liability resulting from user posts.
(More Craigslist killer stories.)

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