Under pressure from state officials after a Boston medical student reportedly killed a masseuse he met on Craigslist, the classifieds site is cancelling its racy "Erotic Services" section with a new one reviewed by employees.
Is Craigslist's new "adult" category just a name change? "We're very encouraged that Craigslist is doing the right thing in eliminating its online red light district with prostitution and pornography in plain sight," said Connecticut attorney general Dick Blumenthal. "We'll be watching and investigating critically to make sure this measure is more than just a name change." Craigslist will cancel all existing Erotic Services ads in seven days, and start up the new category. In other words, it's just a name change.
There is one critical difference: Craigslist employees will be reviewing ads for tell-tale prostitution-friendly phrases. (For example, if your escort asks for a "donation" of "roses," she's actually talking dollars, and it's not optional.) Of course, this just means that the sex workers will go to other, less-monitored areas. Craigslist Missed Connections will never be the same! Or they'll go to other websites altogether.
The only highlight in this silliness: The image of hypernerdy Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, who constantly reminds everyone that his only role at the site is as a customer-service rep, manually reviewing sex ads. We reached Newmark on the phone. As we started to ask him how his customer-service department would handle the new workload, he reminded us there were other Craigslist customer-service personnel, and then referred calls to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster and PR rep Susan MacTavish Best. Come on, Craig: At the very least, this new assignment should give you something to talk about at parties besides how terrible newspapers are.