Cook County Sherriff Tom Dart wants the popular website to eliminate its “erotic services” section. Dart states that Craigslist serves as the “single largest source of prostitution in the nation”. Dart also stated “Missing children, runaways, abused women and women trafficked in from foreign countries are routinely forced to have sex with strangers because they're being pimped on craigslist." Craigslist e-mailed a response to CNN stating that “craigslist is an extremely unwise choice for those intent on committing crimes, since criminals inevitably leave an electronic trail to themselves that law enforcement officers will follow”. Craigslist entered into an agreement with 43 states to impose restrictions on its “erotic services” section. These restrictions include phone number verifications to make sure real phone numbers are being used in the ads, and also imposing a listing fee for posting in that section. Dart responded to the measures imposed by craigslist by saying it is “ dirty money” and that pimps use stolen credit cards or just post their ads in other free sections of craigslist.
On this issue I agree with Dart. Practically speaking, there is no good way to deter pimps, prostitutes, or individuals offering sexual services for that matter from posting ads on Craigslist. Although Craigslist makes a good argument that it is unwise for individuals seeking to promote prostitution to post on Craigslist because they are giving a trail to the authorities as to their whereabouts; this fear alone obviously does not deter them from posting as evidenced by the amount of posts still there. Imposing a requirement for individuals wishing to post in the “erotic services” section to pay a fee using a credit card does not seem to be a viable way to deter prostitution either. In defense of Craigslist I would also argue that it is not viable for them to try and regulate every single section of their website. Individuals who want to solicit sexual services will figure out how to post on different sections of their website.
Craigslist now has an “adult services” section in lieu of the “erotic services” section. The biggest difference being that all photos and text will be manually reviewed by craigslist before being posted.