Craigslist has indefinitely closed the adult services section of its website , a week after a group of state attorneys general said there wasn’t enough protection in blocking illegal ads that promoted prostitution.
The former “adult services” section has been replaced with a black bar that reads “censored” after scrutiny over the jailhouse suicide of “Craigslist Killer” last month.
While Craigslist has maintained that the ads on the website are tamer than they appear in the newspapers, critics have compared these adult services to virtual pimping.
Just like many free online forums, Craigslist typically does not review ads before they are posted by users. However,in 2008, under pressure from 40 state attorneys general, Craigslist began requiring posters to provide a working phone number as well as pay a fee for placing an ad in the adult services section.
Several months later, Craigslist adopted a manual screening process in which postings are reviewed before publishing. However, state officials believe Craigslist has not been doing enough to stop illegal ads from appearing.
The company said Saturday it would issue a statement on the matter, though it didn’t say when.
In an Aug. 24 letter, the state attorneys general said Craigslist should remove the section because it couldn’t adequately block potentially illegal ads promoting prostitution and child trafficking.
Authorities point to the case of 24-year-old Philip Markoff as a prime example of the dangers posed by Craigslist services. The former medical student was accused of killing a masseuse he met through the hugely popular classified advertising site, which was founded by Craig Newmark. Markoff committed suicide in the Boston jail where he was awaiting trial.
Craigslist’s adult services section displayed ads for everything from personal massages to night time companionship, which critics say veered into prostitution.
**Update** Shortly after the black “censored” bar was posted on Craigslist, ads for sexual activity have reappeared on the website. The censored section has become the most popular section of the website since it’s posting.