Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Craigslist and Prostitution

Posted by Maggie on August 21, 2007

A rather incoherent article today cites Atlanta’s mayor as blasting craigslist for promoting child prostitution. The evidence? Photos of a woman requesting money for sex who claims to be 21. They don’t think she’s really 21. But they don’t know who she is or how old she is.

My brief perusal didn’t turn up anything that they’re claiming to have seen. Of course, if they followed craigslist’s policy, they would have to immediately flag anything that was illegal or violated the terms of use. No mention in the article about whether they did so.

I admit I’m getting a little weary of all the political outcry against social networking sites. If myspace wants to cooperate with states as it’s been doing, that’s fine, I guess. But this particular instance seems pretty far-fetched to me. The mayor’s website for this campaign is pretty scarce on facts or policies. For better info about the problem, go to the Juvenile Justice Fund, where there is a summary along with a full report on their findings. Their recommendations include stricter law enforcement measures, additional care for children affected, and additional research.

I look forward to a more thorough discussion with better research data to address the issues. Such a difficult and complex problem should be handled with more care and thought by the city. I don’t know what this kind of announcement is supposed to accomplish.

Update:
The article has thankfully been revised.
A much more thorough write-up. Now we get response detailing the 1st Amendment issues addressed. We also hear that “some of the best lawyers in Atlanta” were involved in the writing of the letter. But there’s still nothing concrete about what craigslist is supposed to do beyond its current terms of service, which seem to cover these types of issues. The internet is impossible to guard in its entirety, and sites like myspace and craigslist present extremely difficult monitoring hurdles. There’s still no information about whether this really has anything to do with child prostitution.

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