Craigslist "Censors" Then Goes Silent

By Matt Baume
|  Tuesday, Sep 7, 2010  |  Updated 3:57 PM PDT
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Sadly, neither Craigslist founder Craig Newmark nor CEO Jim Buckmaster get shout outs in "Craigslist Money."

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Craigslist has made some powerful enemies. Sexy ones, too.

The primitive website has weathered controversy ever since its creation over a decade and a half ago, and this past weekend they made the move to ban ads for sex workers. A bar that reads "censored" now appears where adult services could once be found.

It's still unclear if the shutdown is permanent.  Although Craig himself told a NBC staffer that a statement was on the way, here it is Tuesday and we still haven't heard anything from the San Francisco-based company.

Removing the section was in response to attorneys general who think it's their business what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms. More convincingly, human rights organizations pushed for the ban as a way to curb human trafficking.

Entrepreneurs still have plenty of options of course. MyRedBook, Naughty Reviews, BackPage, CityVibe, ErosGuide, and Men4RentNow can expect to see a healthy boost in users.

Harvard law professor John Palfrey told the Associated Press he saw it as a victory because it moved the ads off a highly visible location.

"Will people be able to find these ads online? The answer is almost certainly," he said. "Will they be able to find these on legitimate sites? I think the answer is probably not."

A column in the Huffington Post Tuesday claimed the removal of adult service section on Craigslist could actually lead to an increase in sex crimes.

One of the people less than thrilled by the move held a sign that read "RESTORE ADULT SERVICES NOW," in New York's Union Square. "This guy has to be one of the most honest protesters ever!" wrote a Valleywag tipster.

Mashable users are similarly nonplussed. About 70 percent opposed the censorship, with nearly half arguing that prostitution should be legal.

Craigslist's headquarters, an unassuming house out in the Sunset District of San Francisco, has recently adopted a more inconspicuous approach, painting over the sign that once distinguished the property. With all the protestation going on -- both before and after the ban -- who can blame them?

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