Earlier this year, online classifieds Web site Craigslist removed listings for adult services in the United States over a growing threat of a drawn-out legal battle—even though some victims rights groups warned that shutting down the listings would just make it more difficult to track pimps, human traffickers, and others exploiting the listings. Now, Craigslist appears to have quietly taken down adult services listings from its sites around the world, rather than just in the United States.
Craigslist has not officially announced nor commented on the takedown. The story was apparently first broken last weekend by Wired, which noted that adult services sections available in Canada, Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa were gone.
Craigslist originally created the adult services listings as a way to clean up abuse of its dating forums, and instituted a fee to submit a listing to the services at the recommendation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Craigslist also conducted manual reviews of postings to the sections, and rolled out tools to help users report suspected illegal activities. However, the fee structure backfired, with some human rights groups accusing Craigslist of profiting from prostitution, human trafficking, and the exploitation of minors. However, at least in the United States, Craigslist maintains it was operating within the law, and that it made every effort to cooperate with authorities to identify and shut down illegal activity in the listings.
Few expect that shutting down Craigslists’ posting forums will strike a serious blow to online sex trafficking around the world. For instance, online classified ads service Backpage.com has seen a significant upsurge in its adult services section since Craigslist shut down their forums—although Backpage.com is also a target of shutdown efforts by U.S. states attorneys general. ,