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A "New Balance"? Craigslist Confirms Plans to Remove 'Erotic Services' Ad Category, Coming Soon 'Adult Services'

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on May 13, 2009 1:55 PM

Under fire from numerous state attorneys general, Craigslist is canning its "erotic services" category for ad listings. That is, at least, in its current form which will be replaced with a modified version.

Calling Craigslist a "blatant Internet brothel", Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced, "I was informed by Craigslist late last night that it will eliminate the 'erotic services' section within seven days, create a new section called 'adult services,' and manually review every ad posted there to bar flagrant prostitution and pornography." Furthermore, CNN notes advertisers will be getting charged $10 for each ad placed.

I suggested in a prior post on the subject of prosecuting websites for users' misconduct that, despite potential legal protections Craigslist may enjoy, it's quite possible that websites and/or providers are approaching the public-opinion tipping point at which it becomes necessary to re-calculate the "balance" between online freedoms, on one hand, and abusive or illegal behavior on the other.

Craigslist's announcement on the matter, entitled "Striking a New Balance" appears to indicate they may have followed a similar line of reasoning in making their concessions. Craigslist suggested in coming to the decision, it considered the various viewpoints of law enforcement, businesses, as well as Internet and free speech experts and they are "optimistic that the new balance struck today will be an acceptable compromise from the perspective of these constituencies, and for the diverse US communities that value and rely upon craigslist." Some officials appear to still be skeptical about the new "adult services" category, and are waiting for and watching Craigslist's steps.

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