It seems a rare occurrence to run into anyone today who has not heard of Craigslist. Being so well known, it’s no wonder that the popular classifieds website has been manipulated for illegal purposes that hide behind the guise of the “useful tool” image. Regardless of some positive efforts to crack down on the issues by Craigslist itself, the site has been used for the exploitation of minors and women for the purpose of sex trafficking and forced prostitution. Based on the continued existence of an adult classifieds section (which provides a space for postings offering erotic services), traffickers, pimps, and other sex trade promoters use the ease of the site to sell the services of women, many of them minors.
Despite some efforts toward discouraging sex trafficking through the site, many are in sharp criticism of Craigslist’s steps towards helping solve the rampant problem. The site has recently begun to charge a nominal fee for users to make postings in the “adult services” classifieds section, a drop in the bucket for those feasting off a multi-billion dollar industry and a serious source of revenue for Craigslist, a factor that seems to imply that the online classifieds giant has no intention of dissolving its support for erotic services.
Abolishing the adult services portion of the site is exactly what advocates of anti-trafficking movements are calling for. Even after taking a few measures of caution and placing a few roadblocks in the way of proponents of human trafficking from utilizing the site, the question still stands: Why even offer the opportunity to post erotic ads?
Unfortunately, Craigslist is not the only website accused of breeding such issues. The Internet offers the opportunity for massive amounts of information transfer with little to no monitoring. As responsible citizens advocating against human trafficking, we need to make sure we are moving forward in our efforts in every way, including making responsible decisions about what we purchase and utilize that might be fueling these terrible injustices.
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