Huffpost Media
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Craig Crawford Headshot

Craigslist, the Sex Ad Thing

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

At the end of a series of interviews I did this week with Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark he takes on the flap about sex ads on his site, and deumures on his role in the death of newspapers.

It does seem odd that Craigslist is targeted by grandstanding politiicans, even though similar ads appear other places, such as alternative weeklies, and even the phone book.

I also talk with Newmark about the future of social networks and get his tips on how to be an effective online activist (see links below).

TRANSCRIPT:

  • CRAIG CRAWFORD:
    We're here with Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist. So you have a great first name, but you did more with it than I have.
  • CRAIG NEWMARK:
    It couldn't be a better name. And, yes.
  • CRAWFORD:
    You're an icon to nerds everywhere.
  • NEWMARK
    I don't know about the 'icon' part, but I am a nerd. A high-school, plastic pocket protector, thick black glasses taped together, the whole cliche.
  • CRAWFORD:
    Now a little more about Craigslist, it's an online classified ad service. Did you kill newspapers?
  • NEWMARK:
    Not to my knowledge. There's a lot of...
  • CRAWFORD:
    They killed themselves.
  • NEWMARK:
    Well there's a lot of urban legend around this. Newspapers have much bigger challenges than classified ad issues.
  • CRAWFORD:
    So what you did is you came in and basically took a large part of the newspaper industry's business, which was classified ads, but they were charging so much. And you swooped in with a much lower fee and took that business away from them.
  • NEWMARK:
    What the publishers tell me is that there are probably bigger issues relating to the niche classified sites in the sweet spot of classifieds, like cars and jobs.
  • CRAWFORD:
    On your blog you talked about, I liked your phrasing of it, the "adult services" thing. The Attorney General in Connecticut I guess is leading the charge. On this issue of sex ads on Craigslist, have you ever considered dropping them?
  • NEWMARK:
    We listen to what our community says. We're driven by that. I think we're engaging now in a new wave of listening. And everything we do from day one is based on what the community tells us. We need to listen more. And then I can get back to everyone - including you if you want - on that.
  • CRAWFORD:
    But you don't just sit there and let any ad blindly go on there. You're actually monitoring them?
  • NEWMARK:
    Those ads are very actively monitored. Basically we work with all of the AGs, all the Attorneys General, and basically we're doing what they requested us to do.
  • CRAWFORD:
    And you're manually monitoring each ad? It's not just a computer filter?
  • NEWMARK:
    Our team is doing that. And that's the customer service team. Me, I tend to handle other kinds of abuse. For example the most persistent thorn in my side is misbehaving apartment brokers in New York City. But don't get me started.
  • CRAWFORD:
    How do you deal with that? Because you don't present yourself as vouching for every ad that's in there.
  • NEWMARK:
    That's right.
  • CRAWFORD:
    So how do you filter out the the ads. What sort of standards can you apply? It must be a very difficult process.
  • NEWMARK:
    Well, when it comes to the adult services we have a team who talks to experts. And as far as we know we do the best job of anyone.
  • CRAWFORD:
    The greatest legacy of Craigslist. What would you say it is?
  • NEWMARK:
    Well we help you get through the day. Finding a place to live or a job, selling your stuff. Bartering services, which in this economy is big. On a deeper level we show tens of millions people that you can work together to get stuff done and it's relatively painless to do so. And that leads people to more important forms of social networking, like Facebook or Twitter.
  • CRAWFORD:
    Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, congratulations on not just sitting around collecting your money. You're actually out there trying to save the world.
  • NEWMARK:
    Thanks, but again, this is not altruistic. Again my approach to saving the world is to get everyone else to do it, and to locate people who have good intentions and know how to get stuff done.

Also on Video

Helen Thomas and Craig Crawford Sign Books
Saturday 1-3 PM, American History Museum
Click Here for Details