Attorney General: Attorney General Demands Craigslist Curb Apparent Prostitution Ads

Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Demands Craigslist Curb Apparent Prostitution Ads

March 27, 2008

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today demanded that Craigslist purge apparent, often graphic solicitations for prostitution rampant on certain sections of its website.

In a letter to Craiglist's attorney, Blumenthal demanded that the site better enforce its rules prohibiting illegal activity such as prostitution, and inappropriate ads and images.

In spite of rules banning such content, Craiglist's "erotic services" section is rife with ads containing explicit language and images bordering on pornographic, as well as hourly rates and descriptions of services clearly sexual in nature, Blumenthal's office found.

Blumenthal sent the letter after several months of discussions with Craigslist in which the site refused to take aggressive steps to curb apparent prostitution ads. The site acknowledged to Blumenthal's office that no staff members regularly check for such postings.

"Craigslist is violating its own rules -- which bar illegal activity and inappropriate content -- by failing to remove ads promoting prostitution," Blumenthal said. "In Connecticut alone, certain site sections feature dozens of explicit, nearly pornographic photos, hourly rates and invitations to customers. Despite my office's repeated requests, Craigslist refuses to purge such postings -- stonewalling and denying the obvious.

"I am especially troubled that Craigslist has disregarded and dismissed this serious and growing problem -- in effect turning a blind eye, refusing to hire or dedicate anyone to review postings that contain graphic nudity and solicitations with hourly rates, even in the 'erotic services' portion of the website. The company effectively denies the undeniable, incomprehensibly and unacceptably. Although Craigslist touts measures to ban illegal activities and limit or remove inappropriate postings in its erotic services section, a cursory review of this section shows that its supposed solutions are woefully and obviously inadequate.

"Craigslist provides many beneficial services to Connecticut consumers -- indeed, ought to be elevating Internet standards and its own reputation, not lowering them and sullying its good name. While other sites and print publications may contain such sexually explicit and even pornographic ads, Craigslist should help raise the bar not reduce it.

"I urge that Craigslist recognize its obligation to enforce its own rules banning this apparent inappropriate content and illegal activity. The website has a moral if not possible legal responsibility to assure that it avoids serving as a conduit for prostitution and other illegal activity. My office will weigh all options, including possible legal action, if the site fails to curb content clearly prohibited by its rules."

Blumenthal's letter requests Craiglist's lawyer respond within 10 days with information on how the site plans to better enforce its rules prohibiting inappropriate content and use of the site to promote illegal activity such as prostitution.

Blumenthal's letter is in the wake of an arrest of a Connecticut woman earlier this month who allegedly used Craigslist to advertise for prostitution clients.

View the letter to Craigslist - (PDF-104KB)