Censorship of Craigslist does more harm than good

Credit: Patrick Gage Kelley/Contributing Editor Credit: Patrick Gage Kelley/Contributing Editor

In response to protests from state attorneys general, Craigslist has shut down its Adult Services section — at least temporarily — replacing it with just a black bar that reads “Censored.” While there may be a cause for concern that some of the ads posted in this section seem to be bordering on prostitution, we at The Tartan believe that this blatant censorship is a direct violation of the American value of freedom of speech.

Without strong proof about the true intentions of these advertisements, it is unfair for attorneys general and human rights organizations to lobby for the regulation of this forum — and a blow to the freedom of the Internet for Craigslist to comply with these terms. Though the so-called “Craigslist murderer” abused the site for nefarious ends, this does not mean it should be censored. The law is clear that Craigslist is not responsible for content posted by its users. Prostitution existed long before Craigslist began, and it will, unfortunately, exist long after the site is gone. Pretending that censoring Craigslist will stop sex crimes is pure fantasy.

Moreover, banning the content from being published in the Adult Services section will only allow it to disappear from public view — nothing else. It will still appear hidden in other sections of Craigslist and on other less accessible places on the Internet. Prostitution, human trafficking, and the rape and murder cases associated with them, will continue. Removing one of their possible forums will not stamp out the illegal activities automatically. By protesting against the adult section, attorneys general are only erasing an easy-to-find directory of these activities — tantamount to just sweeping them under the rug.