Craigslist attacked for promoting child prostitution

August 23, 2007

craigslist_150 Craigslist, the popular online classified service, has been attacked by Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin for its alleged role in promoting child prostitution.

“Children are being marketed through craigslist,” Franklin told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

According to Atlanta officials, craigslist and other similar sites account for 85% of sexual encounters that men arrange with underage boys and girls.

Franklin wrote a letter to craigslist demanding that the company take responsibility for the advertisements carried on its site. She wrote that the company should do more to prevent craigslist being used to promote and enable child prostitution.

Franklin demanded that the site beef up warnings on the pages for erotic services and personal ads, and remove advertisements for the sale of sexual services.

Reactions to Franklin’s attack have been mixed, with some pundits claiming that a ban on advertising of erotic services on would actually interfere with attempts by law enforcement agencies to identify and capture sexual predators.

“So, where will the sexual predators and child molesters go?” fumed Jim Hubbard, of Lawrenceville, GA.

“I don’t know, and neither does she. But, I do know that this idiotic move on the part of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin will only make it more difficult to find, catch and prosecute child molesters and others committing sexual crimes. She has simply scattered the worst in our society instead of removing them from our streets.”

And this from Diana McCaul:

“As a sexual abuse survivor I can assure you that with or without craig’s list, children will be molested by people who have learned this behavior from someone else. It stops one individual at a time. I am living proof. Stop shooting the messengers or there will be no one left to deliver. Look around your house before you throw those stones.”

Franklin’s demands may not carry any legal weight according to Greg Lisby, a Georgia State University professor.

“I see what the mayor says, that this is promoting child prostitution,” Lisby told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“But advertising is protected by the First Amendment. … there are things that are distasteful, offensive, but not necessarily illegal.”

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