Quietly and somewhat defiantly over the Labor Day weekend California-based Craigslist pulled its controversial Adult Services advertising section, an alleged haven for prostitution and subject of authorities' ire.
The move, which saw the website place the word “censored” over the link to the section, had Silicon Valley pundits speculating about whether Craigslist was sincere or if this was a publicity stunt. “If this announcement is a stunt or a ploy, it will only redouble our determination to pursue this issue with Craigslist, because they would be in a sense be thumbing their nose at the public interest,” Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut's attorney general, told The New York Times.
Even Conan O'Brien weighed in on the issue, tweeting, ” … looks like the 'used futon for sale' ads are about to get a lot more interesting.”
Craigslist started its Adult Services paid classifieds, which site officials said would be reviewed internally, after alleged “Craigslist Killer” Philip Markoff was charged last year with the murder of a woman who advertised her services on a free section called “Erotic Services.”
The content of the listings' character didn't seem to change much, however, and the site continued to be criticized.
Even as some first-amendment scholars said Craigslist would be exonerated in court if challenged, it appears for now that the site has backed off its controversial ad section.