Craigslist CEO: Our site is not sex-related
Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster denied offering sex-related services on his company's website today, even as Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called on the online advertising service to take stronger actions to combat pornography, prostitution, and child trafficking on its site.
"I would not describe any section of our site as 'sex related,'" Buckmaster wrote in response to a series of e-mailed questions from the Globe, while acknowledging that Craigslist offers an "erotic services" section.
"Roughly one percent of ads posted on CL are in the 'erotic services' section," he wrote, adding that most Craigslist customers go to the section where the site offers job listings.
Craigslist has increasingly come under fire as one of the nation's largest sex-for-sale advertising generators. Earlier in the day, Buckmaster told a CNN cable TV news program that the company feels "terribly" that an accused killer in Boston allegedly used the online service to target his victims.
On Monday, Boston police arrested Philip Markoff, a second-year medical student accused of violently attacking two women he met on the site and fatally shooting one, 26-year-old Julissa Brisman. Investigators said he trolled Craigslist looking for women he could rob, possibly to fuel a gambling problem.
Connecticut AG Blumenthal held a press conference today to demand that Craigslist take additional steps to control sex-advertising on the site. He asked the company to end its policy allowing users to post erotic and often pornographic photographs on its site, and hire staffers who would scan for advertisements that promote blatantly illegal activity, like prostitution and child sex trafficking.
"Craigslist has the means - and moral obligation - to stop the pimping and prostituting in plain sight," Blumenthal said in a press release. "Like any bricks-and-mortar establishment, Craigslist has the responsibility and power to prohibit prostitution, pornography, and inappropriate behavior on its premises."
Blumenthal's demands came just hours after Craigslist's Buckmaster appeared on cable TV news channel CNN in one of his first live interviews since the Markoff arrest.
"We feel terribly, and it's quite sad that anyone would lose their life," Buckmaster told CNN. "And we're horrified that use of Craigslist could in any way be connected with a violent crime of this nature. It just causes us to redouble our efforts to try to get across to users to take a few common sense precautions that eliminate most of the risks."
A story in this morning's Globe noted that Craigslist, an online bulletin board where many classified ads are posted, pursues a dual role of promoting sex trade advertising and assisting police working to solve crimes linked to erotic ads on the site.
To read that Globe story, please click here.
A second Globe story noted that Boston University medical student Philip Markoff (right) was arraigned yesterday on charges of murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery.
To read that story, please click here. Watch the video of Buckmaster's CNN appearance below.
(By Megan Woolhouse, Globe staff)