Craigslist is merely a portal, a platform in which to advertise.
It is essentially a sidewalk. The revolutionary San Francisco classifieds site finds itself in the crosshairs of a of populist politicians across North America for its prostitution-related advertising. Ontario cabinet minister Laurel Broten, along with a chorus of her more reactionary colleagues, want the site to censor its sex .
Not only is this the epitome of hopeless nannying, but this seemingly perfunctory gesture could throw all aspects of prostitution — including the policing of it — into disarray for years to come. Craigslist has been functioning in Ontario since it landed in Toronto in Aprilbut only now are MPPs making hay about the sex services being shopped on it. Clamping down on unregulated sex makes law-and-order types salivate.
This is not about prostitution and the morals surrounding it. Craigslist is self-policing, and effective at it.
It has a very efficient flagging system, where any anonymous user — no need for an or to — can alert a dedicated staff of moderators to an illegal ad. Enough flags and the ad comes down automatically.
Response times have proven to be lightning-fast. And, as a result, the sex on Craigslist are a non-starter in the overall discussion of sex trafficking or child prostitution. With or without Craigslist, sex work will endure.
Police can go through it one ad at a time and easily pick off any sex traffickers. And they do.
Close the site and those networks of sex are forced to go elsewhere, hiding in dark corners Minister Broten has probably never even imagined. Ontario could make a common-sense decision to work with the site instead of simply shutting it down.
In the heyday of Napster, all the illegal downloaders were in one place. The music industry could have made a deal that might have made Napster the first version of iTunes, or kept it open and prosecuted the most egregious offenders. Instead, it shut Napster down, scattering file-sharers and damaging the music industry for a decade.
Broten is threatening to do the same to Craigslist. Could someone remind her she picked the wrong decade to start overseeing the internet?
By Joshua Errett. Nearly 2.
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