Craigslist De-lists Adult Services Ads


The Story

Big news this week about Craigslist's decision to censor its adult services ads.  Craigslist has been under fire for allowing not-so-subtle ads for prostitution -- ads that people claim have facilitated human trafficking and assaults against women.  Before this decision, a CNN reporter asked Craig Newmark, the company founder, blunt questions about the ads.  Newmark didn't handle the situation very well, and the company has been criticized for its lack of communication around the censorship decision.

Craigslist Newmark
Read more here.

Discussion Starters

  • From the company's perspective, what are the arguments for and against excluding adult services ads on Craigslist?  Do you think the company made the best decision?  Why or why not?  Read more from the Wall Street Journal here.
  • On Craigslist's website, the company posted the word "censored" with a black background over the former adult services category.  Why did the company choose this way to communicate the decision (with no news statement or press release, at the same time)?

Assignment Ideas

  • Watch the CNN video with Craig Newmark and evaluate his response to the reporter's questions.  In small groups, first discuss Newmark's approach.  Why did he react this way and resist her questions?  Second, discuss alternatives.  What could Newmark have done to come across more positively?
  • Craigslist has not yet issued a news statement, but is expected to do so.  Before you look at the statement, write your own.  How would you represent the decision to the media?  After the company's statement is issued, compare it to your version.  What differences do you observe?