The Washington Post has recently run an article entitled “Think twice before answering that ad: 101 murders have been linked to Craigslist”. That number is provided by the AIM Group who maintain a public list on the Craigslist Killings – Craigslist Safety blog. They also include the criminals who have been killed which I don’t, but more or less the number is correct.
The article also goes on to mention Aim Group’s SafeTrade initiative to turn police stations into safe zones for craigslist transactions. That should tell you volumes right there on how unsafe craigslist really is. If a major watchdog group and numerous police departments across the country are urging you to use police stations to do business on craigslist then it really isn’t all that safe.
As I’ve said since craigslist has such a low barrier to entry and the fact that it’s almost anonymous it allows a large criminal element to inhabit the site and craigslist isn’t about to do anything about it…
Neither Craigslist nor its publicist responded to multiple interview requests, and the company has not commented publicly on safety issues since a 2010 Congressional hearing.
And if they can help they won’t since that costs money. Craigslist may have been founded on Bay Area hippy principles, but today they are nothing but cold-hearted capitalists whose only concern is the bottom dollar.
Ever since I started posting about crimes as they relate to craigslist I’ve been talking about making a list of all the victims who have been killed by way of the online classifieds site. I no longer have to worry about that daunting task becuase someone with better resources than me has.
I’ve talked about the AIM Group many times before. They’ve done many studies on the effects of human trafficking that craigslist and backpage have had. More recently they’ve put together a list of all the victims of ‘craigslist killings’ since 2007. In those years I’ve lost count of how many victims there have been. The AIM Group lists the number of victims at 86 and I’m sure that number will continue to increase at an alarming rate since there were 21 of these killings in 2014 alone.
Granted that number is a small number compared to all the transactions that take place on craigslist but 84 is still an inordinate amount of people who were taken away from their families in some of the most violent fashions often time just for a shiny bauble or trinket they were selling.
In that vein Aim Group has started an initiative called SafeTrade. Their goal is to organize police stations and other law enforcement offices to be safe havens for online classifieds transactions with no cost to the police departments.
Help take back the online classifieds from criminals and visit the SafeTrade website today for further information.
In offensive against sex trafficking, Ann Wagner steps into controversial realm:
Backpage attorney Liz McDougall
The article I linked to from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is about how U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (MO) is endorsing the SAVE Act. The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act would make it illegal for U.S. websites to allow advertising for prostitution.
In the same article the AIM Group claims that 82 percent of all online prostitution takes place on Backpage.
Yet here is all that Backpage’s mouthpiece and lawyer Liz McDougall had to say about it…
“Despite the comments of some legislators, the problem and proposed legislation are Internet-wide, not restricted to or caused by Backpage.”
Which basically translates to ‘Oh yeah? Well what about the other 18 percent?’ Pathetic and cowardly.
Shaking things up…:
Oodle CEO Craig Donato has taken to the official Oodle blog in order to once again defend the AIM Group study on craigslist crime that Oodle funded.
In it Mr. Donato once again stands by the statistics that the AIM Group cited. The problem is that the tech community has slammed Oodle and the AIM Group for going after the tech community’s sacred cow of craigslist and have totally ignored the study itself.
To that Mr. Donato had this to say…
I regret, however, that we framed the issue as an indictment of Craigslist versus a problem that plagues our industry. It devolved the dialogue – from a conversation about safety (and what could be done about it) to one about a cat fight in the industry. Our intent to create awareness and dialogue became buried in the drama of the day. That was a missed opportunity.
I believe Mr. Donato is being humble as craigslist and its supporters, who are cult like in my opinion, were the ones who started the catfight. Remember kids, if creaigslist was as safe as they claim there would be no ‘catfight’.
I feel like Mr. Donato and the AIM Group have been victims of shooting the messenger.
Dear Jim Buckmaster and Craig Newmark: An open letter about crime and Craigslist:
In this blog post from AIM Group head honcho Peter M. Zollman he defends the study that the AIM Group made where they called craigslist a cesspool of crime. Mr. Zollman says a lot of the things I’ve been saying and Mr. Zollman also actually uses craigslist.
Here’s a little bit more than a snippet from Mr. Zollman.
Dear Jim and Craig —
You may feel that “just” 20 murders linked to Craigslist during the past three-and-a-half years — 12 of them during the past year alone — are acceptable. You shouldn’t.
You may be unconcerned that almost every day in the United States, someone calls police to report that they were assaulted, robbed or ripped off by someone they met through Craigslist. You should be concerned.
You may feel that “hundreds of millions or billions” of safe transactions mean that everything’s okay with Craigslist. You’re kidding yourselves.
And you may think the ridiculous analogy that Craigslist is “safer than the city of Oakland” means something. It doesn’t.
The sad fact, and I say this with great respect because I use Craigslist too, is that your site has indeed become a cesspool of crime. Despite your post that “crime is exceedingly rare on Craigslist” and Craigslist is a site of “exceptional safety,” you’re wrong.
I can’t add any more than that, I urge you to read the entire blog post from Mr. Zollman. At least someone is making sense in this debate.
Backpage continues to gain from prostitution advertising:
While the focus right now is on craigslist being labeled as a cesspool of crime let’s not forget about the other cesspool, the Village Voice Media owned backpage.com.
The AIM Group, a consulting group that monitors the business of online classifieds among other things, is saying in their latest report that while the ads for prostitution are down on backpage their profits from these ads are up due to the price increase for those type of ads. So basically Village Voice Media is charging the pimps and traffickers more to use their site since they know they won’t complain.
I wonder why that none of the Village Voice newspapers ever investigate their parent company over the human trafficking ads and the money they make from it. Didn’t the Village Voice used to be all about ethics?
As the Million Dollar Man once said everybody has a price.
In his most recent blog post Oodle CEO Craig Donato responds to the accusations made by Jim Buckmaster and others about the recent study by the AIM Group commissioned by Oodle.
In his blog post Mr. Donato basically says three things.
The first is that he believes the crime stats cited by the AIM Group are solid. I have to slightly disagree but not in the way you may think. Like I said I believe the numbers were generously low but then again I’m just some guy with a website so I’ll defer to the AIM Group.
The second thing that Mr. Donatio says is something that I’ve been saying for years. Even if craigslist is safer than Oakland as Jim Buckmaster claims 12 murders in the past year connected with craigslist is still 12 too many.
Lastly Mr. Donato admits that Oodle commissioned the study and did it for marketing purposes. There was no hiding the fact that Oodle paid for the study as some have claimed. If you read the blog post and the study from the AIM Group it is clearly stated that Oodle paid for the study and can you blame them. In marketing if you have a competitor that is obviously inept in trying to protect their own users of course you’re going to go after them. The only craigslist competitor that doesn’t do that off the top of my head is backpage because they’re not trying to draw attention to themselves because they’ve taken over in prostitution where craigslist left off. But I digress.
With Oodle being the company behind Facebook Marketplace it’s obvious to me that craigslist views them as a threat and they’ve been responding, in my opinion, much like Gadhafi has been responding to his government crumbling around him.
Pay-to-Play “Research” from AIM:
It didn’t take long at all for craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster to respond to the crime figures as determined by the AIM Group.
As usual Jimmy B responds in his sour grapes style by accusing the AIM Group of skewing the craigslist crime numbers since they were paid by Oodle for the report.
Classified listings scraper/aggregator and CL wannabe Oodle has paid AIM Group to falsely portray craigslist as fraught with criminal activity.
He goes on to call The AIM Group defamatory and claims that the statistics are false. Jimmy even goes on to say that if craigslist were a city it would be safer than Oakland.
James Temple at the SF Chronicle is reporting that, in terms of crime rate, or incidence of crime, craigslist is roughly 11,000 times safer than the city of Oakland.
Since Jimmy sequesters himself in the Bay Area I’m not surprised he picked Oakland but that’s like picking on a handicapped kid to compare your crime stats to Oakland.
Jimmy also says that the statement that AIM made that the ‘old rules of meeting public no longer apply’ and that CL users should exhibit some common sense. After the robberies that I have posted about that have happened in broad daylight in public places the old rules don’t apply anymore no matter how far in the sand Jimmy sticks his head in.
Rather than instituting such options as user profiles and moderated ads Mr. Buckmaster would rather tell the victims of crimes on craigslist that basically they deserve what they got because they’re stupid.
Craigslist research: ‘A cesspool of crime’:
The AIM Group was commissioned by classifieds site Oodle.com to determine the number of crimes that had been committed through craigslist in the past year. The AIM Group’s assessment is that, in their words, craigslist is a cesspool of crime.
You can see their determinations not only on the infographic above but you can also download a copy of the report in PDF form the AIM Group themselves here.
In their report the AIM Group says that even by their estimations the number of crimes associated with craigslist are probably low and I would have to agree. I believe that the numbers of murders connected with craigslist are accurate but the number of robberies and prostitution/trafficking charges seems woefully low.
The AIM Group also said in their report that craigslist can’t be held responsible for the crimes that are committed through their site, which legally is true. However if people are being brutally killed and assaulted through your website wouldn’t you take extra steps to ensure the safety of your users instead of throwing up your hands and saying “you’re at your own risk”?
Another thing that the report says is that even the normal precautions of meeting someone in a public place or doing business locally aren’t enough anymore when dealing with craigslist because criminals have become so brazen that those precautions do not even guarantee your safety anymore. Once again I agree.
As I’ve said before while craigslist started out as a good idea like most really good ideas it has become bloated and corrupt due to the facts that with craigslist being free, unmoderated and going mainstream that it has attracted the criminal element. Top it off with craigslist’s hesitation to do anything about and you do have the cesspool that the AIM Group says it is.
(In the interest of transparency this post was not reimbursed by Oodle, The AIM Group or anyone else. The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of me, Trench Reynolds.)
Price increases drive growth in adult ad revenue:
According to this blog post from the AIM Group the Village Voice Media owned backpage.com has not only raised their rates for ‘adult ads’ but is also still raking in the cash…
Village Voice Media, which owns Backpage.com, increased rates in several markets. Before it eliminated prostitution ads, Craigslist charged $10 for a one-week listing in the United States. At the time, Backpage prices ranged from $3 to $12 per online post in 23 U.S. cities surveyed by the AIM Group. Based on an online review of prices in December in those same cities, Backpage raised rates to at least $5, although rates in the highest-priced markets were reduced to $10. Rates for reposting ads to the top of a particular day, and rates for highlighting a listing, also were revised.
The AIM Group estimates it generated $2 million from prostitution ads in December, nearly four times the amount generated by its closest competitor.
It seems that Village Voice Media and backpage.com are doing a lot about prostitution and human trafficking. Enough to line their pockets with $2 Million in ad revenue for the month of December alone.
Again I find it ironic that while Village Voice Media is supposed to be this champion for free speech that they find it necessary to cash out at the price of other people’s freedom.