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September 10, 2010

Child Prostitution: Craigslist has nothing to do with it.

Let me start with this: I’ve dedicated a portion of my life to finding criminals on the internet, and have worked with both local and federal law enforcement to help catch child predators. Child Prostitution and Sex Slavery is a plague on the human race that needs to be eradicated completely. Recently 16 State Attorney Generals made what seemed to be a positive step in asking Craigslist to better police their adult-services section to prevent child prostitution. Their desire was that the adult-services section be completely shut down because they accused the site of being complicit in allowing advertising for these services to be allowed an in theory assisting in the exploitation of children. This claim against Craigslist, is ridiculous and worse, changes the focus from the real issues surrounding this issue and attempts to blame a technology for the actions of pedophiles.

It’s important in this debate to clear the air: we are not talking about prostitution in general, with its own set of complaints, its own moral and political issues. The 16 Attorney Generals who took on Craigslist specifically brought up the most horrific of crimes, the forced prostitution and rape of children. They made general claims that Craigslist.com was a cesspool of child prostitution, that there were thousands of advertisements available on Craigslist.com every day that made children available sexually to predators for money. While I applaud the Attorney Generals for finally paying attention to the issue of Child Prostitution in this country, they are taking the easy way out, focusing on a company that has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue to make headlines.

The problem with the claims of the 17 Attorney Generals is that they are only grounded in press spin. While Craigslist does have advertising for prostitution, so does hundreds of publications, online websites, and magazines in this country – and the Yellow Pages. Their basis is that one can go online and see a virtual cornucopia of child-sex advertising. While I know that there have been some cases on child prostitution on Craigslist.com, an overwhelming amount of the sex-based advertising is that of consensual services between adults. Most of the claims of law enforcement and the media are based on a few real cases, but mainly on the claims that certain “keywords” signified child prostitution. When the press releases and media reports say that they found “thousands of ads on Craigslist.com promoting child prostitution” they are basing this on a very incorrect assumption.

This assumption is simple: that every advertisement that says “young”, “barely legal”, “fresh” and a dozen other keywords, are advertising child prostitution. Law Enforcement looks for these keywords and then mark that advertisement as a suspect “child prostitution” advertisement. For investigative purposes this is very, very important – but it does not make a real situation of child-prostitution. Remember, companies like Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler and many porn magazines promote “barely legal” in their magazines, videos, and websites all the time. There is 4.5M results on Google for “barely legal” for porn sites, should we assume that Google is promoting child prostitution? If we are to really want to blame anyone for the seemingly great appetite of some men in the United States for “barely legal” women, we should be blaming the porn companies which promote this type of porn with photos of women in pigtails and school skirts.

Dr. Lois Lee, one of the heading experts in forced prostitution of Children, seems to agree with me. She told me that “Blaming Craig’s List for child prostitution is like blaming Alexander Bell for providing the telephone.” Instead of making real steps in the fight against sex-slavery, the Attorney Generals have gone after the technology, almost like there are Neo-Luddites who look at a computer and complain that it’s evil, causing people itself to get on the internet and search for evil things. The problem in this Country with child prostitution has nothing to do with Craigslist anymore than drug dealing has to do with prepaid cell phones. Most child prostitution doesn’t even occur on the internet, but on the streets, with organized gangs, with poor populations who can’t protect themselves. The real issues are much deeper and have to do with a broken child protection system that allows runaways to fall through the cracks, with parents not monitoring their children’s whereabouts, with the issues of uneven prosecution against the victims instead of the johns. By blaming Craigslist we remove the needed focus on the real issue of catching these criminals, the reasons child-prostitution occurs, and what is really wrong with our society as a whole. On top of that, if there are cases of child prostitution on Craigslist, we are removing one of the best tools in catching these criminals. Craigslist.com is involved with preventing these ads, forwarding them to law enforcement for investigation – without this, many of these guys will go back to peddling on the street again, making it much harder for them to be caught.


In perhaps the fastest growing industry ever, one person has made a name for himself as a leader and innovator. Pace Lattin, the publisher of the top newsletters in new media and online advertising, is one of the inventors of many of the technologies and methods that have become standards in the industry. He has been called many things, including a rabble-rouser, a guru, an innovator and a watchdog — but one thing stays the same: he is one of the most interesting leaders and commentators in the online advertising industry. Marketing Sherpa, a leading marketing research publication called him the most influential journalist in online media for a reason. IndustryPace.com

7 Responses to “Child Prostitution: Craigslist has nothing to do with it.

    avatar d3so says:

    Craigslist is being picked on due to previous connections with dating incidents.
    That’s why authorities and regulating it due to probable cause.

    avatar Bryan Valdez says:

    Pace,

    Dude you work for the BIGGEST criminal e-thug out there.

    REALITY CHECK??

    Just WTF are you doing besides moderating comments on that “top rated” new blog of yours.

    If it’s shady, your boss is ALL in it. So I guess you’re the PR guy to spin it all into something nice.

    avatar Joe Putman says:

    One of the news stories I watched on this topic had an ex-cop private investigator who claimed that before Craigslist, prostitutes were safer because they could depend on their pimp to protect them. Now the girls can get their own clients, so they are giving up the security their pimps had provided them. UTTER NONSENSE! Craigslist FREED prostitutes from abusive pimps who often take most if not all the money their girls are earning and often abuse the girls to get them on the street and keep them there. Instead of protecting prostitutes from sex slavery the closing of the adult services section of Craigslist will return the prostitution marketshare to pimps while decimating the independent girl’s ability to work for herself and keep the proceeds of her efforts.

    avatar Fef says:

    Of course CT AG Richard Blumenthal jumped on the anti-CL bandwagon. Blumenthal rode the anti-MySpace pedophile issue when I worked there. Everything he wanted to do would have made MySpace a more dangerous place for children while glorifying his name/candidacy.

    avatar Pace Lattin says:

    “Biggest Criminal eThug”. I work for myself, who you talking about?

    avatar Freedom Run says:

    Ok, I understand your point, however, I think what everyone is missing, including the attorny generals, is that Craigslist has a section for “therapy” in which MANY traffickers are posting “massage therapy/spas” with pictures of extremely young Asian women, touting that they have “private” entrances for the client’s privacy. I don’t know about you, but if you are getting a legitimate massage why on earth do you need a private entrance?! Instead of shutting down the adult services, why don’t they go after the pedophiles & traffickers in BOTH sections. It’s fairly simple to tell the difference between a legitimate massage/spa center vs. these others. In fact, I am consistently flagging for inappropriate content when I see it. If we all do our part, then we can help those who have been trafficked find safety and freedom. Just my two cents.

    avatar Bella says:

    The World Heath Organization submitted a report in 2005 to the United Nations, to address how to stop violence against women. They said all women and children need to be given shelter,basic services to include access to water, even in times of War and Displacement.
    Seems to me rather than continuing THE MORAL WITCH HUNT AGAINST CONSENTING ADULTS IN PRIVATE, that these do gooders who want to save us from ourselves would be concerned about these 500 women and children being raped by Armed rebels in DR Congo , or maybe since all countries of the United Nations agree to implement these services by 2015, and so far all the USA has done is thrown some hookers in jail, Stalked Middle Aged Women on line and then abused them during their arrests, hey call our employers and landlords as this is the Biggest Hate crime in America. Hating the sex worker just because she exists, is the same as racial hate, hating someone because of their sexuality or religion and LE encourages society to make these women social outcasts of their own communities. Do you think we will be safe if we become homeless and have to live on the street or would we just become a target for more rape and violence.
    All women deserve the same sanction and protection under the law, whether she gives it away or charges for her time, its nobodys business who I have sex with in private.
    If we are going to regulate sex workers, then we would need to regulate everyone having sex. Heath Dept studies already show sex workers have 80% less std’s then the general public, we do not want prostitution legalized so the pimps will continue to exploit our teenagers,we only want to be decriminalized and be allowed to work as independents without harassment from Law Enforcement , we do not want to be forced to work in brothels and be regulated, and we want to be able to report violence and abuse against us. In Sweden they no longer prosecute the sex worker, instead they made it illegal to buy sex so only the John and Pimps could be prosecuted and human trafficking went down.
    In Rhode Island they created a loophole for indoor prostitution back in 1979 and it worked well til Nov 2009, wen LE lied and said they could not investigate Human Trafficking without this new law. We all know that is a lie as all they have to do is knock on any door and say they need the women to step out side and say she is ok and does not need assistance or they are coming in to investigate, this is what they do in domestic violence cases. Also keep in mind the Craiglist Killer was caught because after he murdered the girl in Boston, he then came to RI robbed a women and she called LE to report it and he was caught. She did this because she knew she had protection under the law in RI.
    This is all about morals and not about protecting women.
    Keep in mind this could easily be your child, mother, sister, aunt or cousin or best friend. Now does it make sense that LE lies to the public and rarely do they lock any of these pimps up for 25 years for human trafficking but LE has all the time in the world to stalk middle aged adults online, who are clearly not being exploited nor are they minors.
    I for one use to pay the newspapers 12,000 a year to run an adult ad and I paid the yellow pages over 15,000 for a escort ad. Craiglist only charged 10 bucks and this gave the sex worker the ability, to get upscale clients who where willing to pay a lot more.
    If we went after predators and pimps with the same ZEST as we go after the middle aged sex worker our children might be a lot safer.
    Contact your local rep and demand they not spend your tax dollars on the moral witch hunt, we all know by making the industry go further underground that were making it easier for the pimps. It is not OK for women to continue to be abused by LE and Society because they don’t approve, what are we going to do next lock up the sluts in the bars that are just giving it away, or the NSA hookups or the swings clubs

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