The advertisement, paid for by the FAIR fund, took the form of a personal letter to craigslist co-founder Craig Newmark, from the two trafficked females using the initials AK and MC. In the letter, the trafficked females provide an overview and some details of their abductions and subsequent sexual trafficking and describe how Newmark’s site enabled said trafficking.
“In 2009, I met a man twice my age who pretended to be my boyfriend . . . This ‘boyfriend’ soon revealed he was a pimp. He put my picture on Craigslist, and I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night,” AK wrote.
“I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28 year-old man. I am not an exception. The man who trafficked me sold many girls my age . . . All day, me and the other girls sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Criagslist . . . dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock – and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car,” MC wrote.
“Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me . . . I personally know over 20 girls who were trafficked through Craigslist. Like me, they were taken from city to city, each time sold on a different Craigslist site – Philadelphia, Dallas, Mikwaukee, Washington D.C. My phone would ring, and soon men would line up in the parking lot,” AK wrote.
“I am 17 now, and my childhood memories . . . are making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths,” MC wrote.
Craigslist co-founder Jim Buckmaster* responded to the allegations in the form of a personal letter to AK and MC published on the craigslist blog. “. . . [W]e are anxious to know that the perpetrators are behind bars. Would you or the advocacy groups who placed the ads please let us know where the police reports were filed? We have been unable thus far to identify police reports matching the crimes you describe,” Buckmaster wrote.
“If anyone committing such crimes has not yet been apprehended and prosecuted, we want to do everything in our power to assist the police in making that happen . . . We work with law enforcement to bring to justice any criminals foolish enough to incriminate themselves by misusing our site, and want to make sure everything possible has been done in your cases.”
Buckmaster continued, “craigslist is used by more than 50 million Americans to facilitate billions of interactions each month, and criminal misuse of the site is quite rare.”
Additionally, “craigslist is one of the few bright spots and success stories in the critical fight against trafficking and child exploitation.”
Yes, bad people are using craigslist to do bad things to children and adults. The problem is, people have been doing bad things since long before craigslist began. I would bet cash money that people will still be doing bad things long after craigslist is gone, and that the bad people will find other ways to get their word out.
We can either play Whack-A-Mole trying to silence information distributors, or we can put the information distributors to use in sting operations that bust/incarcerate the pimps and free the trafficked.
Here’s a thought: How about not having someone else write a response to a letter written to you (I’m looking at you, Newmark), and don’t try to turn tragic stories of human sexual trafficking into an opportunity for spin (I’m looking at you, Buckmaster).
Both moves come across as insincere, snotty, and just plain lame.