Craigslist CEO launches scathing attack against SC Attorney General McMaster

Chicago (IL) – Craigslist has launched a scathing attack against South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster. The PR offensive comes just days after McMaster pledged to initiate a criminal investigation against the website for allegedly displaying prostitution ads and pornographic material.

Craiglist had agreed to replace its “erotic services” category with a moderated “adult” section after coming under pressure from a number of states, including South Carolina. Nevertheless, the decision has apparently failed to appease McMaster.  

“This content was not removed as we requested. We have no alternative but to move forward with criminal investigation and potential prosecution,” the AG explained in a statement.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster responded to McMaster’s allegations with a lengthy blog post.

“Two days ago you accused Craigslist, and me personally, of engaging in criminal acts, reiterating your previous threat to file unwarranted and unconstitutional charges against us that are clearly barred by federal law,” wrote Buckmaster. “These very serious allegations followed the dramatic changes we implemented last week, widely applauded by other Attorneys General, that go far beyond the policies and procedures you yourself personally endorsed just 6 months ago, as indicated by your signature on the Joint Statement.”

Buckmaster also recommended that McMaster reconsider his “unreasonable” and “unfair” threats for the following reasons:  

  • Threats of criminal prosecution are utterly unwarranted by the facts.
  • The charges threatened are unconstitutional and barred by federal law.
  • The adult ad screening regimen is stricter than the one endorsed.
  • The adult services ads are fewer and tamer than other SC venues.

In addition, Buckmaster warned McMaster to fully consider the “implications” of his accusations against Craigslist.

“What’s a crime for Craigslist is clearly a crime for any company. Are you really prepared to condemn the executives of each of the mainstream companies linked above, and all the others that feature such ads, as criminals?” asked Buckmaster. “We’re willing to accept our share of criticism, but wrongfully accusing Craigslist of criminal misconduct is simply beyond the pale. We would very much appreciate an apology at your very earliest convenience.”

As TG Daily previously reported, Craigslist has implemented various measures in an effort to discourage the inappropriate use of the service by sex operators. For example, in March 2008, individuals posting erotic ads were required to provide a phone number that was subsequently verified by an automated calling system. In November 2008, erotic adverstisers were asked to provide a valid form of identification and credit card number.

However, the site came under increasing pressure to remove erotic ads after a Boston medical student was accused of killing a masseuse whom he had allegedly met on Craigslist.