Craigslist has given in to the immense media attention regarding its "erotic services" ads and announced they are shutting the section down. In its place they are now adding an "adult" section, which appears to hawk the same type of personal adult services.
A lot of this occurred after it was discovered that a killer used Craigslist to stalk his victims, who were offering adult services. Since then the nasty subject of teenage prostitution on Craigslist has been covered in the mainstream press and the site has been referred to as an "online bordello."
Craigslist announced the change on their blog and made some points in their defense. At the same time, they announced they will be charging for the ads in the new section and the proceeds will go to charity. All of the new ads will be reviewed by Craigslist employees before they are posted.
The post refers to statistics that the chances of a predator abusing their forum are less likely than a predator using print ads to commit a foul deed. Also pointed out was that Craigslist has safety features built into the site that most "classified advertising" venues don't have. These include blocking, screening, telephone verification, and a community flagging system. The company also claims they cooperate (at a high level) with law enforcement and that predators can be tracked electronically back to the computer they are using. Last but not least, they point to safety tips prominently posted on all forums. These safety tips run the gamut of illegal schemes commonly found on the Internet.
Investigations are normally confidential matters, but if someone was tracking a sexual predator some of these forums could provide real-time investigative capabilities to resolve the case. They could literally track everything to a particular location given the right circumstances and cooperation by the forum and the ISP. Quite often, the frustrations voiced by those tasked with investigating internet crime are that the site and or the ISP do not cooperate as much as they should. If these sites aren't going away, then maybe the solution is to make is easier to tag the offenders?