In response to pressure from law enforcement agencies, massive internet message board Craigslist has decided to shut down its "Erotic Services" section. According to the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the section will be closed down in seven days, so you only have a week to purchase the variety of interesting and eclectic services offered therein.
At issue, of course, is the fact that many of the aforementioned services, while possibly erotic, are illegal in the United States. You can't sell people sex, and using a message board as a conduit for prostitution will bring down the ire of law enforcement, especially in the wake of a very high profile murder allegedly arranged over Craigslist.
In place of the current Wild-West style of self-monitored posting, Craigslist will create a system where employees personally monitor and approve adult ads.
This is not the first change Craigslist has made in response to legal and interest group pressures. In November of 2008, Craigslist agreed with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and over 40 state attorneys general to try to curb prostitution on the site. They added a phone verification system and began requiring credit card verification for listings in the Erotic Services section.
Personally, I find it amazing and surprising that law enforcement has been so late in noticing that "professionals" are advertising on the site. Craigslist has been around since the early days of the internet, so someone was asleep at the wheel here. Of course, shutting down part of a website because you don't like the way people use it is a little like closing a street corner because that's where prostitutes meet their dates--it's a lot of trouble for legitimate users and only a minor inconvenience for offenders. Craigslist's new plan will certainly not work, because prostitutes and Johns will not respect the classification system of the site and start placing ads in other, more innocent, dating sections. Seriously, The Law Enforcement Community, these people are going to find each other somehow: At least with Craigslist, it's out in the open.
If the less seemly side of the internet does invade different sections of Craigslist, I pray they say out of the "Used Boat" listings, because I'd be like, "Hey, lady, I'm not interested in your oral skills; I just want to buy a damn a canoe!"