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Archive for June, 2008

Craigslist’s Child Sex: Who’s To Blame? [smcb]

Monday, June 30th, 2008

crimeblotter-small.jpg

Prostitution on the Internet is hardly a new phenomenon, and shocking as it might be, child prostitution isn’t particularly a new problem in general, either. We’ve been doing the social media crime blotter series for a while now and I really haven’t touched on the prostitution angle in a big way up until this point because when you look at crime related stories in connection with social media, that is the noise you filter around.

So it isn’t particularly unexpected that CNN recently ran a fairly high profile “special investigation” into Craigslist and it’s role in the online sex trade. Generally, it’s very difficult to get brand new Craigslist CEO to comment on their erotic services section and the role it plays in the illegal business of paying for sex (underage or not), but he weighed in for the piece with a few choice words this time around:

Craigslist executives said they abhor the fact that their site is being used for child prostitution but believe that the problem could be harder to track if they removed the category. “It would be a bigger problem if we removed that category and had those ads spread throughout the site,” said Jim Buckmaster, chief executive officer of Craigslist.

In his response to CNN, Jim Buckland says that if the “erotic services” section remains in place, it makes it all the more easy to track illicit activity; if it’s all centralized, you can spot the illegal stuff more easily. He also made mention that Craigslist voluntarily works with authorities in tracking sexual crimes that have connection to the usage of their system.

If you look online into the places for responses to this assertion, two bloggers that cover this type of story regularly immediately spring to mind: ValleyWag’s Melissa Gira Grant and CraigsCrimeList’s Trench. Both bloggers provide two very disparate views of the continual onslaught of these types of incidents. In the case of CraigsCrimeList, Trench responds with:

“If you shut down the erotic services section of craigslist where would these ads go? Used cars? Furniture? Pets? Real Estate? You mean the places where people who don’t use hookers would actually see the ads and actually flag them?”

On the other hand, Melissa Gira Grant attempts to deflect the criticism to the site:

“Buckmaster certainly gives the role of concerned small businessman the appropriate gravitas, but it comes off as a little wooden. Personally, I would have pointed at Dave Elms, jailed proprietor of TheEroticReview and been all, “Why are we the focus of a scary CNN feature? Where’s the salacious magazine piece about that guy, Ms. De La Cruz?”

Taken in context of Melissa’s entire body of work, though, it’s clear that while she doesn’t support underage prostitution, she’s highly sympathetic and supportive to online sex workers. Meanwhile, Trench has traditionally taken the role of the critic, frequently citing cases that support his position that prostitution truly isn’t a victimless crime, and that it’s the responsibility of all social networks to take a more active role in clamping down, though Trench doesn’t give a free ride to the parents of delinquent children either.

The truth, as usual, is somewhere near the middle.  A drum I continually beat here is that parents are responsible for their children (not only legally, but morally).  If your child is selling herself as a prostitute online, then you as the parent bear far more responsibility for that than Craig or his list.

While I agree with Trench that if Craigslist were to take down the erotic services section, online sex trade on the site would likely halt instantly, there is nothing to prevent that same culture from migrating over to MySpace, Facebook, or any other number of very popular social networks that have dark corners that are difficult to police.  It is a game of whack-a-mole, and just as it was pointless to take down all of the ALT.* hierarchy in USENET to eliminate a few child porn pictures, eliminating erotic services from Craigslist will do little to end online sex trade.


Related Articles at Mashable! – The Social Networking Blog:

Connecticut Attorney General Calls Out Craigslist For Selling Sex
Atlanta Requests Craigslist to Remove “Sex Ads”
Craigslist Adds Posting Fees in 4 More Cities
Craigslist Speaks Spanish, Too
Listpic Cut Off by Craigslist
eBay Sues Craiglist; Tired of Not Making Big Money?
Craigslist Sues eBay: Wants All its Shares Back.


Craigslist’s Child Sex: Who’s To Blame? [smcb]

Monday, June 30th, 2008

crimeblotter-small.jpg

Prostitution on the Internet is hardly a new phenomenon, and shocking as it might be, child prostitution isn’t particularly a new problem in general, either. We’ve been doing the social media crime blotter series for a while now and I really haven’t touched on the prostitution angle in a big way up until this point because when you look at crime related stories in connection with social media, that is the noise you filter around.

So it isn’t particularly unexpected that CNN recently ran a fairly high profile “special investigation” into Craigslist and it’s role in the online sex trade. Generally, it’s very difficult to get brand new Craigslist CEO to comment on their erotic services section and the role it plays in the illegal business of paying for sex (underage or not), but he weighed in for the piece with a few choice words this time around:

Craigslist executives said they abhor the fact that their site is being used for child prostitution but believe that the problem could be harder to track if they removed the category. “It would be a bigger problem if we removed that category and had those ads spread throughout the site,” said Jim Buckmaster, chief executive officer of Craigslist.

In his response to CNN, Jim Buckland says that if the “erotic services” section remains in place, it makes it all the more easy to track illicit activity; if it’s all centralized, you can spot the illegal stuff more easily. He also made mention that Craigslist voluntarily works with authorities in tracking sexual crimes that have connection to the usage of their system.

If you look online into the places for responses to this assertion, two bloggers that cover this type of story regularly immediately spring to mind: ValleyWag’s Melissa Gira Grant and CraigsCrimeList’s Trench. Both bloggers provide two very disparate views of the continual onslaught of these types of incidents. In the case of CraigsCrimeList, Trench responds with:

“If you shut down the erotic services section of craigslist where would these ads go? Used cars? Furniture? Pets? Real Estate? You mean the places where people who don’t use hookers would actually see the ads and actually flag them?”

On the other hand, Melissa Gira Grant attempts to deflect the criticism to the site:

“Buckmaster certainly gives the role of concerned small businessman the appropriate gravitas, but it comes off as a little wooden. Personally, I would have pointed at Dave Elms, jailed proprietor of TheEroticReview and been all, “Why are we the focus of a scary CNN feature? Where’s the salacious magazine piece about that guy, Ms. De La Cruz?”

Taken in context of Melissa’s entire body of work, though, it’s clear that while she doesn’t support underage prostitution, she’s highly sympathetic and supportive to online sex workers. Meanwhile, Trench has traditionally taken the role of the critic, frequently citing cases that support his position that prostitution truly isn’t a victimless crime, and that it’s the responsibility of all social networks to take a more active role in clamping down, though Trench doesn’t give a free ride to the parents of delinquent children either.

The truth, as usual, is somewhere near the middle.  A drum I continually beat here is that parents are responsible for their children (not only legally, but morally).  If your child is selling herself as a prostitute online, then you as the parent bear far more responsibility for that than Craig or his list.

While I agree with Trench that if Craigslist were to take down the erotic services section, online sex trade on the site would likely halt instantly, there is nothing to prevent that same culture from migrating over to MySpace, Facebook, or any other number of very popular social networks that have dark corners that are difficult to police.  It is a game of whack-a-mole, and just as it was pointless to take down all of the ALT.* hierarchy in USENET to eliminate a few child porn pictures, eliminating erotic services from Craigslist will do little to end online sex trade.


Related Articles at Mashable! – The Social Networking Blog:

Connecticut Attorney General Calls Out Craigslist For Selling Sex
Atlanta Requests Craigslist to Remove “Sex Ads”
Craigslist Adds Posting Fees in 4 More Cities
Craigslist Speaks Spanish, Too
Listpic Cut Off by Craigslist
eBay Sues Craiglist; Tired of Not Making Big Money?
Craigslist Sues eBay: Wants All its Shares Back.


TWS2008 Announces 10 Winners

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Europe’s new Internet conference, TWS2008, is an exciting conference that takes place today (July 1st) in Tel Aviv, Israel. The conference is organized by the Israeli popular blog the.co.ils and aims to find and present the 10 most promising Internet startups in Israel.

Ten startups were chosen out of 100 that applied. The startups were selected by an impressive list of judges. Amongst them were Guy Kawasaki, our very own Pete Cashmore, Om Malik, Deborah Schultz, Brian Solis, Allen Stern, Chris Brogan, Yair Goldfinger, and Emily Chang. Today, the spotlight is on these 10 startups that were able to convince our judges that they have a unique offering to the world.

Here are the 10 winners:

Wix is an authoring platform that allows users to create striking and easy-to-build web content in flash (web sites, widgets, blogs etc), and publish it anywhere they want online. Users can create content without coding in flash/html or being constrained by templates. At the heart of the product is the drag & drop editor that allows users to pull in any content from the web or from their own media files (video, audio, animation, text etc) and create web content.

WorkLight develops and markets a line of server products that allow organizations to do more business securely using popular consumer Web 2.0 tools and technologies, like iGoogle, Windows Live, Netvibes, Facebook, and others. Through WorkLight, employees, channels, partners, and consumers connect to protected enterprise data (and to each other) using Web 2.0 services.

HiveSight helps marketers discover new facts about consumers. The technology sifts through and analyzes millions of social media profiles and blogs to construct consumer profiles. HiveSight’s customers use the online application to write simple queries that define consumer panels, and get instant reports on demographics, consumer interests, trends and more. It’s the fastest, easiest and most affordable way to explore consumer markets and discover new insights.

Qoof is the video commerce platform that bridges the world of Online Shopping, Internet Video, and Direct Response TV to create a distributed, targeted, and ersonalized video commerce network. Think QVC for the internet. The most powerful way to sell a product online is with video and as more merchants are looking for video solutions, the Qoof Platform is their answer.

WikiAnswers gives you useful answers about anything by harnessing people’s collective knowledge, but with a wiki-twist. The mission is to grow a collaborative answers resource; anyone can ask, answer or edit questions, building a global Q&A database covering all topics.

Dapper’s vision is to allow people to consume the web where, when and in whatever format they choose. Dapper users point and click on the content they want from a website, and Dapper turns this content into a live semantic feed that can be used in a variety of formats (RSS, widget, XML). Dapper is leveraging its core technology to create live content-based ads (MashupAds) that combine publisher and advertiser content within an interactive ad — creating the world’s first content ad network.

Mo’Minis is a revolutionary platform for the development and publishing of mobile games. The platform allows advanced as well as non-skilled developers to rapidly create original games from scratch and have them seamlessly supported on a wide range of handsets. Furthermore, developers can collaborate and share game assets on Mo’Minis developers’ community and enjoy distribution and monetization services through various on\off-deck channels.

Kaltura provides the first open-source video management platform, empowering any site with online video. With Kaltura, web publishers can seamlessly and cost-effectively integrate interactive and collaborative rich-media functionalities, including uploading, importing, editing, remixing, and sharing. Kaltura also offers its global network of publishers content hosting, transcoding, advertising, merchandising, and syndication.

MocoSpace is a mobile social network that allows anybody with a web-enabled phone to have a full social networking experience on their most trusted device, the mobile phone, whenever and wherever they want. Members Users enjoy expressing themselves and staying connected to friends by setting up a profile page, sharing photos and video, chatting, inboxing, instant messaging, blogging, debating in forums, sending mobile cards and playing games.

Nuconomy’s Studio is the world’s first “performance insight platform,” built from the ground up to provide completely new ways to measure today’s interactive Web. Go beyond the old page view model and start to measure the new metrics of the web – your users and site engagement and contribution metrics.

TWS2008 is honored to give the stage today to these promising startups and show the world how much Israeli technology has to offer.

In 2009, the conference plans to open the event to all European startups and to become the official European launch pad for Internet startups in the region.

For all those of you who are not in the area or haven’t registered to TWS2008, all videos wil be published the following day.


Related Articles at Mashable! – The Social Networking Blog:

Tomorrow in Tel Aviv: TWS2008
Google I/O Ticket Winners Announced
Webby Awards Winners Announced
Announcing the Winners of the Google I/O Ticket Giveaway
LG’s Video Contest Hosted on YouTube
Mashable.com Awarded Most Improved Blog
Firefox Extension Contest is On & Poppin’





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