Summary: Craigslist -- the online marketplace that pretty much still looks the way it looked when it went live all the way back in -- has the same problems every online marketplace has: spammers and scammers. The battle against people seeking to abuse the system has been ongoing since the site's inception, but inCraigslist implemented a new control measure that temporarily stymied spammers who had found several ways to beat the systems ly employed by the online market.
To mitigate spam and limit the effectiveness of scam operations, Craigslist began requiring a phone for verification on certain postings. This posed a problem for spammers hoping to engage in mass distribution of their "offerings" since it was unlikely any spammer or scammer would want to have their personal phone tied to their illegitimate if not actually illegal operations. When an ad was submitted to Craigslist, the site's automated verification process would call the ad poster to relay a one-time code that would permit the listing to be posted.
That wasn't the end of this new weapon against spammers deployed by Craigslist. A long discussion on a message board frequented by spammers suggested several workarounds to avoid the countermeasures implemented by Craigslist. To give you some idea how far back this discussion goes, there are recommendations for utilizing pay phones.
Some suggested using a method favored by drug dealers and other criminal conspirators: burner phones.
This was an admittedly-expensive workaround for a business model that requires hundreds of views to attract a few paying victims. Others suggest buying subscriptions to online spam enablers -- ones that provided users with tons of disposable s without the expense of buying new phones every time a phone was rendered unusable. Some members speculated Craigslist was eliminating even more options by rejecting any s linked to VoIP services -- the cheapest option for aspiring scammers. No solution appeared to work for everyone, strongly suggesting the phone verification move by Craiglist at least temporarily put a dent in scammers' efforts.
Decisions to be made by Craigslist: Should reputation damage control i. Should users who are willing to verify their identities be given more credence when reporting that may lead to blacklisting of other users? Questions and policy implications to consider: Does requiring a phone eliminate users create a new barrier for entry that may push legitimate users to competing services? Does blacklisting s linked to reported limit the spread of spam? Or can it help spammers willing to report other spam artists to solidify their control of the market?
Resolution: As is the case anywhere goods are sold online, there is no permanent resolution. What worked in is not nearly as effective a dozen years down the road. But the discussion in this forum shows it did have a severe impact on spam almost immediately, even if its effectiveness was blunted by the advance of time and tech. Craigslist still uses phone verification for certain posts, limiting users to three verification calls a day to eachwhich cannot be triggered more than once every five minutes.
VoIP s are still forbidden to be used for verification calls, which unfortunately impacts some legitimate users with no other phone options. Filed Under: content moderationscamsspam Companies: craigslist.
During the run up to the passage of FOSTA, we were told two key things: 1 the law was absolutely necessary to stop sex trafficking websites like Back, and 2 that there was no way that the law would be abused to go after perfectly innocent websites. It's pretty easy to show that both of these claims turned out to be utter bullshit. The first one was especially easy, seeing as the Feds seized the site and arrested its founders a week before FOSTA became law. The second has taken somewhat longer to show, in part because for a long while no one actually seemed to be making use of FOSTA.
For a law that we were told was absolutely necessary and that any delay in passing it would mean lives put at risk, it has been notable just how few actual lawsuits have been filed under FOSTA in the 18 months or so since it became law. State attorneys general, who pushed strongly for it, claiming they needed this hole in Section to go after bad actor websites have still never used the law.
Not once. She first points to two nearly identical lawsuits filed in state courts one in Washington, one in California against Craigslist and a bunch of hotels.
Craigslist has sought to remove both to federal court as of early December. Both cases push, as Yelderman notes, "radical theories of liability" aimed at Craigslist. They also target activities that happened prior to FOSTA becoming law as you may recall, Craigslist shut down its "erotic services" section all the way back inand then shut down all dating after FOSTA became law, noting that the liability risk was just too much.
That hasn't stopped the company from getting sued under the law, though, with it claiming that just the mere fact that Craigslist had such a section a decade ago proves that it was engaged in sex trafficking under FOSTA.
As Yelderman points out, the fact that FOSTA is apparently retroactive and can reach back to such things, will almost certainly be found unconstitutional. As you may recall, even the DOJ told Congress this part was unconstitutional. Even beyond that aspect, though, the claims in the lawsuit are crazy. They assume that FOSTA removed the requirement for knowledge on the part of intermediaries like Craigslist, even though supporters of the law insisted that wasn't the case. As Yelderman explains:. The other case that Yelderman highlights deserves even more scrutiny.
It was filed against Mailchimp back in November, and I had meant to write it up at the time, but did not get the chance.
It was filed by the same lawyer who has been filing a bunch of similar cases, including the nonsense cases against Salesforcebecause Back used Salesforce. Bragging about abusing the law and the courts for personal gain in a NY Times profile says something about you.
For what it's worth, McAdams' Twitter currently has exactly two tweets it's possible she's deleted otherswith the first one being her getting angry at me for referring to her lawsuits as "nuisance suits.
The crux of the lawsuit is that when a Back clone, called YesBack, tried to startup after Back was seized, the site used Mailchimp for s, and thus that makes it liable under FOSTA. YesBack used Mail Chimp technology to enable efficient and targeted communication between itself and sex traffickers. MailChimp was thereby an active party in the process of soliciting and fulfilling acts of sex trafficking.
MailChimp was the key technology used to unify the various digital components of the sex trafficking transaction, including the use of to increase more advertising, more consumption of thoseand thereby facilitate more sex trafficking. Even if this lawsuit gets tossed out as it shouldthe theory behind it is scary and worrisome.
As Yelderman writes:. MailChimp complaint at What's even more troubling, through, is that they also show just how wrong the district court judge in the Woodhull case was to dismiss that case. The judge dismissed that case insisting that FOSTA included clear language that barred such widespread interpretations:. That's certainly not how the lawyers who filed the lawsuits above see it. At the very least, one hopes that the DC Appeals court recognizes this in deciding the Woodhull appeal. If not, then hopefully one of these or related cases makes its way up to an appeals court and gets FOSTA itself tossed for any of the variety of problems the law has created for speech online.
Filed Under: cdafostaintermediary liabilitysectionsex trafficking Companies: backcraigslistfacebookmailchimpsalesforce. Under the guise of targeting sex traffickers, FOSTA has both done damage to Section protections and sex workers' literal lives. The law has yet to result in any credible, sustained damage to human trafficking, but that hasn't stopped the bill's supporters from trotting out debunked s anytime they need a soundbite.
There will likely be no studies performed by the government to determine FOSTA's actual impact on sex trafficking, but plenty of academics are offering evidence that pushing sex work further underground is endangering the lives of sex workers. This is just the icing on the stupid, life-threatening cake as multiple law enforcement agencies -- including the DOJ itself -- pointed out passing FOSTA would make it more difficult to hunt down traffickers. Craigslist spent a few years being publicly vilified by public officials -- mainly states attorneys general -- Craigslist Alexander City AL sex dumping its erotic services section ERS.
This didn't stop sex work or trafficking, but it did shift the focus away from Craiglist as everyone affected found other services to use.
Online services -- enabled by Section -- helped sex workers stay safe by reducing or eliminating a few of the more dangerous variables. Matching online through the clearinghouse enables both sides of the market to discern the quality of the match ex ante, through such activities as informal screening, circulated black and white lists, and online reviews Cunningham and Kendall, b; Grant, This may provide the ability for sex workers to identify and screen out violent clients, law enforcement, and scammers.
The wholly expected happens when you take these safeguards away by eliminating online services, like Craigslist did in We do not find evidence that this was a more general reduction in homicide, as ERS is unrelated to male murder, females killed by an intimate partner, or manslaughters. This strengthens our assessment that ERS-driven changes in sex markets were the primary driver of the reduction in female murders. The study pulls from a of data sets including the FBI's annual crime reportsbut notes there are still some limitations that prevent this from being an exact determination.
For one, most homicide reports don't note whether the person killed was a sex worker. For another, the data lags because homicide reports date from the time the body was found, rather than the time the person was actually killed. From this underreported and laggy data, some inferences can be drawn, even if it's impossible to say for certain what percentage of female homicides involved sex workers.
If anything, the buggy data may point to an even greater reduction in violence against sex workers via the introduction of online marketplaces. Are these magnitudes plausible? It is difficult to answer this question given that the true incidence of prostitution homicides is unknown.
Most datasets do not record whether a female victim of a homicide was a sex worker, and those that do suffer from severe underascertainment biases built into the data collection methods.
To our knowledge there is only one study that has attempted to estimate the incidence of prostitution homicide as a share of female homicides Brewer et al. The authors concluded that 2. But this study has ificant limitations. It is based on select data only from Chicago, St. ZIP: 35010 35011