Craigslist may be the leader in online classified ads but lately, the popular site has seen a run of negative publicity for its red-light district - accused of being a breeding ground for under-age prostitution, drug trading and, now, a murder.
Over the weekend, the New York Times published an in-depth story about the dark alleys of the online world where people recklessly seek sex and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a news account about how child prostitution continues to flourish on craigslist, despite law enforcement efforts to curtail it. Yesterday, police in Boston arrested a 22-year-old medical student in the murder of a woman he allegedly met in the erotic services section of craigslist, earning him the nickname "The Craigslist Killer."
Greg Collier, the owner and operator of a competing classified ads site called Geebo, says enough is enough and that it's time for Craig Newmark, the "Craig" of craigslist, to take down the entire red-light section. No, he's not calling him on the phone or sending him e-mails to ask for the take-down.
Instead, Collier is calling out Newmark, pointing to the news stories and calling for action in the form of Twitter tweets. (see image) He's engaging in Twitter discussions with people who are replying to Newmark's own tweets and he's sending alerts to folks like CNN's Rick Sanchez (and me) to help spread the word about the dangers of craigslist. Interestingly enough, he's not pushing his own site as he does this.
Anyone else might take this opportunity to promote their own site as being safer, more reputable, more controlled, perhaps. But none of Collier's tweets make any mention of his site - geebo.com. He insists that he's not doing this to promote his own site, nor is he being obsessive about craig-bashing. But there's bad stuff happening on the site - from prostitution to housing scams - and that needs to stop, he said. When the news stories appear - and that seems to be happening more frequently now - he feels the need to point them out.
"What if it was your daughter who was murdered? Or your niece or sister," he said in an interview. "It just keeps happening. And it's going to keep happening. It's not going to end until craigslist finally waves that white flag."