Craigslist CEO: I'm No Criminal

By MEG KINNARD
|  Monday, May 18, 2009  |  Updated 4:00 PM CDT
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Craigslist CEO: I'm No Criminal

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Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark (L) and Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, at their San Francisco office.

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Craigslist's chief executive demanded an apology from South Carolina's attorney general Monday, saying the prosecutor's threat to file prostitution charges against the company was unreasonable and unfair.

Jim Buckmaster said in a blog post that he has been unfairly signaled out as a criminal in the wake of killings linked to users of his site's "erotic services" classified listings.  

"We’re willing to accept our share of criticism, but wrongfully accusing craigslist of criminal misconduct is simply beyond the pale," Buckmaster wrote. "We would very much appreciate an apology at your very earliest convenience."

Attorney General Henry McMaster threatened last week to prosecute Craigslist executives for aiding and abetting prostitution if an ad on the Web site leads to a prostitution case in South Carolina. The prosecutor has said his office is investigating the ads, but so far no charges have been brought.

The San Francisco-based Craigslist has come under closer scrutiny for its "erotic services" category after a Boston-area man was accused of killing a masseuse he met through the Web site. Police have also accused the suspect, Philip Markoff, 22, in the armed robbery of another woman who advertised erotic services on Craigslist. Markoff has pleaded not guilty.

In a separate incident, a prominent New York radio DJ was also killed after soliciting rough sex through the site.

The company has promised to eliminate "erotic services" and replace it with a new "adult services" section, where ads will be screened before they are posted.

"Many prominent companies, including AT&T, Microsoft, and Village Voice Media, not to mention major newspapers and other upstanding South Carolina businesses feature more 'adult services' ads than does craigslist, some of a very graphic nature," Buckmaster wrote.

He also included Internet links to listings for escort services throughout South Carolina from other sources to  make his case that Craigslist was being signaled out.

"Are you really prepared to condemn the executives of each of the mainstream companies linked above, and all the others that feature such ads, as criminals?"

McMaster, a Republican who plans to run for governor of South Carolina in 2010, declined to comment on Buckmaster's blog. His campaign also was a topic in Buckmaster's posting.

"Craigslist may not matter in your world view, despite our popularity among your constituents, but mightn't you want an endorsement from any of the SC newspapers for your gubernatorial campaign, whose publishers you've just labeled as criminals?" Buckmaster wrote.

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