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Beware of Craigslist

Updated on December 27, 2014

It is certainly unfortunate a few bad apples have spoiled the name of a such a wonderful site and idea.

More than a few scams take place using ads on the site
More than a few scams take place using ads on the site | Source

This site is famous not only in the US, but around the world

Lots of sites around the web have the chance of going viral. There are not many which actually meet this expectation. Craigslist is one which actually did a remarkable growth spurt which put them on the world map in a short amount of time. It went from covering a couple of cities in the Bay Area to including most of the world in a little over 12 months. Large and small communities alike benefit from this advertising medium.

A short description is a centralized network of online communities includes classified advertisements with various categories.Sections include housing, employment,personals, services,items for sale and merchandise individuals are searching for to name a few of the larger ones. There are also smaller or unique categories depending on the community. Although listings are free the main source of income for the company comes from advertisers for products and services.

How well the business is actually doing in exact dollars and cents is not something they choose to share publicly. The company does not divulge detailed ownership or financial income data. However, be sure what began as a hobby has become a full time job. Commenters and other analysts have reported the income for Craigslist was approximately $10 million in 2004 and nearly $150 million by 2007. Doubling the $150 million since 2007 is not inconceivable for this entity. Although there has been exceptional success, there has also been a downside to the company many users must be made aware of.

In the beginning

The site itself is very simple in its design and has changed very little since its humble beginnings. They dodge utilizing images and only minimum amounts of JavaScript and other complicated coding content. This is very unusual for other sites with the capability of surfing on the web today. Though, this possibly accounts for its ease of use and attractiveness for all members of society. It is available in several languages which include French, English, Italian, Portuguese, German and Spanish. As users in other languages increase, this will expand.

The bad side of the site


Several state Attorneys General created a controversy when they implied the site promoted prostitution through an erotic or adult services personal section. In May of 2009, owners tried to correct these issues with any complaining state by renaming the erotic section of classifieds. They changed the name to adult services and charged $10 per ad. The adult services and $10 charge was not for prostitution ads. Some ads were valid under freedom of speech.

The site also invested resources to closely review all of the postings in an attempt to identify illegal actions. It labeled the link to this segment of ads as censored and required verification anyone using the section for viewing or posting was at least 18 years . Public backlash and censorship continued as the same issues slipped through the cracks after these fixes were put in place.

Activities continued

This site was closed for all categories in September 2010 for the U.S and in December 2010 for Canadian residents as well as the activities were said to be continuing. Closings took place because illegal activities were not curbed to the satisfaction of Attorney Generals for America and Canada.

Users committing these illegal issues got around the sanctions and censorship the owners put in place by moving these types of ads to the talent section on the site. This was not monitored for this type of activity. They continued to run and the headaches did not cease for the owners.


Craigslist has also been criticized by several professional organizations for discrimination actions on the platform. Items were posted which included housing discrimination, hiring contract killers, fraud, identity theft and even worse. All of these were put in place under the pretense of valid content as described by the terms and conditions of the site. Along with these illegals types of activities, there have also been bizarre classified ads. The material published lured victims to criminals.

There was a case where a couple posted material offering an invite for anyone to a man’s house and take any belongings they wanted. People did respond to the ad and it was later found to be posted by a couple with a desire to cover their own burglary of the man’s home.

Making things better

The site owners, has made other attempts to respond to the public and politicians cry for more censorship. Creators have built a flagging system used to identify any kind of inappropriate and illegal postings.Readers are able to point out misuse of the site to editors for investigation. Even non members are capable of having editors take a second look at any suspicious activity. Anyone is able to point fingers for possible spamming, misplaced or prohibited material according to Craigslist posting guidelines.

Flagging is not a great system

The system has more than a few drawbacks. The biggest disadvantage according to proponents is lack of any real moderation. There are no posted guidelines for what is left up and what is taken down. There is no written standard for what criteria is being used for removal.

One of the biggest gripes from users is how many flags does one ad receive before automatic removal. Some have more than 20 or 30 and are still on the site as a valid piece of material. The flagging system is not foolproof and sometimes causes issues since many competitors are capable of maliciously flagging a competitor’s ad without warrant or cause.


Craigslist has been condemned by many communities as the reason for removing or killing local newspapers. Comparisons are made to local merchants versus large stores like “Wal-Mart” crushing local businesses. An editorial in a San Francisco paper, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, in 2006 really hit this issue home and stirred up tons of discussion around the issue.

In conclusion

It has exploded in the online community and provides tons of wonderful services for the most part. Unfortunately, there have been negative actions tied to the community of advertisements despite all of the actions taken by the owners. Little success has been seen in response to any actions to address all illegal goings-on as well surrounding their material.

If person choosing to use the community for posting ads or responding to advertisements needs to use caution and beware of the criminal element present. Although, there are more than a few honest and reliable people using the site.

The history of the site has been splattered with numerous unlawful, dishonest, criminal and illicit behaviors of people using the community to do bad deeds. Services or actions put in place to stop these have not been enough. This needs to continue to be addressed as long as the site is up and running.

There are some incidents of criminal activitity tied to the site as listed by Wikipedia at this url

Craigslist has become somewhat infamous for certain sections of the personal classifieds or arranging dating services via ads. This was transparent by several high profile court cases where defendants in criminal cases claimed using the site for meeting people to commit crimes against, These ranged from fraud to more serious crimes.

How to Use Craigslist

© 2011 smcopywrite


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    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 6 years ago from Virginia

      I agree with man without pants, there are some creeps on CL, but it's very useful for classifieds. You just have to use common sense. Great Hub, very well written.

    • SlyMJ profile image

      SlyMJ 6 years ago

      I'd heard of craigslist but not paid a lot of attention. Now I discover it is really a fascinating service, if one to be treated with caution. Thanks for such an informative and interesting article.

    • smcopywrite profile image

      smcopywrite 6 years ago from all over the web

      thanks jim. i appreciate it. i really enjoy craigslist and think it offers wonderful services. however, i believe everyone should have their eyes open and always be aware.

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 6 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Super informative. You really did your homework here. A thing like Craig's List provides a service, but really opens the door for a lot of creepy stuff.

      Good job. Voted ya up, useful, and interesting!