Craigslist says it won’t resume adult services advertising

Craigslist has no plans to bring back the controversial adult services category that was on its classified advertising website, a company official told Congress on Wednesday.

Craigslist placed a block on the section earlier this month after law enforcement officials and human rights groups accused it of not properly monitoring the category and removing ads for prostitution and child trafficking.

William Clinton Powell, director of customer service and law enforcement relations for Craigslist, made the statement during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on minors caught up in sex trafficking.

Adult advertisements posted on Craigslist received three times more responses than those on any other online service, Deborah Richardson, chief program officer for the Women’s Funding Network, said before the committee.

In the last six months, there has been a steep increase in the number of U.S. adolescent girls advertised for commercial sex on the Internet, Richardson said. Linda Smith, a former congresswoman who now heads the nonprofit Shared Hope group that provides rehabilitation for women and children involved in sex trafficking, said, “I have not had a girl that wasn’t marketed online, and most of them were on Craigslist.”

At least 100,000 children in the United States are involved in commercial sex every year and the average age at which girls enter prostitution is 13, Smith said.

Connecticut Atty. Gen. Richard Blumenthal, who led an effort to persuade Craigslist to drop the section, said Wednesday he was pleased by the announcement it would not be resumed, but asked the company for “more effective and aggressive screening to fight prostitution ads, including swift removal of suspect ads flagged by the public.”

Ernie Allen, chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said removing the category was a “positive and productive” step. But he said more must be done.

“The goal is to destroy the business model for those who sell children for sex on the Internet,” Allen said.