wild child wisdom

"You've had too many mountains moved in your life.

You've never had to make mountains move shovel full by shovel full.

You have just always pushed...and they have moved.

You need to look at things in terms of the real world...not in the terms of how our lives have been"

Friday, May 21, 2010

So…there was this boycott of Craigslist….

Did you participate in the boycott?
Did you even know about it?

There is a lot going on in the United States with the effort to abolish human trafficking and child prostitution right now.  One of the key issues continues to be the use of Craigslist for nefarious purposes by those who make a profit in forcing women and young children to have sex with strangers.

Last month’s article in the NY Times and subsequent report on The Today Show  sparked the boycott. An effort to convince Craigslist to tighten their scanning of adult services ads…and if they couldn’t do that….to discontinue all of the Craigslist Personal Ads. 

The move to boycott included a few high profile voices as back up,  including
Troy and Sara Groves, as well as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.  

Personally,  I don’t think a boycott is going to make any difference whatsoever with the actual Craig (Newmark) of Craigslist, or his CEO and designated responder, Jim Buckmaster. 

Mr. Newmark (Craig) has referred all  inquires and entreaties to Mr. Buckmaster.  Mr. Buckmaster has lashed back at the boycotters, not always accurately. 

Mr. Buckmaster does have a legitimate gripe that the Connecticut Attorney General tried to use Craigslist as a target in his bid for a senate seat.  AG ​Richard Blumenthal has been anti-Craigslist for a while, with a slimy sort of campaign gibberish.  Blumenthal is the same AG who has recently been out-ed for lying about being a Vietnam Vet.  More slime.  Pretty much his credibility is zero. 

However, Mr. Buckmaster is completely off base in his efforts to deflect the real issue by implying that the Boycott Craigslist posse is a moralistic group of fanatics who are campaigning to eliminate sex out of wedlock.    He objected to what he called the “cynical misuse of a cause as important as human trafficking as a pretense for imposing one’s own flavor of religious morality” as if all the people objecting to the sale of children’s bodies were also claiming “casual sex is evil.”  Not true Mr. Buckmaster.  Perhaps you were trying to paint the boycotters with the right wing tea party brush to garner support?   Fail.

Huffington Post ran Rachel Lloyd’s open letter to Jim Buckmeister objecting to his mischaracterization.   Miz Lloyd is the founder of GEMS, an organization dedicated to helping sexually exploited girls from the age of 12 to 21 escape from the sex trade and empowering their full potential in a new life.  She had communicated with the Craigslist high command some eighteen months ago, resulting in significant changes in Craigslist service procedures.

Buckmaster came back with an open invitation to Miz Lloyd.   He detailed the changes that have been made.  He listed the attributes of the service Craigslist does indeed offer.  He asked her to come meet with him. 

I would guess Miz Lloyd will take him up on his offer.  Demi and Ashton tweeted they would meet with Mr. Buckmaster at their anti-trafficking tech conference at the end of April at Google HQ.   To date, no word on what was discussed.  But I did notice that the DNA Foundation doesn’t seem to be supporting the Boycott of Craigslist.

Now I’m rambling.
Let’s get to a few quick points on Boycotting Craigslist.

The intent of a boycott is to impact the company’s bottom line. 
A boycott is about bringing financial pressure to bear. 
(I’m unconvinced a boycott will ever pressure Craigslist financially.) 
A boycott threatens advertisers and worries investors.
( Craigslist doesn’t have any of those. They are proud of that fact.  Gleeful even.)

Every single article, interview, and industry insider comes to the conclusion that those in charge at Craigslist really aren’t in it to make astronomical fortunes.  So tell me how a boycott does any good?

It’s not like the people who are boycotting are big users of the paid personal services ads.  Most of them hadn’t even read the ads in those sections until now. If they boycott Craigslist, it won’t even be a minuscule blip on Craig and Jim’s radar.

I did a quick scan of Twitter.  Only about half a dozen tweets in the past week include the #boycottcraigslist tag.  A quick search of articles and blogs in the past week returns only a few dozen mentions of the boycott…including some opposing it.

I think the boycott idea, while well intentioned, has pretty much fizzled out.

But the fact remains an alarming number of people are being sold.
What can we do?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Heavy Lifting

In response to the NY Times article, a few webloggers and tweeters have started a small campaign to boycott Craigslist.  It is an understandable reaction to the outrage many people felt when they learned how traffickers are using Craigslist.  But I think rather than hurl insults and boycotting the site, we could start with a reasonable dialog as if we are friends.

At the bottom of this post you’ll find a link to an interview that Charlie Rose did with Craig Newmark.  Pretty much a love fest, you can tell right away that these two men have formed a mutual admiration society.

But the interview gives some very important insights into the actual Craig of Craigslist and what makes him tick.  Those of you who endeavor to convince him to make changes to the Craigslist Adult Services, might want to take notes.

The interview is a few years old, and there is chitchat about how Craigslist impacts media and fights spam.  You’ll hear plenty of insight into Craig’s passion for accountable politicians, journalistic fact checking, and public diplomacy.

Truly…It’s all good.

In fact, it is so cool, that one may almost overlook Craig’s pride in his luxury of a total lack of concern over “this profit margin thing”.

And that is where I want you all to pay attention. 
Craig doesn’t pay attention to how much money the company is making.

He is proud…if not gleeful to remind us that Craigslist does not owe anything or answer to investors or venture capitalists or advertisers.

In Craig’s own words:
”We get to dictate what we do based on our own values”

Which begs the question,
“Craig, what are your core values?”

And this is what he says:
“Treating people like we want to be treated.  That is our core value set. 
We listen, we get suggestions from people.  We try to act on them. 
And then we listen some more.”

At the end of the interview, Charlie Rose asks,
“What’s the most important way that you believe you’re making a difference?”

To which Craig responds:
“Hard to say. Maybe the company is in some sense just a good example of giving people a break. And again, treating people the way you want to be treated.”

So here I am, again.  Asking you Craig.
How does the role Craigslist plays to help and enable the trafficking of women and children sit with you?   How does it mesh with your core values?  

Can you just allow something that bears your name to be cited as “the biggest online hub for selling women against their will” ? 

And Craig, even If you are as you claim, not smart enough or energetic enough,  you still recognize that tendency you have to save the world.  Maybe we could channel that effort toward eradicating human trafficking on Craigslist? 

You say you want to help the people who are doing the heavy lifting.

Fighting the sale of children for sexual exploitation is about as heavy as it gets.

We need your help with the lifting on this one.

Charlie Rose: A conversation with Craigslist.com founder, Craig Newmark
19 July 2007