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.
Unsurprisingly, 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?