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5/18/2009
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Craigslist CEO Demands Apology From S.C. Attorney General

The reaction comes after criticism of the online classified ad site, including accusations that the site has engaged in criminal acts.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster has demanded an apology from South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster.

Buckmaster published an open letter to McMaster on Monday in response to recent criticism of the online classifieds ad site, including accusations that the site has engaged in criminal acts.

"These very serious allegations followed the dramatic changes we implemented last week, widely applauded by other attorneys general, that go far beyond the policies and procedures you yourself personally endorsed just six months ago, as indicated by your signature," Buckmaster wrote.

Craigslist recently promised to shutter its erotic services section and is in the process of doing so. Previously posted ads expire this week. The Web site agreed to the changes after pressure from attorneys general in several states. Pressure mounted after a man responding to one such ad was accused of killing 26-year-old New Yorker Julissa Brisman in a Boston hotel.

Buckmaster said the measures have been so effective that just 40 ads among 334,180 of the ads for South Carolina feature adult services and those comply with the site's terms of use.

"The rest comprise a thriving marketplace for South Carolinians, offering jobs, housing, for-sale items, local services, and just about everything else," he wrote.

Buckmaster said that many large and respected companies, including AT&T, Microsoft, Village Voice Media, and other upstanding South Carolina businesses feature more adult services ads than Craigslist and some are "of a very graphic nature."

Buckmaster provided more than 10 links to ads for escorts and other services elsewhere, including YellowPages.com.

"What's a crime for Craigslist is clearly a crime for any company," he said. "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?"

Buckmaster went on to say that if McMaster prosecuted all CEOs of companies allowing such ads, then he would have to prosecute publishers who may endorse his campaigns, as well as phone companies and Internet service providers that bring jobs to South Carolina.

"If you are threatening our founder Craig Newmark, a board member with no operational role at Craigslist other than as a customer service representative, then you are expanding your list of 'criminal suspects' to include thousands of employees at the above-named companies, or the companies' boards of directors, or both," he said.

Finally, Buckmaster requested an apology, a retraction, and a clear statement that McMaster does not plan to launch criminal investigations of companies that host such ads.

"We're willing to accept our share of criticism, but wrongfully accusing Craigslist of criminal misconduct is simply beyond the pale," he said. "We would very much appreciate an apology at your very earliest convenience. As I'm sure would all of the other fine companies whose executives you've called out as criminals."


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