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Craigslist Lessons For Twitter

Craigslist caved to pressure from blue-nose attorneys general hoping to score political points by standing up to the most defenseless members of our population, and will shutter its erotic services section. Wonderful.
Craigslist caved to pressure from blue-nose attorneys general hoping to score political points by standing up to the most defenseless members of our population, and will shutter its erotic services section. Wonderful.It's hard to blame Craigslist -- a for-profit organization that has become a virtually indispensable public service for people looking for an apartment, a job (the only type of listing for which Craigslist charges a fee), a place to offload an ugly sofa, or friendship, romance or, until now, erotic services.

Craigslist has never shied away from backing unpopular causes -- its defense of net neutrality against powerful and monied interests is one example -- but it would have been hard for it to defend itself in this case. There were too many angles from which to attack it, and too much potential for rabble-rousing that could have put its core business at risk.

And that's a lesson we all need to digest. As much as the Internet is something we can count on -- it was developed, after all, as a way to distribute risk of a communications breakdown -- Facebook, Twitter and many other social networks that have come to define Web 2.0 are very different animals, and can disappear in the blink of an eye.

Dave Winer puts his finger on the dire possibilities for government intervention:


Remember the atmosphere after 9-11. Not so far-fetched. But it was hard to control the web, it was too diverse. Twitter, which is fully centralized, would be easy for a government to control.

This also explains why so many people are captivated by the plethora of Twitter acquisition rumors: Twitter owned by Microsoft would be an entirely different animal than under the control of, say, Google. And of course, if the threat of government action can cause Craigslist to back down, there's no reason the same thing can't happen to Twitter -- or any other social network -- making them useless or simply unrecognizable as the service we'd grown to know, love and count upon.

The lesson: don't put all your avatars in one basket.

And always be ready to grieve, not just for the loss of your favorite site, but for all the friendships you've built and your ability to reach out to them.

Is there way to export your Facebook friends to Google, I wonder?