An Open Letter to Craig Newmark

The following is an open letter to Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.

Dear Mr. Newmark–

As a musician and college student, I have a special relationship with Craigslist. I’ve bought a number of items that I found on your site, and recently put up my first For Sale ad as a Craigslist user. I was very excited about becoming more involved in the Craigslist community.

However, I was heartbroken when I read CNN’s August 3rd article regarding the presence of child sex ads on Craigslist. Moreover, I was sickened to read that Craigslist has done nothing tangible to advocate for the sex slaves—especially those who are children—who are for sale on your site. I was also very troubled to see that historically, your response to situations like these has been both defensive and careless. Don’t you see that to recklessly avoid taking action against such things is to stand in support of them?

Mr. Newmark, I’ve always believed in the power of a community of people. Your website is remarkable because it takes people from so many various social circles and economic backgrounds who would normally never have anything to do with each other, and turns them into a community. It takes fragments and turns them into something whole.

Because of this, Craigslist has a unique opportunity to play a significant role in the fight against sex trafficking and modern-day slavery. Please do the right thing Mr. Newmark, and remove the “Adult Services” section from your website, and take the opportunity not only to draw awareness to the existence of modern-day slavery and the global sex trade, but also to deal a heavy blow to the sex trade in America. It is my great regret to say that as long as you support the buying, selling, and trading of human beings for sex, I cannot enjoy the many benefits of your website with a clear conscience, and will no longer attempt to do so.

I believe that you have a chance to play the role of the hero in the stories of many whose bodies are currently for sale on your site. You have a chance to overcome evil with good. I pray that you’ll not let the chance to do something great pass you by.

Matt Tolander
College Student, Musician, and former Craigslist user
Austin, TX.

EDIT, 9/13/10: Thanks to the combined efforts of numerous groups and individuals, Craigslist has removed their Adult Services section in the United States. Thanks to anyone who fought for this. I will now resume using Craigslist. – mt

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