Apr 23, 2009

Is Craigslist Responsible? [LINK]

Another letter to the Globe:

Editorializing on the murder of Julissa Brisman, the Globe concludes that unless Web firms such as Craigslist "take more responsibility for how their sites are used," Americans may "need to get used to a lot more risk in the spaces where they gather." This is both vague and incorrect in this instance. Craigslist does nothing to increase the risk a young woman offering herself as a prostitute already faces when going into a hotel room with a total stranger. There is no risk whatsoever of bodily harm to other Americans. If the phrase "spaces where they gather" encompasses online virtual spaces, the only risk is seeing such a classified posting, akin to seeing a print ad for "escort services."
Is it worth pointing out that web sites like Criagslist are the primary reason the Boston Globe is failing as a business?
UPDATE: It made it, along with two editorial changes.

First, they changed "prostitute" to "provider of erotic services," leading to a far more awkward sentence. The original editorial features the word "prostitution", even if not calling any one person a "prostitute." While the change could be a routine PC filter, it's possible the Globe was trying to be sensitive to the possibility that Brisman may not have been engaging in prostitution, in the strict legal sense of a direct exchange of sex for money.

Second, they removed the phrase in this instance, which significantly alters my meaning. That is, I consider it a truism that when compared with other crimes aided by traditional communication technologies, the Web increases the overall risk of such violent encounters due to increased opportunities for interaction.

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