Craigslist To Drop 'Erotic Services' Ads

Craigslist says it will eliminate its "erotic services" category and screen all submissions to a new "adult services" section before they're posted. The announcement comes a month after the killing of a masseuse who advertised on Craigslist.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And the Internet classified ad site Craigslist is coming under closer scrutiny from U.S. authorities. The authorities want to make sure that the site no longer posts ads for prostitution and pornography. Yesterday, the Web site said it will replace its, quote, erotic services category with a more closely regulated section it's calling adult services. The move comes weeks after a Boston medical student was accused of killing a woman he met through an erotic ad on Craigslist.

NPR's Tovia Smith has more.

TOVIA SMITH: Craigslist is promising to screen adult-services ads to stamp out what Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has called a blatant Internet brothel. But, Blumenthal concedes, it may be hard to distinguish those offering legal services, like massage and escorts, from those offering more.

Ms. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (Attorney General, Connecticut): The world's oldest profession can use the newest technology. But the same questions arise as to what is soliciting for illegal sex.

SMITH: Indeed one woman, Adriana(ph), who posts on Craigslist but didn't want to be identified talking about erotic services, says most people will just rewrite their ads to be a little more subtle.

ADRIANA: A lot of people will put, like, exactly what they're going to do. But now, basically, we'll just have to say, like, you guys want to have a night out with a lovely girl, and you can just be my friend for the night. Stuff like that.

SMITH: There is some fear that will make things more confusing for businesses that don't offer sex, like Derek Romano's(ph) company, 1-800-Showgirl.

Mr. DEREK ROMANO (1-800-Showgirl): I mean, this is going to make the phone ring more with a lot more false calls, like, you know, oh, well, do they provide extras? Just, you know, it's going to be a whole big headache.

SMITH: Romano wants a separate section just for licensed adult businesses so it's clear which ones are clean, and which ones have just cleaned up their ads.

Tovia Smith, NPR News.

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