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Craigslist: Why is it OK?

Why is it OK that a “not for profit” company with virtually no safety guidelines continues to provide services where people are killed, raped or ripped off on a regular basis? Yet nobody questions this. Why is it OK that people working to provide a respected service are out of work because of this very suspect, free and dangerous service? Is it because it’s free? We need to realize this is not free; there are large costs. Ask the family of Bo!

Now before you go crying “spilt milk or sour grapes” think about what was just asked. Here are some comments on our own website about Craigslist…”Don’t blame Craigslist,” and I ask what’s not to blame? They provide the services where people are hurt or killed and family or friendships are destroyed. “The newspapers, ALL of them HATE Craigslist,” and I wonder why people other than newspaper people don’t ask why this is not a problem? “I suspect that the newspapers are losing a HUGE chunk of change to the FREE Craigslist ads!” No we’re not anymore, we lost those revenues a long time ago and the people paid to provide a safe classified service — those people are gone too.

Now days, online advertising for boats, bicycles, cars, jobs and a host of want ads has one primary source — Craigslist. The perception is it’s free, beware of what you wish. The online classified advertising resource has become a prime venue for psychos, child molesters, burglars and other persons wanting to commit crimes against unsuspecting individuals and families.

St. Paul police say a young homicide victim had answered an ad for a cell phone on Craigslist and was fatally shot by the purported seller.

Family members say 19-year-old Aung Thu Bo and his girlfriend met the seller in a public place last Friday afternoon to buy a smartphone. The man asked them to drive him to his house to get the phone. Bo’s mother, Than Than Aye Bo, says they drove about a block, the man demanded Bo’s wallet and shot him in the head. His girlfriend was unharmed.

The first use of the term Craigslist killings may date to Oct. 31, 2007, when the phrase appeared in a headline in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, in referencing the murder of Katherine Olson by Michael John Anderson, who was then dubbed “the Craigslist killer.”

Not every ad on Craigslist is placed there by a psychopathic monster. Not every ad is a lure to unsuspecting innocents. But do an online search and you will find a frightening amount of cases. There may not be a cost to you until someone in your family or a friend becomes a statistic.

The risk taken by people around the state and the nation is heightened when the ad placer is unknown to the respondent of the classified ad. For decades upon decades, newspaper classified advertisements have been offered at a reasonable rate. Persons placing the ad are generally known within the community in which the newspaper distributes its ads, which ensures a level of security not offered by the online option. The Brainerd Dispatch has been publishing classified ads for area residents since 1881. To my knowledge no one has been victimized by an ad published in the Dispatch.

So why does this last online commenter write, “Craigslist is doing for FREE, what the newspapers were charging BIG BUCKS for!?!” Does he really think the newspapers are bad and are ripping people off when as history proves we were actually protecting our readers? Anyway, we aren’t charging much anymore.

But let’s be realistic, Craigslist is not free. We are all paying the cost for the tragedies that an unsupervised, free Craigslist provides. Start adding it up with the personal loss to family and friends; in some cases there’s medical or psychological costs. In all the cases there is additional burden on our police departments and court systems. The list goes on. Oh, did I forget to mention loss of spending power and the unemployment costs of the employees that once earned an honest wage working at a newspaper?

We are surviving quite well despite of Craigslist, but I’ll ask the question again, why is this OK?