UPDATE: According to one media report, the migration to other online ad services in Canada has already begun. The Toronto Sun reports the owner of ottawatnight.com has already seen "a 28% hike in traffic since Craigslist dumped sex-for-sale ads." Meanwhile, the Canadian Press (and the Ontario government) seems to be unaware the decision by Craigslist was international in scope.
Craigslist pulled the "Adult Services" section from all its international sites this weekend, including in Canada, Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.
The action comes just over three months after the popular online classifieds service pulled the section from its US site in response to a campaign led by US politicians who alleged the section contributed to human trafficking and child prostitution.
(Photo: CC, InfoMofo)
"Later at the request of numerous U.S. states attorneys general, Craigslist began requiring a $10 fee paid by credit card and a working phone number to place an ad in that section. It also hired a lawyer to vet every ad for illegality and suggestions of underage girls. Craigslist was then attacked for being greedy and for profiting off of prostitution, an odd charge for a company that’s constantly criticized by business analysts for not charging for more services (the company charges only for job and housing listings in select markets)."
Before its capitulation in the US, Craigslist argued that closing the section would merely result in the migration of the ads onto other sites. An October report from classified ads consultancy AIM Group revealed an increase in traffic on adult-services sites backpage.com and eros.com.
In Canada, the move comes after federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and a number of provincial politicians, including Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley, wrote public letters to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, requesting he follow the US lead and remove the section from the Canadian site.
As the removal of the section on its Canadian site coincides with its withdrawal from Craigslist worldwide, including 86 countries such as Japan, Russia, Germany and Mexico, it seems unlikely Canadian politicians will be able to chalk it up to their lobbying efforts.
Xtra contacted Craigslist's founder Craig Newmark and received a response from him a few weeks ago related to the Canadian and Ontario government requests to pull the ads. But we have yet to hear from Newmark following this weekend's events.
This is a developing story.