Casual Encounters on Craigslist

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Craigslist is in the news again about their Casual Encounters section of the classifieds website. The last story in March was about a Chicago Sheriff who sued Craigslist for being one of the largest source of prostitution on the internet (see Story).

The New York Times takes a look at Craigslist, specifically the Casual Encounters section.

Like bathhouses and sex clubs, the Casual Encounters section caters to the erotic underbelly of society, where courtship gives way to expediency and anonymity is a virtue (or at least a turn-on). The section was introduced in late 2000 and is available in all cities served by Craigslist, for users gay and straight, male and female. The ads range from prim to raunchy; a good number of people include photographs of precisely what they have to offer.

According to a Craigslist spokesperson, their encounters section generates over 2 percent of all postings. Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist told the New York Times that the Casual Encounters section is designed for people who wanted a "wide range of personal meeting and relationship options". One of the first things mention in the article are the 3 recent murders which involves people meeting through Craigslist classified ads. I don't think the author wants to paint a pretty picture of the site. Through several interviews the author paints a sobering picture in which the Casual Encounters section in its beginning years (the section was started in 2000) was a safe place to meet people but now it has been overrun with spammers and prostitutes. People who religiously use the site say there are still lots of genuine encounters to be found.

For the full article, including a number of quotes from people who use Craigslist for meeting people for sex, read the New York Times.