Craiglist vs. South Carolina: The Prostitution Ad Showdown

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group, sided with Craigslist. The group said the company could not be held legally responsible for third-party content on the site, asserting that Craigslist had already "gone far beyond [its] obligations under the law."

May 13, 2009: Craigslist Caves

One week later, despite his previous statements to the contrary, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster announced he would close the site's "erotic services" section and replace it with a more closely monitored alternative.

May 15, 2009: South Carolina Stays Unsatisfied

Following the "erotic services" announcement, South Carolina's top cop posted a note saying the "advertisements for prostitution and graphic pornographic material" were still visible on Craigslist. "We have no alternative but to move forward with criminal investigation and potential prosecution," he wrote.

May 18, 2009: Craigslist Demands an Apology

Days after that, Craigslist's Buckmaster posted a blog entry back demanding an apology from the attorney general. "I strongly recommend you reconsider and retract your remarks and positively affirm that you have no intention of launching criminal investigations aimed at any of these upstanding companies, because in truth none of them are deserving of such treatment," he wrote.

May 20, 2009: Craigslist Sues South Carolina

Seemingly still not satisfied, Craigslist went on to file a lawsuit against South Carolina two days later. The company asked for a restraining order and declaratory relief. "Mr. McMaster’s repeated threats of criminal prosecution should we refuse to shut down Craigslist for South Carolina have left us little choice but to seek declaratory relief before the court," the Craigslist blog explained.

May 20, 2009: South Carolina Says 'Thanks'

Within the day, South Carolina's attorney general declared the lawsuit "good news," saying it "show[ed] Craigslist [was] taking the matter seriously for the first time." He called the move a "victory for law enforcement and for the people of South Carolina" and said he hoped Craigslist would "adhere to the higher standards [it had] promised."

Craigslist: What's Next?

That, my friends, is the long and short of what's happened so far -- okay, maybe more the long than the short. The battle of the blogs, no doubt, is still far from over: Amid all of this, seven people were formally charged on Thursday with using Craigslist to operate a prostitution ring. Despite the back-and-forth blows and seemingly endless rounds of rhetoric, the war, it appears, may only be beginning.

Connect with JR Raphael on Twitter (@jr_raphael) or via his Web site, jrstart.com.

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