Online classified site Craigslist will replace its erotic services ads with a new adult category to bar flagrant prostitution and porn, the Connecticut attorney general's office said on Wednesday.
Craigslist's sex-service listings have faced intense scrutiny following the April 14 murder of 25-year-old masseuse Julissa Brisman, who advertised on Craigslist in Boston. Philip Markoff, a 23-year-old Boston University medical student, was charged with killing Brisman and with attacks on two other women he met through Craigslist.
Officials from Craigslist were not immediately available to comment.
The erotic services section will end within seven days and be replaced with a new section called adult services where every advertisement will be manually reviewed by Craigslist staff, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.
In April, Blumenthal had asked Craigslist officials to eliminate photographs in the erotic services and similar sections of the site, hire staff to screen ads that blatantly violate Craigslist rules and offer incentives for people who flag and report prostitution advertisements.
Craigslist informed him of the changes on Tuesday night, Blumenthal said.
Craigslist, a 14-year-old online bazaar that generates more than 20 billion page views per month in 50 countries with a staff of just 28 people, is partially owned by online auctioneer eBay, which bought 25 percent in 2004.
Along with its free listings for just about anything -- from apartments to furniture, jobs and cars -- San Francisco-based Craigslist.org provides one of the largest and most controversial sex-service listings.
We will be monitoring closely to make sure that this measure is more than a name change from erotic to adult and that the manual blocking is tough and effective to scrub prostitution and pornography, said Blumenthal, who has led a task force with other attorneys general on Craigslist.
Tabloids dubbed Markoff the Craigslist killer.
The murder followed the killing of George Weber, a New York reporter knifed to death after responding to a personal ad he placed on Craigslist in March, and the early-April sentencing of Michael Anderson, a Minnesota man convicted of killing a woman who responded to a babysitting ad.
The Craigslist measures could set a precedent for similar sites, Blumenthal said.
Closing the erotic services section -- a blatant Internet brothel -- should lead to other blocking and screening measures, and set a model for other sites, if Craigslist keeps its word, Blumenthal said.
(Editing by Raymond Colitt)