Parents: Do you know what's on Craigslist? - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Parents: Do you know what's on Craigslist?

JONESBORO, (KAIT) - It's a subject that parents need to know about, but do not want their children to see!  It involves the popular web site, Craigslist.com. 

Just last year, Arkansas' Attorney General joined 16 others in asking Craigslist to take down its adult services section.  This came after a medical student was accused of killing a masseuse he met on-line.  So six months later, has Craigslist cleaned up it's act?

We logged on to find out and it only took four clicks of the mouse. That's all that separates you and your children from pornographic pictures seemingly posted by people in your town.   

There nestled between ads for real estate, medical jobs and antiques are personal ads that are very personal. 

"Under the personals, there are several different areas: strictly platonic, women seeking women, women seeking men," Det. Ernest Ward from the Jonesboro Police Department and Internet Crimes Against Children Unit.  "Men seeking women and men seeking men. Miscellaneous. Romance. Casual encounters."

Click on casual encounters, and you enter a very adult section.  It comes with a warning for anyone under 18.  But, the lurid language, graphic photos--some featuring two people in sexual acts--and the postings all claim to be local.

"Would you want a child seeing this or reading this" asked Det. Ward.  "No!"

Det. Ward says Craigslist has cleaned up since the adult services section was removed last year.  Prostitution of women and children is no longer allowed.  But apparently looking for willing partners for sex is.

"It's the same thing that happens at nightclubs," explained Det. Ward.  "Places that people go everyday. This is just a place they go on-line in a virtual world. It's real. But, it's not a physical place."

But, would you expose yourself in a bar like these people have on-line?

"Yes.  It's porn.  It certainly is," said Det. Ward.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was part of the attorneys general that got Craigslist to remove the adult services section a year ago.

"And we are continuing to work through that multi-state organization with Craigslist to say, 'Hey, the people are continuing to adapt.' They are continuing to put adult services onto Craigslist in a different way.  And it's really up to you to regulate it in some way," said McDaniel.

But the Attorney General says the fight is on-going.

"Craig's List frankly disagrees," said McDaniel.  "They don't think it's their responsibility to regulate it at all. They think it's free speech and so long as they are not promoting prostitution services, they're simply providing a forum."

But, is this against the law when they post these pictures of themselves?

"We have specific obscenity laws and the Prosecuting Attorney would have to look at whether any of those are being violated," explained McDaniel.

Tracking down the violators might be even harder since someone can post claiming they're in one city and actually be somewhere else.

"Are they one person that has multiple ads regenerated in different language and that person is in Memphis and they're posting in Jonesboro and Cordova and Holly Springs, Mississippi?" said McDaniel.

"I would say millions of messages are posted each day," said Det. Ward.  "And, if they were going to hire people to look at those. The number would have to be vast."

Craigslist has too many postings to monitor.  It's a virtual world left unchecked, and leaves sex to be openly sought, pornographers a place to hang out, and parents one more reason to watch where your kids go on the internet.

Fortunately many children have parents who watch their on-line activity.  However, others do not.  That's why we wanted to alert parents of the dangers of this website.  Unfortunately there are other sites like this one out there.  If you have a filter on your computer, set it to restrict access. 

We also contacted Craigslist for comment and to see if they have plans of removing the casual encounters section.  But, the operators did not respond.  

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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