Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Craigslist Censorship?

The latest "censorship" flap concerns Craigslist's adult services category. Recently, apparently in response to some state attorneys general who were concerned that the service was promoting prostitution and child abuse, Craigslist took down its adult services section, slapping a Censored label where it used to be.
 Craigslist executives refuse to discuss this situation but lots of other people are:
The Wall Street Journal
The Huffington Post
The New York Times
The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Many of the reporters and commentators seem to be focused on why Craigslist has taken this action and whether it will continue, but no one seems to be questioning the use of the term "censorship" to describe Craigslist. Just because their management chose to put the word "Censored" above, does that necessarily make it so? Is this really censorship? What does that word mean, anyway? I have written two books arguing that the word is overused and has come to be almost meaningless.

So, is this censorship or is it state legal authorities trying to influence a private business (which could be called many things, not necessarily censorship)?

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