A black box with the word "censored" replaces what used to be the "adult services" heading on Craigslist. Clovis Police Sergeant Matt McFadden was glad to see the section go. "It's been frustrating to see them knowingly advertise erotic services. You can look at these websites and it's very clear this is prostitution, going on and being advertised… You can't look at this and not know what's going on. It's pretty blatant," said McFadden.
Craigslist isn't commenting on the change but it comes after years of criticism. McFadden showed Action News several ads they found in past investigations, listing prices for specific sexual services.
News of the section's removal was also greeted by Jody Ketcheside with the program, Central Valley Against Human Trafficking. She said the online ads took human trafficking victims off of Fresno's streets and put them in front of computers. "For the most part, every victim I've come into contact with has been sold on Craigslist," said Ketcheside.
Ketcheside said pimps force underage girls to place ads on Craigslist and then update them every half hour. Without "adult services," there is concern the ads will just end up somewhere else. "This population is pretty resourceful. These guys are very resourceful and they will find other ways to make it happen. They'll find other ways to make their money and they'll find other ways to abuse these girls," said Ketcheside.
The ads are also a big money maker for Craigslist, reportedly generating a third of the website's profits, at ten dollars a post. Craigslist's refusal to comment on the section's removal is fueling speculation that it's part of a publicity stunt. The change comes just one week after attorney generals in 17 states called for its removal.