Trouble brewing for craigslist?

August 3, 2006

Interesting article in TechCrunch.

Seems the bad guys are figuring out ways to use the popular site to lure victims. This is about a former football player who allegedly meets his victims by connecting on craigslist to sell them electronic equipment. Then he stuns then with a Taser and robs them.

In the process of reading this story I learned a new term: meatspace. Apparently, that means the real world as opposed to the virtual world or blogosphere or myspace world. Oh boy.

Now I agree that this is a potential PR problem for craigslist and other sites like this. But you gotta ask why? I would say it’s a problem for Taser too because both are tools that people use to do dastardly things. But they use screwdrivers and hammers for ugly purposes, too. Cigars too, sometimes. Why should the tools get the blame?

One answer to that is the political game. As politicians have been known to make hay about the bad thing about Tasers, now some can use this to say there has to be come controls on sites like craigslist. Hooey. We have so many laws and regulations to protect us against all kinds of dangers and risks and even the innocent tools used by bad guys get sucked into this. Let’s make sure we separate the bad people who do rotten things from the innocent tools they use to do those things. And, by the way, I think that message needs to be part of craigslist and the industry’s response to what may be a brewing brouhaha over this.

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5 Responses to “Trouble brewing for craigslist?”

  1. Gabe Rodriguez Says:

    As a user of craigslist, I managed to find a simple solution to this problem: meet at your local starbucks. I’ve done many computer / electronic deals compliments of craigslist at a neaby coffee shop. And in the Pacific Northwest there seems to be one on just about every corner. I’d like to see an ex-footballer tase me in front of caffeine hyped baristas.

    I don’t think the problem lies with the service that Craigslist offers. The internet in general has opened many people to harm in a variety of ways. As long as people are using Craigslist.org, I’ll be there to use it’s services for free.

  2. Brian Sibley Says:

    This is similar to the situation with Morpheus back in 2003, in their battle with the RIAA — The Recording Industry claimed that because many users of the software were using it for illegal purposes, that Morpheus was somehow liable. The US District judge found the opposite: Morpheus was no more laibale for a user file-sharing copyrighted music than Xerox would be if you used their copier to photocopy a copyrighted book.

    The question always comes in Marketing: and this is why tobacco companies are liable for the actions of their users. If you markket a hazardous use of a product, and it’s used that way, you should be liable for it.

    I highly doubt if Taser would ever market its product as a robbery-enabler.

  3. Greg Michael Says:

    This sounds like “noise” put out to damage Craigslist.org. Newspapers have the same problem and have had killings, not zappings from “buyers” going to sellers homes, robing, raping and killing by the scores every year. Some circulation delivery drivers have been tracked down doing the same. Do you work for old media?

  4. Brian Sibley Says:

    Yes, but is the newspaper to blame? Or is it the criminal that carries that burden?

  5. Greg Michael Says:

    It’s the criminal to blame, but newspapers are to blame for not doing background checks on their carriers. A large number are hiding from society taking jobs like that. Gabe had a great idea of meeting buyers at a Starbucks.

    Why didn’t newspapers write about that? Helping their own customers?


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