Known for its free ads and its community-first ideals, Craigslist announced an agreement today with 40 states to charge $10 for each ad, but will donate the proceeds to charity.
Craigslist until now had only charged for employment ads in some cities and real estate listings in New York, much to the chagrin of newspapers that once relied on classified advertising for revenue. Listings will also require a valid credit card and telephone number.
The information will then be available for subpoena by law enforcement officials investigating illegal activity such as prostitution, human trafficking or child exploitation.
The new measures were outlined in a deal announced today in a statement by Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"Requiring phone numbers, credit cards and identifying details will provide a road map to prostitutes and sex traffickers -- so we can track them down and lock them up," Mr. Blumenthal said in the statement. "Prostitutes will hopefully stop using Craigslist to break the law, knowing that their posts could lead to arrest and conviction."
Craigslist also agreed to sue 14 firms that circumvent the company's own technical defenses against misuse.
"The incidence of crime on Craigslist is actually exceedingly low, considering the tens of millions of legitimate ads posted each month by well-intentioned users," Mr. Buckmaster said. "But no amount of criminal activity is acceptable, and as Craigslist has grown, we have become aware of instances where our free services were being misused to facilitate illegal activities."
Craigslist supports itself by charging $25 for employment ads in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Boston, Portland, Ore., Sacramento, Seattle and San Diego, and $75 in San Francisco, as well as $10 for brokered apartment listings in New York.
Earlier this year it started requiring a working telephone number for listings in "erotic services," a move that cut the number of listings by 80%. According to Craigslist, its service is used by 40 million Americans each month.