Is This Craigslist’s Idea Of A Legitimate Massage Parlor?

On Wednesday, the classified advertising site Craigslist announced that they are closing their “erotic services” section following widespread criticism that the site is an online marketplace for prostitution.

Craigslist will be replacing “erotic services” with an “adult services” section that is supposedly going to be monitored for inappropriate content. Today, WebNewser uncovered convincing evidence that Craigslist’s standards for what constitutes acceptable advertising are shockingly low.

Earlier this week, we explained how the elimination of “erotic services” won’t do much to stop prostitution on Craigslist since illicit ads thrive on many of the sites other sections. In that story, we highlighted three ads from different sections on Craigslist that were blatant examples of sexual solicitations. After our story ran, two of the postings we cited were flagged for removal but, as of this writing, the third ad we pointed out still remains on the site. We’re confident that Craigslist is aware of our post, so this may give a good indication about the lax monitoring standards the company plans to use in the new “adult services” section of the site.

The two postings that were removed contained specific references to money. Though the third ad doesn’t mention cash, it is clearly a far cry from the type of promotional materials used by legitimate spas. Along with a pornographic photo, the advertisement specifies that the masseuses are “naughty” and have “silky hair” with “seductive eyes to match.” Since the massage parlor in the ad lists its address as Union Turnpike in Queens, we called up the NYPD’s 107th Precinct, which is responsible for policing that area of the borough to see if local law enforcement agreed with our impression that this ad was a blatant example of online prostitution. We read the contents of the posting to Police Aide Bell, who works with the precincts detectives and she told us: “It sounds disgusting, so I would pursue that. This is an example of what needs to be taken off, and screened and, everything else.” We also called up Craigslist to check if they had seen the story and see why this third ad may have been allowed to remain on the site, but the employee we spoke to said “we do not discuss any kind of terms of use issues or flagging issues over the phone.”

In order to confirm beyond any doubt that the massage parlor in the ad offers illegal services, we dialed the number listed with the posting and asked the woman who answered the phone if her establishment provides clients oral sex. She replied by telling us “I do full service and everything.” “Full service” is a common massage parlor euphemism indicating willingness to perform a variety of sex acts beyond erotic body rubs.

Clearly, prostitution on Craigslist will continue if this type of ad meets the site’s new standards. We didn’t have much luck calling Craigslist today, but we’d still love to hear from someone at the site with a full explanation of their procedures monitoring for illicit content. We’ll let you know if they get in touch.