South Carolina will criminally investigate Craigslist (updated)

Proving that he's as good as his word, all-but-declared governor candidate, S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, announced today that they will move forward with a criminal investigation and potential prosecution.

Read more stories on this subject in our Craigslist topic page.In a press release, McMaster's office said: “As of 5:00 p.m. this afternoon, the craigslist South Carolina site continues to display advertisements for prostitution and graphic pornographic material. This content was not removed as we requested. We have no alternative but to move forward with criminal investigation and potential prosecution.”

To which I say, of course they have a choice. The Legislature has made no law against Craigslist's activities, and as the Electronic Frontier Foundation has clearly pointed out, the law is on the side of Craigslist.

But, there you have it. We'll keep you posted -- also watch for a response on Craigslist's blog (update: they've responded; see below.)

Or, you can get proactive and let McMaster know what you think:
- 1-803-734-3970

- The Honorable Henry McMaster
- P.O. Box 11549
- Columbia, S.C. 29211

- Office Location
- Rembert Dennis Building
- 1000 Assembly Street, Room 519
- Columbia, S.C. 29201

Update May 16: Here's Craigslist's response from their blog, in part:

McMaster today announced that our recent improvements, which go far beyond measures he personally endorsed six months ago, not only aren’t good enough, but actually require a criminal investigation. He feels justified in singling us out even now, and in condemning us and us alone as worthy of possible criminal charges.

Seriously? The craigslist adult services for Greenville, SC has a total of 1 ad for the last 3 days, featuring a photograph of a fully clothed person. The “erotic services” section for Greenville, which we recently closed, has 8 ads total which will expire in two days, and even for these ads the images and text are quite tame.

Meanwhile, the “adult entertainment” section of (careful with link, NSFW), owned by Village Voice Media, has over 60 ads for the last 3 days, and about 250 in total. In sharp contrast with craigslist, many of these ads are quite explicit, quoting prices for specific sex acts, featuring close-ups of bare genitalia, etc.

Of course, no one in mainstream legal circles thinks either company should be subject to civil suit, let alone a criminal investigation. But if for whatever reason you were so motivated, would you target a venue with 9 PG-13 rated ads, or one with 250 XXX rated ones?

This piece over at The State is also worthy reading on the mechanics of what we can expect next.