Under a barrage of media scrutiny and accusations of facilitating sex trafficking, Craigslist quietly took down the adult services section of their website last week. Other than emblazoning a bold “censored” bar over the adult services link on their website—which they took down a few days later without statement—Craigslist has been largely silent on the matter.
But on Wednesday, Craigslist will break its silence at a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. The hearing will explore the role of online ad services in the exploitation and trafficking of minors. Craigslist’s Director of Customer Service and Law Enforcement Relations, William Clint Powell will testify alongside federal lawmakers and representatives from law enforcement and human rights groups.
Among the panelists will be Tina Frundt, winner of the 2010 Frederick Douglass Freedom Award. Frundt—herself a survivor of childhood sex slavery—is the founder Courtney’s House, an organization that helps sex trafficking victims transition back into the community.
Some have called Craigslist the “Walmart of online sex trafficking,” saying the website facilitates illegal activities, and does not properly safe guard the public. But others argue that censoring the adult services ads on Craigslist—by far the most popular personal ads website in the country—will drive sex trafficking further underground, making it harder to trace and prosecute.