The Craigslist Context

Posted by Jeff Smack, Art Director

“People are good and trustworthy and generally just concerned with getting through the day,” Craig Newmark, the Craigslist founder and namesake, is quoted in the newest issue of WIRED.

This is a bit of a sequel to a previous post. I cringe at the danger-hype around Craigslist and other internet hubs and social media. A few weeks back I made light of the news media and their sensational spin on some specific common sense situations. I think they’re starting to come around a bit lately however. The teasers (More at 10!) and the headlines (THE TRAGEDY OF CRAIGSLIST…) still play on our morbid curiosities but the actual features have been more level headed the last few times I’ve noticed.

One recent local Richmond report gave some good advice that I’d sum up in the following way: “Advertising ‘massage’ and taking 2 am appointments anonymously over the internet is sooner or later going to prove itself a bad idea.”

It’s common sense. We don’t blame the phone for a prank call. We don’t blame the bulletin board when the yard sale yields no treasure. Craigslist is not teleporting high risk activity into otherwise prudent living rooms.

The reason Craigslist endures all of this nonsense, I believe, is because Newmark’s world view and attitude about people is essentially correct. People are basically good, occupied with living their lives and not inherently malicious. People will continue to misuse tools and consequently make the news. In the meantime I wish traditional media would stop trying to scare me away from my browser.