CNN Falsely Accuses Craig’s List of Publishing Ads in Adult Services

Repeated false accusations against Craig’s List led to the censorship of its Adult Services section yesterday after CNN repeated attacked the website with a misleading news report in which Amber Lyon falsely accused Craig’s List of promoting child sex trafficking in the adult services section of its website. The falsehoods of this smear campaign can be found in her tactics that present a misleading image to the untrained eye while rewarding law enforcement for incompetence.Amber Lyon began her Craig’s List smear campaign by posting an ad on the site herself, showing that it was visible on the site, and then confronting Craig Newmark with false accusations of publishing her ad as well as similarly written ads created by end users on his website. The report was then presented to the public in a way that people unfamiliar with how computers work might think that Craig’s List itself were the publisher of such material. The problem with her position is that it can be debunked by taking a close look at her report in which she can be seen initiating a button click event to publish her fake ad on the site just like the authors of every other ad on the site publish of their ads. Despite this she claimed that Craig’s List “posted” the ad and presented it in a way that a reasonable person unfamiliar with the technical aspects of posting information with a web form could believe was the fault of Craig’s List. This is because most people outside of the web development community for which I am a member have no idea how dynamic websites operate.When Amber Lyon independently initiated the button click event a HTTP POST was sent to the server and the content of the text fields on the page were inserted into a database along with information not visible to the eye such as user id and date. The insert created a new row with a unique id number along with a collection of columns for title, description, etc. A HTTP POST can be triggered automatically, but usually as is the case with Craig’s List requires an end user to click a button for it to happen making it technologically impossible for Craig’s List to be responsible for the event. To display the data online for end users sites like Craig’s List have a series of search pages with data bound lists that display records from a database that meet the necessary criteria according to a Select Statement written in Structured Query Language (SQL). These sites typically have a Where Clause that uses a series of Operators to filter data based on integer values and string patterns. Constraints in the Where Clause typically include things like “activeuser = 1” where “activeuser” is a binary variable with 1 meaning true and 0 meaning false to return a grid of all ads created by users whose accounts have not been deactivated. List pages typically contain a link to a details page that includes the item id number in the URL as is the case of Craig’s List. The anatomy of a Craig’s List ad URL is a combination of the city sub domain, domain name, neighborhood, sub category, item id, and file extension. This may appear to the untrained eye as a unique document as if Craig’s List created a new page and uploaded it to the internet, but it’s not. It’s a dynamic form that display data bound fields for a single record using a Where Clause that requires that the item id be in the querystring of the URL. The result is an efficient system capable of displaying an unlimited number of records within the capability of its hardware without requiring any additional human resources to maintain. It does not matter if you have 10 users or 10 million as long as the computer is running no additional staffing is needed so long as you have proper disclaimers and require end users to assume all legal liability for their activities before being allowed to use the service.Now that it has been established the Craig Newmark does not post ads on his website its time take a look at how the First Amendment protects the ability to accurately report statements made by others. Now assume for a second that Craig Newmark was stupid enough to constipate the flow information by blocking new ads all the while wasting money by hiring staff to review and approve user generated records he would have the right to approve every single submission regardless of its content because the First Amendment protects the right for Person A to tell others what Person B says whether its “my name is Paris Hilton and I suck dick for coke” or “I look like Paris Hilton, but half her age and I suck dick for coke just like she does”. The statement itself is irrelevant so long as Person A repeats it accurately when telling other people about it. This applies to representing data as well because no matter what a Craig’s List ad says it will always be an accurate representation of alphanumeric and non-alphanumeric characters as it exists in the database.Law enforcement officials have been speaking out against Craig’s List and falsely accusing the website of enabling criminal activity for years while failing to take responsibility for failing to deter internet related crimes through proper enforcement of the law. Criminals would not abuse websites including, but by no means limited to Craig’s List if law enforcement would do their jobs by turning their ads into nothing more than targets at which point they might as well say “Please Officer Arrest Me Now”. Instead they just blame Craig Newmark with false accusations and blame for making their jobs harder when in fact it would just be making their jobs easier if they were doing the jobs we are paying them to do in first place. Special victims units are the ones to blame for people getting away posting ads harmful to minors on Craig’s List just like immigration officials are to blame for not cracking down on sham marriage solicitations posted by illegal aliens.Overall this Craig’s List smear campaign is nothing more than the blatant slander of an innocent service provider who himself is the victim of countless delinquent users like Amber Lyon who entered into a legally binding service contract with him before blatantly violating it and is now subject to section 19 of the Craig’s List Terms of Use where she agreed to compensate Craig’s List “actual damages, to the extent such actual damages can be reasonably calculated” as well as $1,000 for posting a false ad plus $3,000 for each time she has reproduced content from the site without permission by putting images of the site in her news report. If Amber Lyon did this to me I would file a lawsuit against her and her boss CNN for breach of contract and seek damages for any loss in ad revenue due to the negative publicity as well as the fixed amounts she agreed to pay for posting false information and reproducing content from the site without permission. I would also sue them for slander, libel, and defamation for her statement that the site “posted” her ad which as I outlined above is technically impossible to be the case and for statements like “you’re the one who posted this online” that falsely puts blame on Craig Newmark for user generated content after agreeing at sign up that all ads are the “sole responsibility of the person from whom such Content originated”. I would also consider pressing criminal charges due to the fact that Lyon engaged in an act of Cyber-Terrorism as defined by the Technolytics Institute by engaging in “The premeditated use of disruptive activities, or the threat thereof, against computers and/or networks, with the intention to cause harm or further social, ideological, religious, political or similar objectives”.Personally I’ve never used adult services ads on Craig’s List or any other site, so I won’t miss them at all. What bothers me is the principal of targeting a victim of internet scumbags who like all crime victims should not have to alter a legitimate service to do a job that law enforcement will not do in a way that will just move the crime elsewhere. I also think people need to think of all the good things that Craig’s List does like help people find jobs, homes, and connect with local people and businesses offering second hand merchandise and service. I found an internship on Craig’s List that led to a job after college, thank you Craig Newmark.