Craigslist CEO Demands Apology from South Carolina’s AG

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Craigslist’s chief executive demanded an apology from South Carolina’s attorney general Monday, saying the prosecutor’s threat to file prostitution charges against the company was unreasonable and unfair.

Attorney General Henry McMaster threatened last week to prosecute Craigslist executives for aiding and abetting prostitution if an ad on the Web site leads to a prostitution case in South Carolina. The prosecutor has said his office is investigating the ads, but so far no charges have been brought.

The San Francisco-based Craigslist has come under closer scrutiny for its “erotic services” category after a Boston-area man was accused of killing a masseuse he met through the Web site. The company has promised to eliminate the category and replace it with a new “adult services” section, where ads will be screened before they are posted.

“Many prominent companies, including AT&T, Microsoft, and Village Voice Media, not to mention major newspapers and other upstanding South Carolina businesses feature more ‘adult services’ ads than does craigslist, some of a very graphic nature,” Jim Buckmaster wrote in a company blog.

He included Internet links to listings for escort services throughout South Carolina. “Are you really prepared to condemn the executives of each of the mainstream companies linked above, and all the others that feature such ads, as criminals?”

McMaster, a Republican who plans to run for governor of South Carolina in 2010, declined to comment on Buckmaster’s latest blog. His campaign also was a topic in Buckmaster’s posting.

“craigslist may not matter in your world view, despite our popularity among your constituents, but mightn’t you want an endorsement from any of the SC newspapers for your gubenatorial campaign, whose publishers you’ve just labeled as criminals?” Buckmaster wrote.

Craigslist came under fire last month after Philip Markoff was accused of killing a New York City masseuse he met through the Web site. Police have also accused Markoff, 22, in the armed robbery of another woman. Police said both women had advertised erotic services on Craigslist.

Markoff has pleaded not guilty.

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