So, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who had threatened to bring criminal charges against Craigslist by last Friday if the company failed to comply with his request to eliminate content he deemed objectionable to the fair citizens of his state, has apparently blinked. Meanwhile, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster has fired back with a blog post on the company web site demanding an apology from McMaster for singling-out Craigslist as a high-profile target:
Have you fully considered the implications of your accusations against Craigslist? What’s a crime for Craigslist is clearly a crime for any company. 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? 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 gubernatorial campaign, whose publishers you’ve just labeled as criminals? Do you really intend to launch a criminal investigation against the phone company? -Craigslist CEO, Jim Buckmaster on his blog, 5/18/09
As we foreshadowed in our blog post last week, Section 230 protects companies like Craigslist from being held liable for content created by users and the actions by McMaster are flatly wrong.