The Craigslist murders, brought to you by its competitors

28 February 2011

A new study has confirmed what we all believed to be the case; online classifieds website Craigslist is a "cesspool of crimes", rammed to the rim with murders and deviants. It's true! And Craigslist won't even deny it! Crikey.

The report by a consultancy called AIM Group isn't backward in coming forward when highlighting the findings of its research:

"We counted 20 killings linked to Craigslist during the past three-and-a-half years – 12 of them during the past year. The report covers 74 robberies during the past year, and 31 assaults. All of the crimes were committed in the United States and reported by police and news media.

To be fair, Craigslist as an entity can’t be blamed for the things that happen among its users. It’s merely a facilitator of commerce, after all. And we understand thousands or even tens of thousands of transactions happen safely between Craigslist aficionados.

But that’s no longer an excuse that Craigslist can hide behind.

The unfortunate fact is that Craigslist has become almost synonymous with crime."

AIM Group pulls no punches, but what was their reason for conducting the research in the first place?

The AIM Group has just completed a research project for Oodle, a Craigslist competitor, cataloging crimes that have been linked to Craigslist.

It turns out that Oodle, a competitor of Craigslist is behind the attention-seeking research. That doesn't mean the research isn't correct, however, so how do the statistics stack up? Is crime within the Craigslist community as widespread as the report clearly wants consumers (and the media) to believe?

Bitterwallet - Craislist crime report

Well, no. The people who know better are Craiglist themselves, who provide some context to the AIM's scary numberfest:

AIM group “documents” 330 crimes that it says occurred in connection with use of Craigslist in the US over a 12 month period. Sounds scary until you compare that number to the 570 million classified ads posted by 100 million or more US users during that same time span, generating literally billions of human interactions, many involving face-to-face meetings between users who do not know one another.

AIM Group facetiously writes “we understand thousands or even tens of thousands of transactions happen safely between Craigslist aficionados.”

Try hundreds of millions or billions of safe transactions. How does the self-proclaimed “bible of the classifieds industry” arrive at a range that underestimates the transaction volume of Craigslist by 5 or more orders of magnitude (and declines to correct it)?

And so it turns out that Craigslist is in fact safer than the real world, and the research has been presented out of context. Oodle has responded by stating "12 murders [and] 330 crimes are significant even when you take the size of Craigslist’s audience into account", and completely dismisses the fact that the numbers may be proportional to the amount of activity.

In fact it's really relevant; Oodle's traffic number are so low compared to Craigslist, that just one crime occurring as a result of an Oodle listing would result in a crime rate per user nearly double that attributed to Craiglist. In other words, the figures are indeed terrifying - but only when squinting and looking at them through a sponge.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment