CHICAGO - Online classifieds site Craigslist said Wednesday it will drop its controversial "erotic services" category in response to law enforcers who said the ads were a front for prostitution.
The old category will be replaced with one listing "adult services," and a fee will be charged, the company said. Employees will monitor every posting before it appears online -- a precaution the site has been criticized for refusing to take in the past.
Pressure to remove the category increased this spring after a Boston medical student was charged with killing a masseuse whom authorities say he met through Craigslist.
The move also comes two months after Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart filed a lawsuit alleging Craigslist not only allows the solicitation of prostitution but had created what he called the "largest source of prostitution in America."
Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said the agreement preserves a place "for legal businesses to advertise" while incorporating feedback from attorneys general, free speech advocates, law enforcement, Internet law experts and millions of Americans who use the site.
Craigslist officials and attorneys general from Illinois, Connecticut and Missouri met last week to seek an end to the ads. "Craigslist's erotic services section had become nothing more than an Internet brothel," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. The erotic services ads will expire in seven days.
Madigan said authorities will closely monitor the ads that go up on the new section.
Madigan said the changes would put a dent in prostitution but acknowledged the changes will also drive prostitution solicitations to other platforms. She said authorities will monitor those, too.
Dart attorney Daniel Gallagher said he remained skeptical, saying Craigslist made similar promises before to the attorneys general. He said, "I'm not going to take their word for it, we want to see action."