Paranoid Thought for the Day: Craigs List

Of course, there are tire kickers, not to mention the offering of services which are illegal in most states. But overall, the reviews are very good. Wood chippers, skis, washing machines, cars, on and on – friends and family have enthused about the stuff they’ve been able to sell or the bargains they’ve obtained via this free (did I mention free?) classified listing service.
It is difficult, however, not to speculate that there is bad intent behind the offering – gratis – of a good service. Especially as the service is not offered entirely without strings attached. Or more specifically, cookies – cookies that could track all websites visited and do heaven knows what else. Not to mention – cue ominous music – the millions of e-mail and IP addresses harvested.
So who is behind Craigs List and what is their ulterior motive? My own suspicion, based solely on their ruthlessness and demonstrated lack of values, is that it is the Chinese government. And their ultimate goal is world domination. Craigs List alone will not achieve this for them, naturally; it is but one tool in their arsenal box.
But I am open to suggestion on the matter so feel free to posit your own threat or conspiracy.
Commenter Pitcher points out that Craigs List is not free in all market, as it charges for

help wanted ads in three cities, and for apartment rental listings in NYC from apartment brokers

Additionally, dealing a serious blow to my theory that the Chinese government is behind Craigs List, it appears that there is a real Craig – his name is Craig Newmark – and he has a foundation, the Craigslist Foundation.
An unkind characterization of the foundation would be that it is borderline “commie”, emphasizing as it does the development of non-profit organizations. (Why are so many people down on profits?) But this deals the fatal blow to my theory. Highly unaverse to profits (even if channelled solely to those in power and their cronies), the Chinese government is communist in name only.

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15 years ago

Monique, your post sounds like Craigslist is a new thing to you. Or you’re really joking. Or someone got access to your account and thought it would be good to post this under your name.
Are you asking if Craigslist in general is on the up and up?
I’m confused…

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
15 years ago

You might ask by the same token why there were free music downloads that got the music industry so riled up?I think some people or groups like to operate outside the mainstream just for the hell of it,because thay CAN,as it were.Not everyone is driven by the profit motive.The internet has opened up vast opportunities for all kinds of contra-authoritarians to make an impact.Why do you think two brothers running a computer shop in Pakistan started the concept of computer viruses years ago?Sometimes the world is like a comic book story.Think how much some folks must enjoy upsetting the world’s “leadership”cadre.Giving the bigwigs virtual “wedgies”?

15 years ago

I often wondered the same thing, but a site like CL doesn’t take much to run.
However, in some of the bigger cities, listings for jobs and real estate do cost money to post. So for something like or, they make a good chunk of change off of those.
From Craig himself:
Well, we asked people five or six years ago, how’s the right way to make some money. They told us to charge people who were already paying too much money for less effective ads.
We do very little of that, just charging for help wanted ads in three cities, and for apartment rental listings in NYC from apartment brokers. (They asked us to charge them, to reduce redundancy and to improve quality, and that’s working.)
We rejected banner ads starting in late ’97.
We direct donations to our foundation or other nonprofits.

15 years ago

(It’s purely a coincidence that over the past several months, as I’ve used craigslist to search for jobs, the amount of spam penetrating my e-mail fortress has skyrocketed.)

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