In the midst of several high-profile murder cases across the country involving popular online classifieds website Craigslist, the site's founder spoke in Minnesota Sunday at a memorial concert for one of the first victims.
The concert was in remembrance of Katherine Ann Olson, a 24-year-old who was murdered in 2007 after responding to a phony babysitting ad on Craigslist.
While the media has hounded Craig Newmark and his website for the recent crimes that have been committed through it, he took the moment at the podium to remember Olson and on behalf of reason and personal responsibility in the age of the internet.
"Despite the billions of times well-meaning people have helped each other through Craigslist, it's been devastating to see that it can also be used by bad people to take cruel advantage of others and bring a senseless end to a beautiful young life," Newmark said. "The most recent crime in Boston has been a grim reminder of that."
After starting an email list with friends in 1995, his idea for a marketplace of ideas and exchange exploded into a classifieds giant with 40 million new ads per month in 570 cities in 50 different countries. The site brings in upward of 22 billion page views per month.
And with that popularity comes the connection to crimes committed against people who use the site and the infamous "Craigslist killer" label that put the site in the middle of the tragedies. The unexpected attention brought a flurry of bad press as major players in the country have spoken out against the site's open nature that allows crimes such as prostitution to slip through their system. But can Craigslist take the blame as the facilitator of such activity?
In a City Pages feature published online last week, reporters Bradley Campbell and Matt Snyders recap the cases, including the most recent in Boston in light of the memorial concert this weekend. Despite the gruesome murder of their daughter, the Olsons have become one of Craiglist's most unlikely allies. They spoke to CP about their daughter and the circumstances of her death.
Here is Newmark's speech from the Sunday concert: