Southern Voice Online
Southern Voice


Warning: men seeking men
Craigslist posts disclaimer
for gay male personals

By DYANA BAGBY & BO SHELL | Aug 31, 2:21 PM

The "culture" of gay men seeking other men online requires a warning message to viewers, according to the owners of Craigslist, the popular Web site that features items for sale, job openings and personal ads in hundreds of cities across the United States.

     
Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said the popular site warns visitors to its 'men seeking men' link of explicit content because the gay ads are 'a culture that is different than the others.' (Photo by Gene X Hwang/Orange Photography)
Shawn Norton, 26, is an aerospace engineer living in Arlington, Md., and an avid user of Craigslist. But Norton, who is gay, said he was taken aback when scrolling the personals, he found a detailed warning about "explicitly sexual content" at the "men seeking men" link.

The message requires viewers to be 18 years old and agree to release "the providers, owners and creators of this site from any and all liability which may arise from my use of the site."

The same warning is posted at the Craigslist "casual encounters" link, but is not posted at the "men seeking women," "women seeking men" or "women seeking women" links.

While the MSM link does contain numerous sexually explicit photos, similarly graphic images can be found in other personal ad categories on the sites.

To Norton, the discrepancy represents discrimination.

"I am a gay man and I find this very offensive," he said. "It seems they are saying gay male sex is more sexually explicit and more offensive than the others. It's obvious they are discriminating against a certain group of people."

But Jim Buckmaster, CEO of San Francisco-based Craigslist, said the company's policy is a response to user feedback requesting the warning on the MSM link.

"The men seeking men users, they're of a culture that is different than the others," Norton said. "This link is used almost exclusively for explicit ads. And that is the reason for the warning — the norm on this link is for very explicit ads."

The other links, excluding casual encounters, lean toward non-explicit ads focused more on relationships and romance, Buckmaster added.

"You can find sexually explicit ads on the other personals links, but they are miscategorized and will often be flagged by users and removed," he said. "The vast majority of the users of the other links don't want to see explicit ads."

The warning at the MSM link existed for several years before Craigslist created the "casual encounters" link in late 2000, hoping all explicit ads would move to this site, Norton said. Similar warnings are also posted at the Craigslist "rants and raves" and "erotic services" links.

"Our thought would be that the MSM sexually explicit ads would go to casual encounters and the MSM link would be for those seeking romance and long-term relationships," Buckmaster said.

But when gay men kept posting explicit ads in the MSM section, Craigslist kept the warning, he said.

"We don't like to use warnings. But we are not going to post warnings at the others to prove a theoretical point," Buckmaster said.

Other popular online personals sites appear to take a different approach.

Yahoo! Personals does not allow sexually explicit content to be posted on the site. Users who do not comply with that policy or a slew of others set forth by the company's "Code of Conduct" and "Guidelines" may have their account terminated or have the questionable content removed.

AOL and MSN personals are both affiliated with Match.com. A search of Match.com yielded no explicit photos, but no clause banning nude images could be found in the company's terms of service agreement. But Match.com reserves the right to remove inappropriate content.

Gay.com, a site for gay and lesbian personals, requires registration and payment before users can access adult content. A quick search of the available profiles yielded some explicit content, not protected by a disclaimer like the one used by Craigslist.

INFO
Craigslist
1381 9th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122
415-566-6394
www.craigslist.org

E-mail for Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist CEO: jim@craigslist.org


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