TV & Radio
シカゴの連邦裁判所で提訴されたこの訴訟は、かつては新聞が主な媒体であった項目別広告において、クレイグズリストの重要性が高まっていることを示している。現在、同サイトは２０カ国以上の１５０都市での広告を掲載している。連邦法は、宗教や人種、性別、既婚か独身かなど様々な理由にもとづいて借り手を差別することを禁じている。クレイグズリストのジム・ブックマスター最高経営責任者は、同社は差別的な広告を最小に抑える努力をしており、ユーザーの掲載した広告内容については法律的に責任を負わないと述べた。同リストは３週間前に、すべての住宅広告に黄色でハイライトしたリンクを付け加え、住宅関係の連邦法（Ｆｅｄｅｒａｌ ｆａｉｒ ｈｏｕｓｉｎｇ ｌａｗｓ）などの情報につながるようにした。
Posted on Thu, Feb. 09, 2006
Housing ads challenged
CRAIGSLIST ACCUSED IN SUIT OF POSTING DISCRIMINATORY ITEMS
By Sue McAllister
San Jose Mercury News
Craigslist, the Bay Area-based online community with global reach, was sued this week by a Chicago fair housing group that accused the company of allowing discriminatory housing ads on its site.
The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law alleges that since July, more than 200 Chicago-area housing ads posted to craigslist have violated fair housing laws by discriminating against prospective tenants on the basis of race, religion, family size or other characteristics.
Ads mentioned in the suit contained language such as ``Christian single straight female needed,'' ``Muslim preferred,'' and ``Sorry, no kids, no pets.''
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Chicago, is a sign of craigslist's growing importance in classified advertising, a market newspapers once dominated. The site now offers listings in more than 20 countries and 150 cities.
Federal fair housing laws prohibit advertisers and landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants based on a variety of factors, including religion, race, gender and marital status.
Craigslist Chief Executive Jim Buckmaster defended his company's efforts to minimize the number of discriminatory ads, and said the company is not legally responsible for the content of user postings.
``Discriminatory ads on craigslist are actually exceedingly rare,'' he wrote in response to e-mailed questions Wednesday. He cited users' vigilance in flagging such ads for removal from the site, as well as the company's recently enhanced efforts to link fair housing information to housing-related postings.
In addition, he wrote, ``the law is pretty clear to the effect that sites like craigslist cannot be held legally liable for the content of postings submitted by end users.''
He said the company goes ``far beyond what is required by law in posting very prominent educational notices about fair housing throughout our housing section.''
Helped by Palo Alto-based Project Sentinel Fair Housing and others, craigslist three weeks ago added a yellow-highlighted link to every housing ad it posts. The links lead to information on the federal fair housing law, guidance on how to write ads that comply with the law and to a site with details about each state's fair housing laws.
``It's obvious that craigslist has exploded and become like a household name, and everyone goes to it for jobs or housing or other community needs,'' said Gabe Zwettler of Project Sentinel. He said the group is working with craigslist to make fair housing rules ``more in-your-face,'' and typically pursues landlords who appear to violate the law, not Web sites. ``We're just trying to help them set up as many obstacles as possible for people trying to post discriminatory ads.''
Craigslist began 11 years ago as an e-mail list for San Francisco-area residents to post ads, share information and meet others. In the past few years, however, it has extended its mix of ads and community-building to cities from Albuquerque, N.M., to Auckland, New Zealand. As the company grows, it is more likely to face the kind of scrutiny typified by the Chicago group's lawsuit, said Rob Enderle, a technology industry analyst with the Enderle Group in San Jose.
``Craigslist is not used to having to edit'' the content on its site, Enderle said, but depending on how the Chicago lawsuit goes, it may have to become more aggressive about policing content, the way printed publications have done since fair housing laws were passed more than three decades ago.
Elyssa Winslow of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee said her group felt it necessary to monitor craigslist and other Web sites with housing ads because ``there's not nearly the level of discriminatory ads, nowhere close, in print ads as there are in online ads.''
She said ads like the ones mentioned in the lawsuit ``mislead readers into thinking these types of ads are normal and acceptable and you can base housing decisions'' on things like tenants' religion or national origin.
Contact Sue McAllister at smcallister@ mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5833.
craigslist Disputes "Fair" Housing Lawsuit
A group of lawyers has alleged that a handful of housing ads posted by our users are disciminatory, demanding that craigslist use outdated and mistake-prone methods that if adopted would actually reduce fair housing opportunity, while eroding free speech rights. In reality, the craigslist community already excels at ensuring equal opportunity housing, earning praise from fair housing groups. This lawsuit will likely be dismissed, and the craigslist community will be recognized as the gold standard for promoting fair housing for all, while fully respecting each person's constitutional right to free speech and free association.
Background: (about craigslist)
The Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is suing craigslist for 100 allegedly discriminatory ads posted by our Chicago users in a 6 month period, out of 200,000 housing ads submitted to chicago.craigslist.org in that timeframe. Most were roommate ads involving constitutionally protected speech and the right to free association, such as "prefer christian roommate", or were ads containing incidental and harmless remarks such as "near St Gertrude's church." Some of the challenged ads simply celebrated the diversity and tolerance of the craigslist community ("vibrant southwest Hispanic neighborhood offering great classical Mexican culture, restaurants, and businesses"). Others sought to appeal to some groups without excluding anyone ("Great apartment for graduate students"). And for a few it is difficult to determine what protected classification is at issue ("wants one nice quiet person").
Although in all likelihood this suit will be dismissed on the grounds that internet sites can not legally be held liable for content posted by users, craigslist has no need to hide behind this well-established immunity. We are extremely proud of the extraordinary results the craigslist community has achieved in ensuring equal housing opportunity on an unprecedentedly massive scale, while fully respecting constitutionally protected free speech rights. Discriminatory postings are exceedingly uncommon, and those few that do reach the site are typically removed quickly by our users through the flagging system that accompanies each ad.
We have worked closely with several fair housing groups over the years on educating craigslist users about fair housing issues, and every page in our housing section has highlighted fair housing messages, linked to extensive educational materials and resources for learning more, and craigslist has been praised by fair housing advocates for our efforts in this regard.
Though well-intentioned, this lawsuit misguidedly demands that we regress to primitive, mistake-prone, and wholly inadequate methods (such as manual review by our staff of the 2 million free housing ads of unlimited length posted each month, a volume of ads greater than that received by all US newspapers combined), methods which would actually be less effective in catching discriminatory ads than what we have in place currently, and which would vastly reduce the number of legitimate non-discriminatory ads that the site could process.
Ironically, if this lawsuit were to succeed the net effect would be to deal a double blow to civil rights - by significantly reducing access to equal opportunity housing, and by undercutting our fundamental free speech rights - thereby doing a great disservice to the very persons these lawyers purport to represent.
Putting aside the fact that craigslist legally can not be held liable in this suit, we feel very strongly that the craigslist community of users is on the very highest moral high ground with respect to fair housing, setting an example more worthy of emulation than litigation.