Ethical dilemmas‎ > ‎

Craigslist versus the spammers

posted Nov 9, 2010, 10:10 AM by Miles Shea

Not only is Craigslist the country’s most popular apartment listing site, job hunt destination and dating service all rolled into one, but it is also home to one of the largest front lines in the war against spammers.  Craigslist spam takes a variety of unethical forms, with one of the more common ones being the posting of an ad multiple times outside its proper category. 

An enormously valuable resource, facilitating a countless number of economic transactions, Craigslist is constantly under attack by spammers hoping to get a little more exposure for whatever little thing it is they sell.  Left unchecked, these practices could seriously inhibit its usefulness. 

One of Craigslist’s more effective countermeasures was the adoption of Captcha, which requires a poster to manually type in a displayed word.  So, spammers did what anybody in their situation would have done: pay poor people to type the Captcha words in for them!  Craigslist recently won a judgment which held that circumventing Captcha was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  We’ll see what happens next.