In the AP story Craigslist Accused of Ad Discriminating [AP/Yahoo News] A federal lawsuit accuses the online site Craigslist of violating fair housing laws by publishing discriminatory classified ads, reviving the question of what legal boundaries, if any, should exist for postings on the Internet.
They are being sued for phrases such as: near a church or there’s a kosher deli around the corner …about 1-2 of these ads per 100,000 listings.
How can any online provider filter all content? 19 Craigslist employees (100% of their employees) policing 2 million free housing ads per month seems to be impossible. The intention of the lawsuit is to have internet classifieds follw the same standards as print media. However, the consensus of experts seems to be that internet law says that an online service provider is not considered a publisher when it passes along information.
In addition, EBay has a 25% interest in Craigslist and has experience in this sort of “content” litigation as well. This should prove to be interesting and many in the online classified industry will be watching closely.