Definition of Craigslist | PCMag
A website of classified ads and community notices that serves an urban area. It was started in 1995 in San Francisco by Craig Newmark and has since spread to hundreds of cities in more than 50 countries. Listings are free, but job and rental postings in major cities are paid. For more information, visit
Old Fashioned and Thriving
Instead of a glitzy home page with animations, banner ads and eye candy, craigslist home pages are mostly columns of text. However, Newmark’s philosophy of keeping things simple has caused Craigslist to rival eBay and Amazon in number of online users wanting to buy and sell. While eBay and Amazon are public companies with thousands of employees, Craigslist is a private company with less than three dozen. See Angie’s list.
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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of Craigslist – GetKidsInternetSafe
Craigslist is the website where Internet users can buy and sell anything. In just a few clicks of the mouse, one can browse advertisements for housing, items for sale, jobs, information forums, help for services, gigs, community events, and even people. Craigslist can be a highly useful tool, but it also has a dark side. I pulled together accounts from reputable publications to inform GKIS readers about Craigslist benefits and its risks. Then I offered some quick tips for staying safe when using Craigslist.
From Hobby to Fortune
In 1995, Craig Newmark started an email program as a hobby. This program allowed him to easily communicate social events to other San Francisco Internet developers. Word of the program grew quickly, and users began posting emails for other purposes like job searching. Due to popular demand, Craig quickly expanded the features of the program, and in only a year, the website, Craigslist, was created.
The website continued to rapidly expand, and in 1999 Craig’s hobby became a full-time job. In 2010, Craig’s net worth was estimated at a staggering 400 million dollars! His website is now available in over seventy countries and is visited over 20 billion times a month (Terynn, 2013).
So Easy, Your Child Can Do It
Craigslist is famously known as “the public online marketplace. ” The website’s user-friendly system and free cost to advertise, draws in 55 million users every month, in the US alone (Usman, 2014). It’s now commonly used by the average American and is a staple for amateur buying and selling.
To access Craigslist, you do not need a user name, personal information, or a credit card. You are free to browse all the content on the website anonymously. If you see an advertisement you like, simply click on the ad, and you will be taken to a page with more detail of the item and a link to the owner.
Creating an ad on craigslist is also easy. Select a category you wish to make an ad for (items for sale, personals, jobs etc. ). Then add a title for your ad, a description of what you are selling, and any personal information for those to reach you (email, phone number, social media, or a home address). Once you have posted the advertisement it is viewable to everybody on the site.
My Experience with Craigslist
I love using Craigslist. I have bought and sold many items using the site, and each transaction has gone smoothly. I have had many welcoming encounters, and I have even become friends with a few people I have met. The website is intuitive and easy to manage, and the free advertisement it provides is amazing. However, like with so many Internet sites, people have found ways to use Craigslist for unanticipated, illegal purposes.
The Dark Side: Scammers, Stalkers, and Setups
Scammers use Craigslist to steal money from unsuspecting victims by placing fraudulent advertisements with incredible deals. Buyers are asked to send money orders or checks online, and after making payment, never receive their item. Scammers also take advantage of those selling items. They do this by sending bad money orders or checks that bounce (Paul, 2013).
In Ohio a man tried to use Craigslist to sell his car. He was thrilled when a man responded to his advertisement wanting to purchase his vehicle. The man claimed to be from South Carolina but was unable to come and pick up the car in person. He asked if the car could be shipped to him, and he would send a check to cover the cost of shipping and the vehicle. The Ohio man agreed, and his customer sent $5, 450. After receiving the money, he paid for the car to be shipped and told the man from South Carolina it was on its way. The next day he checked his bank account, and the funds he had received were no longer good. He tried to contact the man but was unable to and lost $2500 dollars due to the shipping charges (John, 2016).
Stalkers are also using Craigslist to set-up and harass victims. They do this by posting advertisements that may include the victim’s phone number, address, and even photos. The stalker can even pose as the victim through email and send messages to those who respond to the ad. Victims are then targeted by the harassment of unknown strangers.
A woman from Maryland, was horrified when she founds ads posted on craigslist that read, “Rape me and my daughters. ” The ad included her address and photos of her and her daughters. She contacted police, and police found that her ex-husband was responsible for the ads (Justin, 2013).
A bizarre Craigslist story involved a soon-to-be-married couple and an ex-girlfriend (Kelley, 2017). The soon-to-be wife claimed that the ex-girlfriend created a Craigslist advertisement posing as her. In the ad people were asked to come to her house and forcibly rape her. The soon-to-be wife also called the police, claiming that a man had forcibly entered her garage and attempted to rape her. When police arrived, the woman had red marks around her neck and a ripped shirt. Police never found a suspect. However, investigators examined the Internet history of both women. They discovered that the soon-to-be wife had created the advertisement to frame the ex-girlfriend!
Robbery and Sexual Assault
Robberies and assaults are unfortunately quite common on Craigslist. Criminals know that victims are bringing valuable items to meetings and use this knowledge to plan locations where they can easily rob their targets. They also take advantage of trusting and unaccompanied victims.
In Seattle, a woman used the services section of Craigslist. She posted an advertisement asking for someone to fix her broken microwave. A man responded to her ad. When he arrived at her house, she was home alone. He sexually assaulted her and fled the premises (Levi, 2008).
Another story comes from a man who used the personals section of Craigslist. This is a highly controversial section of Craigslist due to its use for soliciting sexual acts. It is illegal to post advertisements soliciting sex on the website, and many are taken down. However, the use of code words has allowed many ads to go undetected (Ed, 2017). In this story the man arrived at an address he had received from the female he had been talking to online. He entered the house and was assaulted and robbed by two men (Levi, 2008).
Child Trafficking and Slavery
Criminals are using Craigslist to make victims sex slaves. One way they do this is by placing advertisements in the “rooms for rent” category. The ads have incredible deals which lure in unsuspecting victims. A woman from Wisconsin responded to an ad that offered free rent for cooking and cleaning. The apartment was in Brooklyn, and when the woman arrived, the man picked her up at the airport. Once at the apartment, the man handcuffed the woman to his radiator and forced her to be his sex slave. After eight days of enslavement she was released. Authorities were contacted and the man was arrested (Irin, 2011).
Children has also been victimized using Craigslist. A father from Texas was arrested and convicted for committing child prostitution and child trafficking. This creep placed ads on Craigslist offering to “come play with daddy’s little girl”. He also tried selling his daughter for one-thousand-dollars (Jeff, 2015).
How to be Craigslist Safe
If the buyer or seller won’t give you their name or phone number or the offer is too good to be true. Abort mission.
Deal with only local people and vet their authenticity by asking for their name and social media handles. Google them to investigate their digital to the seller on the phone. Ask questions about the item to get a feel for the situation. How long have you had it? Are you the original buyer? Why are you selling it? If their information about the item is sketchy, so are they.
Never give personal information about yourself beyond your name and phone number. If they say they need information for a credit check, make sure the situation is legitimate before you agree to anything.
Only meet during daylight and have a buddy with you whether you’re buying or selling. A public meeting place is best.
Make sure your photos don’t contain meta data, like geotagged location of the photo (where predators can track your advertised merchandise to your home).
Cash only. Do not wire money or accept a check, cashier’s check, or money order. It is a common scam to ask you to cash a check that’s made out for more money than you are asking for.
Trust your gut. If the situation doesn’t feel right, end the transaction.
Thank you to CSUCI Intern, Dylan Smithson for informing parents of the potential dangers on Craigslist. The next time you visit the website, use the Craigslist safe tips. Don’t become a craigslist horror story. If you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to share with friends and family, and give us a like on our GetKidsInternetSafe Facebook page.
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
Tracy S. Bennett, Ph. D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty
Ed S. (2017) Craigslist Code Words: Do you Know What They Really Mean?
Irin C. (2011) The Disturbing Story of the Craigslist “Sex Slave”
Jeff E. (2015) Shocking Details of Alleged Child Prostitution Case Make Court Onlookers Gasp
John M. (2016) Hamilton man loses $2, 500 to Craigslist Scam
Justin J. (2013) Stalkers use online ads as weapons against victims
Kelley P. (2017) Wife thought to be victim in “rape fantasy” Craigslist case now charged with framing husbands ex-girlfriend
Levi P. (2008) Free and Friendly Craigslist has its dark side
Paul M. (2013) 8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For
Usman A. (2014) Top 10 Countries using Craigslist 2014
Top 10 Countries using Craigslist 2014
Terynn B. (2013) Who is Craig From Craigslist
Who is Craig From Craigslist?
Shady Characters Jason Rogers, CC BY 2. 0
The dark sides Georgie Pauwels, CC BY 2. 0
Come to the Dark Side Holley and Chris Melton, CC BY 2. 0
Craig’s List Clone for Do It With Drupal Jeff Robbins, CC BY 2. 0
Reese, Hacker. Donnie Ray Jones, CC BY 2. 0
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Using the Web to Get Stuff Done: What is Craigslist?
Lesson 4: What is Craigslist?
What is Craigslist?
Craigslist is a website for viewing and posting local advertisements.
It works a lot like the Classifieds section of a newspaper, and it’s completely free to use. You can find a listing for almost anything on Craigslist—jobs, apartments, garage sales, used cars, personal ads, and a whole lot more.
Why use Craigslist? Because you can easily connect with people near you to find, buy, or sell just about anything.
And because it’s free to use, you’ll be able to find things that people might not have bothered listing with a paid classified ad. Many people even post things you can have for free, as long as you’re willing to pick it up.
It’s easy to get started with Craigslist.
Just go to in your web browser. Next, you’ll need to choose your location (or allow Craigslist to use your current location).
This will direct you to the Craigslist page for your region.
In our example, you can see that we’re browsing You may also notice that the Craigslist homepage isn’t very pretty. That doesn’t mean it’s any less usable or trustworthy than other sites on the Web; because most of Craiglist’s content is created by users, the site just doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on its design.
So how do I actually use this site?
You can use Craigslist to find just about anything. In this example, we’ll show you how to buy something on Craigslist.
Choose a category, or use the Search tool.
In our example, we’d like to find a new bike, so we’ll select bikes under the for sale section.
In our opinion, some of the most useful listings on Craigslist can be found in the jobs, housing, and for sale categories. You might find useful postings in some of the other categories, such as community or personal ads, but note that these can be inconsistent—or even a little fishy.
In some cases, you may also need to choose a subcategory.
In this case, we’ll select bikes that are for sale by owner, but we could also look at bikes for sale by dealer or for bike parts and accessories.
Browse, filter, and search your results.
Any relevant postings will appear, much like the results from a search engine. You can then use the filters to narrow your results by price range, location, and more. You can also search within these results for something more specific. If you see something you’re interested in, just click it for more information.
If you find something you want, look for more contact information in the listing.
This will usually be an email address or phone number. Sometimes you may need to click show contact info to view the details.
Send a short, simple message to let the poster know you’re interested.
In this example, your message might look something like this:
“Hi! I saw your listing for the Girls Novara Pixie 20″ bike on Craigslist. I can offer you $100. Is it still available? ”
You should also include a phone number or email address so the seller will be able to return your message.
Complete your transaction, and make sure to do it safely.
If the poster agrees to sell you the item, you’ll need to agree on a time and place to meet. For many, the idea of meeting a stranger and exchanging money is uncomfortable—and maybe even a little scary. However, there are several ways to make sure you can stay safe when completing a transaction through Craigslist:
Meet in a public place during daylight transfer money electronically—most people on Craigslist prefer to use your instincts; if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You can learn more about personal safety on Craigslist here.
OK, so those are just the basics of using Craigslist.
And you can use Craigslist for so much more—finding a place to live, a new job, or just selling some of your old stuff.
Frequently Asked Questions about craigslist means
Why is Craigslist so bad?
The Dark Side: Scammers, Stalkers, and Setups. Scammers use Craigslist to steal money from unsuspecting victims by placing fraudulent advertisements with incredible deals. Buyers are asked to send money orders or checks online, and after making payment, never receive their item.
What is Craigslist mainly used for?
Craigslist is a website for viewing and posting local advertisements. It works a lot like the Classifieds section of a newspaper, and it’s completely free to use. You can find a listing for almost anything on Craigslist—jobs, apartments, garage sales, used cars, personal ads, and a whole lot more.
How does Craigs list work?
The site’s main function is to host classified ads that cover practically every category you can think of, including housing, job postings, items for sale, services and personals. … Posting for most classifieds categories on craigslist is free, and it’s also free to browse and respond to ads.