Center for Internet Fellow Ryan Calo talked to the LA Times' DeeDee Correll about the role of Craigslist in a criminal case involving Jebidiah James Stipe, a Marine stationed at Twentynine Palms, California who is a accused of using the free online advertising service to arrange the rape of his former girlfriend:
A Wyoming man is accused of posing online as his former girlfriend and soliciting someone to act out a violent sexual fantasy.
The advertisement appeared on Craigslist in early December.
One week later, a man accepted the offer, forcing his way into the woman's home, tying her up and raping her at knifepoint.
Federal law protects Internet sites from liability for their users' actions, said M. Ryan Calo, residential fellow at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.
"The idea was that these website platforms were truly communities assembled of random users, with no editorial control over what users were doing. Craigslist is like a hotel with millions of rooms, but it doesn't have the ability to figure out what's happening in those rooms," Calo said.
A crime committed through a social networking site is no different than one perpetrated through a newspaper's printed classifieds, he said. Yet Internet-based crimes do make it easier for police to track down suspects because they leave a cyber-trail, Calo said.