As one of the most-visited websites on the Internet, Craigslist is nothing to joke about. This popular website had small beginnings, and was created as a small, local startup by Craig Newmark in San Francisco in 1995. Since then, Craigslist has evolved into an international social-sharing empire, connecting individuals throughout the world. While Craigslist is a highly popular tool for helping people post and find jobs, search for apartments, buy and sell products and build personal relationships, it can and has been used as a tool to harm others, with fatal outcomes.
One of the most recent and most traumatic incidents dealing with Craigslist comes from Sunbury, Pennsylvania, where a woman was recently arrested for murder. Nineteen-year-old Miranda Barbour, who was arrested and convicted in November for mercilessly stabbing, choking and murdering a man she met through Craigslist, has now revealed that this wasn’t her only victim. Barbour has recently revealed that she has killed at least 22 people; however, she stated that after her 22nd murder she has lost track. She also stated that each of her slayings were a means of providing justice, and that she deemed all of her victims as bad people who had their murders coming to them. The young murderer and her husband stalked their victims through the use of Craigslist, by pretending to be seeking companionship with others through the website. Once the couple made a meaningful contact with their victims, they would choose a place to meet them and then carry out their deadly plans.
This story sick and twisted story isn’t the only instance that Craigslist has been used as a means of violence and murder. In 2009, a medical student Philip Markoff was named the original “Craigslist Killer,” having been convicted of robbery and murder. Like Barbour, Markoff found his victims through the personal sector of Craigslist and lied and exploited his victims before causing them harm. As his means of finding his prey, Markoff responded to women’s personal ads under the fake name “Andy,” and made dates to meet with them at hotels. When meeting the women, instead of creating a relationship with them, he robbed and murdered them. This incident has since been memorialized in film as the Lifetime movie, “The Craigslist Killer.”
Fatal incidents like these raise a lot of questions about this popular website’s security. While Craigslist is intended to be a self-policing site where individuals can interact freely, it seems as though safety is often compromised, with deadly effects. With several murders, robberies and identity scams that have happened on Craigslist, a strong case can and should be made for heightening security on this website. While these tragedies continue to occur, the website remains unsecure, leaving Craigslist users to use their best judgment and protect themselves from any potential threats. While little actions have been carried out by the website itself and more and more “Craigslist Killers” are convicted daily, users are cautioned to practice safety on this website to the best of their ability, and never meet with a stranger.
Editorial by Allison Longstreet