Why Are All Of Craigslist’s M4M Posts Disappearing?

Cops in Petaluma, in northern California, say they are monitoring Craigslist in their attempt to crack down on public park cruising. But what happens when everyone’s Craglist M4M postings get yanked? That’s what Queerty reader Luke says is happening some 300 miles south of Petaluma in Bakersfield. Home to everyone’s favorite former State Sen. Roy Ashburn!

Indeed, Luke’s story seems to be true. This is a screenshot of Bakerfield’s anorexic looking M4M posts as of today.

Every ad that has been submitted to the Gay Male Category M4M has been flagged and removed from February 9th through February 11, 2011. Appears that a couple or so ads posted since the 11th have gotten through, but for a category that usually has a minimum of at least 50 posts per day this is really unusual. Ads posted before February 8, 2011 appear to have been gone through by someone or some group and flagged as well. It’s very apparent seeing how few ads there are after going through the different days under the M4M category.

Everyone in the gay community that uses Craigslist is talking about it. Your ad is up for a few minutes and then you receive a notice saying your ad has been flagged and then it is removed. So, I thought I would write to Craigslist to try and find an answer. I did not receive any replies other than auto responses telling me how and where to find help, which was absolutely no help.

I wrote on the Craigslist discussion forums for help as the auto response email suggested and that was no help whatsoever! I received the equivalent of gay bashing by the people that I thought were there to help.

I Googled Craigslist and easily found their public business phone number and posted it to the discussion forum under “Flagging” and the next day my account was put on what they call a “hold”. All my prior posts were removed and I can no longer use my account. It’s amazing how the messenger is the one that gets shot! Grrrrr!!

I have been unable to figure it out, but I have a feeling that the flagging of the M4M posts are from perhaps a gay hate group or religious group here in Bakersfield. The Gay Male Community in Bakersfield has been severely suffering since a local television station KBAK Channel 29 ran an undercover story about the local parks. Police have been and still are harassing any male in the park since that aired even. Even if you are sitting in your car having lunch and you are male expect an undercover police officer to approach you and it will NOT be a pleasant conversation. For a town that says they have budget problems and that is absolutely riddled with real crime (drugs, murder, gangs, assault and etc.) they have the money to assign three or four undercover police to make sure if two adult males talk in the parking lot in one of our parks they are harassed and removed from the park under threats of having their cars impounded and taken to jail!

I just don’t get it??? Why so much hate??? Talk about second class citizens, I do not believe the police in my town feel gays have any rights at all and are free game when it comes to threats/harassment.

Meanwhile, I have written Craigslist a few times trying to find out why they put my account on hold, but they have not replied. Hey, I am no angel and I am sure I have violated their terms of service in the past one way or another, however, going through ads in other cities tonight just about everyone is guilty TOS violations when it comes to reveling pictures and other minor infractions. I am sure that would be their defense for putting my account on hold. I just do not think it is fair to single anyone out, but that is not why they put a hold on my account. My account was not put on “hold” until I wrote them about the Flagging of ALL ads posted in the Gay Male Category M4M and posted their PUBLIC business phone number so others inquiring about the flagging could contact them.

Maybe it’s just more cost-effective for local law enforcement, rather than using Craigslist to figure out where guys are meeting up for anonymous sex, to simply disable the tool they use to find it.

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  • PopSnap

    The only guys who use the m4m section of Craigslist are nasty, overweight, middle-aged married Republican closet cases anyway. You may as well be paying Russian Roulette, except with syringes instead of a gun, one of which has AIDS.

  • Jamie

    Craigslist’s flagging system is the worst, no doubt. Ahh, but what can be done to you can be done to others. Simply start flagging other posts, and eventually, the flaggers who are systematically flagging your posts will get the message. Yes, it renders CL useless for a while… but eventually, all harassment ends. And maybe when everybody stops using CL, Craig will get the message and change his flagging system, ’cause it sure doesn’t work now. Here’s a suggestion, Craig: how about if you want to flag something, you have to be logged in. And how about if you develop an algorithm to flag excessive flaggers and ban them, or at least give them a daily limit to their flagging?

  • Biffmont

    Someone said they were using a new anti-spam filter. Sounds like they have not worked out the kinks.

    CL has also started “ghosting” ads in the M4M section. Basically, you post the ad as normal, get the confirmation email, but your ad never shows up in the M4M section. They say it happens if you post more than once in 48 hrs or trip their spam filter.

  • Lamont

    The majority of people that post ads on Craigslist post all of the time under different names,ages and groups, describe them self as being something they are not. Bakersfield is a small city but growing. I have come to the conclusion that Bakersfield is a very redneck conservative city. There are many married straight men in this town who are on the so called “DL”. A lot of them have to go out of town. I had no choice moving here at the time and hope to move away from this city of haters.

  • Vern

    I’ve been trying to figure out how their flagging system works for other reasons. An “employer” posts a help wanted ad almost daily that in reality is nothing more than an effort to get you to purchase a credit report. I flag the ad every time I see it, but it still doesn’t get pulled and keeps getting posted over and over again. Sounds like they must watch m4m flags more closely? That or it takes multiple flags to get an ad pulled?

  • Pip

    @Biffmont: Maybe its an anti-sperm filter.

  • Jamie

    Craigslist does not reveal or explain their flagging algorithm, but what is commonly known is that it takes multiple flags from different ip addresses. They also use cookies and possibly other technologies to track flagging. I suspect that there is a timing component, as well as the criteria differing dramatically from area to area. That includes the personals section, as well as the pets section, so there is at least a positive effect here (which I do not say to justify their strict standards specifically in M4M areas, as well as others). However, flagging remains completely anonymous, which results in busybodies spending their tremendous idle time trolling M4M categories, gleefully flagging everything. In a metropolitan area like Bakersfield, it would take as few as a half dozen Christianists to essentially wipe the M4M categoires.

    There is a point of clarification necessary: Craigslist themselves do not monitor categories, but leave that task to their community. They do use some language filtering, specifically prohibiting certain words, but it’s done by machine and an evenly applied policy. They do not publish this list of words, but there are of course many sources for the potential list available online.

    Craigslist had agreed to monitor the adult services category in reply to the suit by some 22 state attorneys general regarding prostitution, but ended up removing the category because the AGs realized they had the upper hand when Craigslist tipped their hand, or at least too soon. They were (and are) protected by the common carrier category of law in which they are not held responsible for the traffic that flows through their network so long as they do not monitor that traffic in any way except for when they’re notified of problematic/illegal content. Had Craigslist remained silent when the suit was attempted by the AGs, the adult services category would have remained available as Constitutionally protected speech. It was an egregious example of the violation of our First Amendment rights, and one that I fear we’ll see more of in the near future.

  • Cam

    Facebook will often deny business ads with the words “Gay” or “Drag” etc… in them, then if you complain suddenly the ads go up with no explanation.

  • Jonathan

    Bakersfield is Californias equivalent of Alabama. Christians and Republicans, Yuck. I know a lesbian couple who moved there from Alameda and they were back in 12 months. They hated it and were tired of Christians treating them like crap.

  • postingexpert


    I post ads regularly on numerous classifieds and I’ve been very good at it for a long time.

    But over the last year or so with all the changes Craigslist has made I was really struggling with the “Gran Daddy of ’em all”

    But it all got turned around when a good friend of mine introduced me to this cutting edge method to conquer frequent flagging and ghosting on Craigslist.

    I’m so glad I listened to her. Now I have my Craigslist posting mojo back! My ads are mostly all live and the leads are flowing in again.

    Ask me how!

    Cris May
    Entrepreneur & Ad Posting Expert

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