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[This Just In]



Boston’s housing crunch has eased off lately, or so we’ve been told. How, then, to explain the listing — posted on November 13 — on the Internet bulletin board We quote: "Looking for apt. in Boston area will give tit-f**k (I have 44DD’s) and a nice slow ..." Well, you get the picture. The question is, could someone really be so eager to find an apartment that she would offer the services of her double-Ds to do so? We called founder Craig Newmark.

"It could be real, or it could be a joke of some sort," Newmark says. "The point is, it went a little too far."

With 50,000 postings pouring in each week — ranging from housing to services to buy-and-sell — has become something of an unmanageable entity, at least in terms of maintaining fixed standards of decency. "There are," Newmark says, "just too many for us to look at." To get around this, the site offers users a way to flag offending entries. "We get hundreds of those a week," Newmark says. "We try to review each flag in the best conscience we can." also allows users to flag postings they like — the cream of which are entered into a hall of fame. The entries range from the ridiculous to the obscene. There’s the guy who claims to have 48 hours to live ("On my short list of things to do before I pass, I would like to have two girls team up and slap my ass.... I need a quick response as I have many things that need to get done before Thursday"); the guy who says he needs "info on how to be a naked human sushi platter" ("Where does the wasabi go? The belly button just seems wrong"); and the guy who poses the question: "Got monkeys?" ("I am a caretaker at the S.F. Zoo.... I am a completely heterosexual male who loves the site [sic] of naked women, but this monkey made me feel the way no other woman has").

"We figure the Internet is good for useful stuff and good for entertaining stuff," says Newmark. "So we accept as much as we can. That’s what the Internet is all about: everyone gets a voice. We prefer to err on the side of free speech."

But there are, as Newmark points out, limits to free speech. "We look for people who are harassing each other. We can track them down and do the right thing, whatever that means." He continues: "One night, I got a call from the cops saying someone had contacted them about a suicide note on the site. I was able to give the cops a good idea how to find him. It turned out to be a writer trawling for stories."

And then, of course, there’s the apartment hunter with the 44DDs. "That one was deleted," Newmark says. "Frankly, I expected it to be deleted. It was a little too much. We often stick our necks out for free speech. Some battles we’re ready to fight, some we’re not."

Issue Date: November 15 - 22, 2001

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