ABC News(NEW YORK) — The chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Elliot Kaye, says the online ad site Craigslist is “morally irresponsible” for its failure to do what other sites do to block the sale of defective products under government recall.
“They do not and will not do it to date,” said Kaye, despite repeated requests from commission officials to set up the same filters used by Amazon and eBay to prevent recalled items from being posted.
Kaye said the result is the easy availability of items that could injure or kill children.
“I think it is irresponsible,” Kay told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast Friday night on World News with David Muir and 20/20.
Craigslist founder Craig Newmark refused to answer questions about the site’s refusal, saying he was only a “customer service representative” at the company that has made him a multi-millionaire.
An ABC News investigation, conducted with 17 ABC stations across the country, found the Craigslist site loaded with items that are illegal to sell because they have been recalled for safety defects.
Among the potentially dangerous items discovered on the Craigslist site was a Bumbo baby seat linked to a series of accidents in which infants fractured their skulls or suffered other serious injuries.
The Bumbo was later recalled, and owners were offered a safety belt, but the original version continues to be offered for re-sale on Craigslist.
When ABC News attempted to list the recalled version of the Bumbo on Amazon it was immediately blocked. On eBay, the listing was removed by the site 24 hours after we posted it.
But the Craigslist ad ABC News posted for the recalled item remained on the site for a week until we took it down on our own.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission praised Amazon and eBay for acting “responsibly.”
“They filter hundreds and thousands of online product notices to make sure with certain tags, make sure that these products are not up there,” Kaye said.
Craigslist, he said, “will not do it, has not done it, but should do it.”
In a written statement, the Washington government relations executive for Craigslist, William C. Powell, said the site has an automated system to help prevent posting of recalled items and also “provides a system where users can flag postings advertising recalled items for removal.” (Click here to read Powell’s statement in full.)
The spokesperson said Craigslist prohibits the sale of recalled items.
But the ABC News investigation found that the prohibition of recalled items is on line 15 of a 22 line-long list of a wide range of prohibited categories.
CPSC chairman Kaye said the list was likely seen by very few other than “the lawyer who drafted it.”
“I still think it’s irresponsible not to join in with the rest of the community who have certainly recognized that they should take action in this arena,” he said.
Craig Newmark and Craigslist came under similar criticism five years ago over its policy of allowing postings that appeared to be ads for prostitution, and were linked to several murders.
At the time, Newmark addressed the issue in an interview with ABC News, saying, “If an ad on our site appears which is wrong for any reason, if it is criminal, we don’t want that on our site.”
Craigslist later dropped its adult service section.
Five years later, Newmark refused to address the issue of ads for the illegal sale of recalled items, saying he was no longer involved in the management of the company is only a customer service representative.
After asking for the name of the ABC News director, he walked away from ABC News cameras.
To see if a product you’ve purchased has been recalled, go to www.SaferProducts.gov.
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