Classifieds Wars: Craigslist, Oodle Fight Over Safety

In its latest attempt to challenge Craigslist, Oodle is trying to portray the rival site as a stomping ground for criminals — and Craigslist is not pleased. Oodle put out a report with classifieds research firm AIM Group this morning noting that 330 crimes, including 43 violent ones, were tied to interactions on Craigslist over the last year. Oodle called its rival a “cesspool of crime” and posted an infographic titled “Mayhem On Craigslist” complete with an image of a knife-wielding killer.

In response, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster (who has never minced words; see his comments on CNN reporter Amber Lyon here, for instance) calls Oodle’s report a “false (and defamatory) paid-for editorial” and defines Oodle for his blog readers “since few have heard of it.” Buckmaster also notes that 300 crimes is a tiny fraction of the “BILLIONS of human interactions” he says Craigslist generates a year.

Craigslist’s rivals however seem to believe that just the perception of the site as unsafe may be its achilees’ heel. In relaunching its classifieds site last spring, for instance, eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) made a point of saying its site was “family-friendly” and had no “adult-related content” — in contrast to the erotic services ads that appeared on Craigslist. Just today, Silicon Alley Insider profiled a new startup designed for “parents who are scared of Craigslist.” And, Oodle, for its part, notes that “safety is a top priority” and that users on its site “use their real identity.”

So far, their efforts have had no impact on Craigslist’s dominance. As of January, Craigslist had more than 53 million monthly unique visitors in the U.S., up 12 percent from the year before, according to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR). The number two player was Dominion Enterprises (which, among other properties, owns with 11 million. Oodle was third with 3.5 million.