MISC. 10


Craigslist’s terms of use are among the most draconian of those surveyed. It is also not afraid to enforce them to try to stamp out spam and to maintain its market position in the face of competition. Although the company earns deserved praise from the EFF for being a “good digital citizen”, it should give some serious thought to making its terms of use more balanced.

Data Use

When you post something on Craigslist, you grant the company extensive rights to the content of your post. The license is irrevocable (meaning that it continues even if you delete the post), sub-licensable (meaning that Craigslist can transfer or sell the content to a third party) and extends to every possible use. Craigslist relies on this license when it goes after software developers who attempt to use its data. For example, Craigslist attempted to shut down PadMapper, an app that presents Craigslist apartment listings on a map. (PadMapper has now found a clever workaround.)

Craigslist even went as far recently as making the license exclusive. This meant that if you posted something on Craigslist and then used the same description or photo on another site, Craigslist could sue you. This obviously absurd provision was soon deleted. But the license remains too broad. Craigslist does not need such extensive rights to carry out its service.

SCORE: 16 / 25
  • Craigslist can do pretty much anything it wants with content you submit

Data Disclosure

Craigslist does not have a policy for responding to government requests for data and does not publish statistics about such requests.

SCORE: 10 / 25
  • Craigslist is not transparent about government data requests

Amendment & Termination

There are no concessions to users here. Craigslist may post changes to the terms of use at any time without notice and can prevent a user from accessing Craigslist for any reason at any time.

SCORE: 9 / 25
  • These provisions are drafted in Craigslist's favor


Craigslist’s terms of use is unique in containing a “liquidated damages” provision. This means that for certain types of violations, you agree to pay Craigslist a specified amount of money. The violations include:

  • Flagging a post “without a personal, good-faith belief that the content violates the TOU” (you owe Craigslist $25)
  • Posting in the wrong category ($25)
  • Using software that automates making posts ($50)
  • Posting content that violates Craigslist guidelines ($100)
  • Posting illegal, offensive or malicious content ($1,000)
  • Copying, aggregating or distributing content posted on Craigslist ($25,000)

Craigslist is probably not targeting individual users with these provisions but rather companies that are in the business of trying to take commercial advantage of Craigslist’s features (by systematically flagging their competitors’ posts, duplicating their own posts in multiple categories, scraping the Craigslist site for data, etc.) The company has actually had some success in using these provisions to obtain judgments against the distributors of automated posting software. But if Craigslist is not targeting casual users, they should be excluded; we suggest that the liquidated damages kick in only for serial violators of the terms of use.

SCORE: 10 / 25
  • You owe Craigslist "liquidated damages" for breaching various terms