An ABC news crew startled Craigslist founder Craig Newmark when they approached him on the street outside his San Francisco home, cameras running, and asked for comment on a big problem with Craiglist.
The site was found to be reselling recalled items, some of them dangerous to children, particularly a Bumbo baby seat linked to several horrific infant accidents, according to an ABC News investigation involving 17 ABC stations across the country.
Startled by the cameras, Newmark refused comment and walked away. He added that he’s no longer in charge of day-to-day operations at the company he founded.
He was extremely polite throughout the whole incident, even stopping to greet one of the ABC crew as he left.
But his action is symbolic of Craigslist’s part in a big problem.
Every year, more than 400 manufacturers issue recalls on products, ABC reports. But that doesn’t mean that those items magically disappear from use. They are being resold pretty freely on Craigslist, according to this investigation.
eBay and Amazon use technology that block people from advertising recalled items on their sites. When ABC News tried to post an ad for the recalled version of the Bumbo baby seat, Amazon blocked the listing immediately and eBay pulled it down 24 hours later.
But on Craigslist, the ad remained until ABC pulled it down itself. Plus, ABC News was able to buy the recalled Bumbo baby seat on Craigslist “again and again,” it reported.
A Craigslist spokesperson told ABC that selling recalled products is against Craigslist terms of service, and that users can alert Craigslist if they notice a recalled item on the site.
The spokesperson also said that the site uses an automated system to help prevent ads of recalled items.
But the government’s new top safety advocate isn’t buying that.
The chairman of the Consumer Safety Product Commission, Elliot Kaye, who took the job in July, slammed Craigslist in a TV interview as being “morally irresponsible” for not putting in strong technology filters that block the sale of recalled products.
“They do not and will not do it to date,” said Kaye. His office has made repeated requests for Craigslist to use the same filters used by Amazon and eBay.
Kaye also wants manufacturers to step it up and do more to make consumers aware of recalled items.
We reached out to Craigslist for comment and will update when we hear back.
The results of this investigation, “Recall Roulette” will air Friday, November 21 on “20/20” at 10 p.m. ET.
ABC News also reported on the investigation on Good Morning America, which we’ve posted below.
At 2:06 in the video, the report delves into Craigslist’s role in the problem and at 2:47, Brian Ross, ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent, surprises Newman outside his home.