The internet got very interesting today when Backpage decided to shut down their adult section, claiming government censure. For those unfamiliar with the very popular website, like craigslist, it’s a marketplace. Also like Craigslist used to have, Backpage has had a very active adult section where people traded and sold services that weren’t exactly legal.
Over the years, without any real advertisement, Backpage became the go to place to find a woman, no matter what city or state you were in. Coming from the adult entertainment industry myself, I have personally known many women who have used Backpage as a place to meet men and make money. Until today, I had never even been on the site, terrified that my IP address would be recorded and I might fall into the cache of women being watched by the federal government.
There’s little chance that the actions of these women and their “clients” have not been tracked and documented. The federal government has had an eye on Backpage and its adult services since Craigslist shut down their adult section in 2010 after multiple prostitutes had been killed by Phillip Markoff who was dubbed the “Craigslist Killer.”
Craigslist had been constantly fighting off government interference for years before they finally shut the adult services section down . The states attorney general and human trafficking groups had repeated complaints about the adult services section of the site which led to congressional hearings being held. When Craigslist shut down the adult services section many people immediately logged on to Backpage and kept moving along as if nothing happened. When Craigslist first removed the adult services section it replaced it with the word “censored” just as Backpage did.
Those who logged in to Backpage today looking for an afternoon quickie or someone to set up a date with later tonight found the word “censored” beneath the categories for escorts, body rubs and other services listed under adult services. If they thought censored meant that they would have to go through an age verification process or something they found out immediately from clicking any category that the next page showed the following message:
The government has unconstitutionally censored this content. What happened? Find out
Donate to Children of the Night, an organization dedicated to rescuing children from prostitution.
In a statement released today Backpage asserts that the adult section was closed as a result of years long of interference by the federal government. The maintains that it has worked diligently with state ad federal officers to aide in capture of those who have used the site for human trafficking and notes that closing down their adult services section will not stop the problem of human trafficking in America.
Read the whole statement from Backpage
Backpage shut down their adult services right before the sites founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin, CEO, Carl Ferrer are set to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ subcommittee on investigations.
The committee has reviewed more than 1.1-million pages of documents subpoenaed from Backpage, Monday the senate committee issue a 53-page report on its finding. and revealing that the site knowingly facilitated prostitution and child sex trafficking. Before it moved to this drastic measure of censoring the adult services section, Backpage had attempted to moderate the ads that blatantly advertised prostitution.
Lacey, Larkin, and Ferrer luckily dodged prosecution in December when states attorney general Kamala Harris filed pimping charges against them for earning revenue from prostitutes well as pimping women and small children out. as . The judge threw the case out of court citing the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a federal statute that protects website operators from liability involving the content of users’ ads. Lacy and larkin have said they plan to sue Harris for malicious prosecution and that in contrast to the senate report, they sold their interests in Backpage two years ago.