I wanted to share this blog that Amanda Kloer recently wrote regarding Backpage.com. I have made reference to this website a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. I know that for the last couple of months everyone has been attacking Craigslist. At this time because of all of the controversy surrounding the site, Craisglist shut down it’s adult services section. However, while everyone focused on one website, who actually cooperated with law enforcement on sex trafficking investigations, another website doing the same thing (or worse in my opinion) was still profiting from the adult services section. Backpage.com is known to not want to cooperate with anyone. And even now that several Attorney’s Generals have requested for Backpage.com to follow in the footsteps of Craigslist, the owners of this site have said “no”.
It’s time to rally up the troops and begin another fight against a website that has advertised victims of sex trafficking on numerous occasions. This fight is going to be a lot tougher that the fight against Craigslist was as the owners of Craisglist actually had a heart. We must not become complacent now that Craigslist shut down it”s adult services section. We may have won a battle but have not won the war against sex trafficking!
Backpage.com Refuses Attorneys General’s Requests to Close Adult Ad Section
by Amanda Kloer September 23, 2010 @ 06:00AM PT Topics: Child Prostitution, Child Trafficking, Sex Trafficking Craigslist may no longer be able to cry “scapegoat,” as the attorneys general from twenty-one state have now asked Backpage.com to shut down their adult services section to prevent human trafficking. But unlike Craigslist, Backpage owners Village Voice Media have flat-out said “no.” Will you ask them to reconsider?
This week, attorneys general from twenty-one states sent a letter to Village Voice Media, saying that if they can’t responsibly monitor their adult ad section to prevent its use by pimps and traffickers, they should remove it. It was four more attorneys general than wrote to Craigslist with the same request just days before the site complied. In addition to feeling the heat from law enforcement agents around the country, Backpage is the target of a lawsuit from a human trafficking survivor and a petition signed by over 4,000 Change.org readers. Their adult ads page has had documented cases of children sold for sex, and some advocates are concerned pimps now banned from Craigslist are moving victims to Backpage.
Backpage’s response? Sucks for you, but not our fault. In one press release, they called the lawsuit filed by a 14-year-old girl who was sold for prostitution on Backpage, “a lie fabricated by a trial lawyer looking for a payday.” They claim law enforcement has only asked them to cooperate in a handful of cases involving underage girls sold on the site, and that they’ve complied. And in a second press release, they “respectfully decline[d] the recent demand by a group of 21 state attorneys general” to shut down their adult ads. They claim that what they’re doing to prevent misuse, which doesn’t include manual screening of ads or transparent cooperation with NGOs or law enforcement, is enough. And of course, they paint asking them to take any more responsibility for the ease with which criminals exploit children on their site as “censorship.”
It took several years of efforts by a vast number of groups before Craigslist made a change. Is Village Voice Media shaping up to be an even tougher foe? How many cases of children being sold on their site, how many lawsuits, how many pleas from law enforcement and anti-trafficking organizations will it take for them the rethink their hard “no?” How many more signatures until they respond? Will yours be the final one needed?