Publicity stunts aren’t the same as policy changes.
Two months ago Backpage.com, an online classifieds website that’s under scrutiny from the federal government for its facilitation of sex trafficking and prostitution, “shut down” the section on its website entitled “adult services.”
This change occurred the night before Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and founders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, were scheduled to testify to the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in their investigation into sex trafficking occurring via their website.
At the hearing, Backpage executives refused to testify.
Similar to Craigslist, Backpage received positive media feedback after it “blocked” its adult services page.
However, also similar to Craigslist, removing the adult services page was a publicity stunt unaccompanied by any systemic changes to prevent commercial sexual exploitation on its website.
Backpage continues to facilitate the sale of women, men, and children for sex on its website in other segments of the website.
Reporters from Action News Jax, in Jacksonville Florida, investigated and found over 60 ads for massages posted on Backpage’s Jacksonville site on Wednesday alone.
The descriptions were clearly not for legitimate therapeutic massages.
The Action News Jax team reported:
A quick search of the massage section yields post after post for “new young and hot girls” and “yummy complete body rub.”
One post specified it’s a “mutual touch” massage.
The “dating” section is even more vulgar, with explicit photos and intimate descriptions.
“It’s just a façade that it’s been shut down,” said Action News Jax crime & safety expert Ken Jefferson.
Sex ads have simply migrated to new sections on the Backpage website.
It is clear that Backpage.com is not acting in good faith to remove the sexual exploitation running rampant on its website.
To learn more, and take action against Backpage, visit endsexualexploitation.org/backpage.