Hours after the Senate subcommittee on Investigations released their report on Backpage.com, the classified ad listing platform has shut down their Adult section.
Senate Backpage.com Investigation
On Tuesday, the US government released their investigative report into Backpage.com. Led by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the US Senate titled their report “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking”.
Inside the 53 page report, the Senate committee reveals that 73% of all child-trafficking reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) were found on the website. In addition, the report goes on to call Backpage the center of “human trafficking, especially the trafficking of minors.”
The report goes on to assert that the company began editing “adult” ads on the website, deleting incriminating words, and coaching users how to post “clean” ads for illegal business transactions. The US Senate subcommittee also argues that the company knew that the website facilitated child sex trafficking.
Following the report, the website has shut down their “Adult” ad section for users in the United States. In addition, the platform has placed the word “CENSORED” over adult section saying the ads were removed due to “unconstitutional government censorship.”
Launched in 2004, Backpage is similar to Craigslist as the website offers classified listings featuring jobs, real estate and other services. By 2011, the website was the 2nd largest classified advertisement listing company in the US following Craigslist.
Then in 2016, the company’s Dallas headquarters were raided and Backpage’s CEO, Carl Ferrer, was arrested on felony charges of pimping conspiracy, pimping a minor and attempted pimping of a minor. This came after a three year investigation by the California Department of Justice. California’s attorney general explained that most of the company’s profit came from users who posted ads in the “Adult” section.
It’s important to point out that child sex trafficking is on the rise. As the the Senate report highlights, the NMEC reported an 846% increase from 2010 to 2015 in the number of suspected child sex trafficking reports. The NMEC goes on to say that child sex traffickers are increasingly using the the Internet to sell children for sex.