Backpage.com closes ‘sex trafficking' ads amid US Senate probe
Jan 10, 2017 10:34 AM EST
The classified advertising site Backpage.com had to close its adult advertising section in the U.S. on Monday due to government pressure. This after a US Senate panel released a report alleging that Backpage.com concealed criminal activity, which would have exposed prostitution and child sex trafficking. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hears the report Tuesday morning.
U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Rob Portman declared that their subcommittee found that Backpage had been more involved in sex trafficking than previously known, thus, the response of the online company wasn't to deny what the senators said.
Backpage believes there is censorship by the government
Backpage said that scrutiny of the site by government officials has made it too costly to keep operating the adult section. The online company declared that the decision was unconstitutional government censorship.
Backpage stated that for years the legal system was protecting the freedom of speech, but new government tactics have made the company remove the content in the U.S.
Backpage has been the target of many lawsuits and investigations in the last years focusing on its adult ads, and its founders and executives are currently fighting money laundering and pimping charges in California.
The federal Communications Decency Act provides immunity to website operators that publish third-party content online.
Backpage grew significantly in the adult market
Backpage was launched in 2004 and expanded significantly six years later when Craigslist shut down its adult advertising section.
The ads for escorts, body-rubs and adult entertainment were an important source of revenue for Backpage, which operates like Craigslist, with users paying to advertise a range of goods and services.