March 24, 2017

Investigative Reporters Find Sex Ads Remain on Backpage.com, After Site “Shuts Down” Adult Section

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.

Watch the news report video here:

Haley Halverson

Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach

Haley Halverson is the Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she develops and executes national campaigns to change policies and raise awareness. Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and more. She is the host of the “Sexploitation?” podcast and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts at Johns Hopkins University.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for Media Research Center. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) where she double majored in Politics and interdisciplinary religious studies, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internship experiences in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Post, BBC News, Fox News, the Washington Post, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, the Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

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