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 McNamara (Halverson)

Vice President and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation

Haley McNamara (formerly Halverson) is the Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation in the UK, and a Vice President at the U.S. based National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She leads international efforts and joint campaigns to improve policies and education among global governing bodies, citizenry, and corporations regarding the full web of sexual exploitation issues. Her advocacy work has contributed to policy improvements in social media, online advertising, retail, and hotel industries. She has advocated at the United Nations, led international coalition campaigns, presented to Danish, Croatian, Colombian and Rwandan government officials, and more

She is a former member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

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, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

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 a cultural media outlet. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, 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 internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, 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.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, FoxNews.com, Washington Examiner, Townhall.com, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and ViolenceShe has also contributed to a digital middle school curriculum regarding the links between sex trafficking and pornography as well as the public health impacts of sex trafficking.

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