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Backpage.com is under fire in the US now, will the UK be next?

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It was bound to happen, and claims of trafficking and pimping underaged girls abound, but most of the criticism comes from 'the usual suspects' so it is hard to determine where the truth lies.  I am not familiar with their US postings but their UK and Thailand postings seem to be pretty innocuous.  In any case, here is the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/07/us/carl-ferrer-backpage-ceo-is-arrested.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

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Before these happenings, there was a live thread on another forum started by an escort who had lost £3000 to them a while ago and was now having a similar thing happen again. (She said BP was by far the most effective advertising for her so went back to using it)

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Interesting article at http://reason.com/blog/2016/10/06/backpagecom-ceo-carl-ferrer-arrested commenting on the arrest of Backpage's CEO, Carl Ferrer. Here's a key extract:

children are actually being harmed by actions like Ferrer's arrest. I've written extensively about Backpage over the past few years, as well as about U.S. sex-trafficking investigations. While Backpage doesn't screen all its ads, it does employ people to monitor the adult section. And any ads suspected of containing anyone under 18 are reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Countless investigations into child sex-trafficking in the U.S. have been solved with Backpage's help, as investigators all over the country have openly attested.

Political opponents of the site like to imagine that without it, sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of minors would simply cease. But the closure of sites like Backpage , where ads for adult sex workers and adults selling totally non-sex related things far outnumber any ads for illegal activity, wind up sending both independent sex workers and sexual exploiters to more underground venues or out onto the streets—places where there's no paper trail and no one screening anything or reporting any suspicious activity to the government.

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In an article in yesteday's Guardian entitled  Backpage CEO's arrest hurts free speech and sex workers' rights, advocates say, Sam Levin gives a voice to people who will be adversely affected by the war on Backpage and who believe that:

  • Backpage is a safe way for sex workers to advertise services and vet clients, and that without it, some would be working on the streets, which can be significantly more dangerous
  • This has nothing to do with people being exploited. It’s a political ploy.  The arrest is an election-year stunt, not a good-faith action by law enforcement. 
  • Backpage has policies against “illegal content” and removes ads when contacted by police.
  • Targeting Backpage is a misguided approach that conflates trafficking with adult sex work.
  • Closing the site won’t eliminate any exploitation, but simply move it further to the margins.
  • Backpage allows sex workers to control their own businesses online without having to rely on pimps or work in the streets.
  • Workers also use the site to warn each other about dangerous or violent clients. Often that can be the only way for workers to protect themselves since reporting to police can get them arrested for prostitution. One woman who was robbed by a man, posted his name and photo on the site.  Kimberlee Cline, a sex worker based in Sacramento, said Backpage allows her to get references from other workers about whether a certain client is safe, she said. “It’s absolutely vital.”
  • The saddest part of all of this is the amount of time and energy and resources they are spending that are supposedly intended to protect real victims of sexual exploitation. These efforts are only about arresting sex workers, not stopping human trafficking
  • Sometimes traffickers can be exposed and arrested through Backpage. “Why would the government want to shut down a resource that they can use to actually go after people who are selling minors?” said Norma Jean Almodovar, a California sex worker activist.
  • if California prosecutors were serious about supporting victims, they would have done a much better job handling the recent scandal in which more than a dozen police officers throughout the Bay Area have been accused of exploiting and paying a teenager for sex. While the state has aggressively targeted the Backpage CEO, many of the officers in the Bay Area case have avoided serious consequences. “You’ve got cops that are wildly abusing sex workers and nothing happens to them,” Norma Jean Almodovar, a California sex worker activist said. “That says you really don’t care about us at all.”

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According to this article in USA Today:

....authorities interviewed more than a half dozen sex trafficking victims who confirmed they paid Backpage to post ads on the web site promoting prostitution.

So the women paid for ads on Backpage for themselves, and that means they're trafficked?

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Sorry, I am not well informed on this, but isn't California in USA? And is that the same USA that takes Donald Trump seriously. And would that be the same California that is the world's largest porn movie centre (sorry, center!)?

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Regular LA Vlogger Nicole Lynn makes a good defence of Backpage in this video.

.

Edited by Carnival

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Backpage's owners have been released on bail.

http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/10/14/backpage-com-owners-post-bail-in-california-pimping-case/

All three men appeared in court Wednesday, but they did not enter a plea. They also are scheduled for a November 16 hearing where defense attorneys plan to argue against the complaint, saying it violates their clients’ First Amendment rights.

http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article108074342.html

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On 16/10/2016 at 9:49 PM, Carnival said:

Backpage's owners have been released on bail.

http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/10/14/backpage-com-owners-post-bail-in-california-pimping-case/

All three men appeared in court Wednesday, but they did not enter a plea. They also are scheduled for a November 16 hearing where defense attorneys plan to argue against the complaint, saying it violates their clients’ First Amendment rights.

http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article108074342.html

On that day next week there will be a rally outside the courthouse in solidarity with all who depend on BackPage and other online advertising vehicles for survival, followed by a press conference with BackPage advertisers who, in their own words, will explain how BackPage helps to keep them safe. Featured speakers will be BackPage advertisers from Los Angeles to Seattle and beyond.

More details at http://www.swopsacramento.org/call-to-action/

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On 09/10/2016 at 8:51 PM, Dave451 said:

Sorry, I am not well informed on this, but isn't California in USA? And is that the same USA that takes Donald Trump seriously. And would that be the same California that is the world's largest porn movie centre (sorry, center!)?

Well, at least it is the same California that resoundingly voted down Proposition 60, which would have driven Porn Producers and performers out of the state!

Edited by Irgendeiner
typos!

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California Judge Issues Tentative Ruling, Throws Out Criminal Charges Against CEO and Former Owners of Backpage.com

In an apparent rebuke of California Attorney General and U.S. Senator-elect Kamala Harris, a Sacramento judge has found in favor of the current CEO and two former owners of online classified site Backpage.com, granting a tentative ruling dismissing criminal charges against the three men on Wednesday, hours before oral arguments are to occur.

More at http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/california-judge-issues-tentative-ruling-throws-out-criminal-charges-against-ceo-and-former-owners-of-backpagecom-8833518

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This from yesterday's Mercury News:

Backpage wins court fight over pimping charges

The owners and the CEO of controversial website Backpage were exonerated of pimping and other felony charges Friday in a case that had threatened the foundations of Google Search, Facebook, Twitter and other hugely popular websites that publish third-party content.

That threat still exists, as California Attorney General Kamala Harris may appeal Friday’s decision by a Superior Court judge in Sacramento.

More detail at http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/12/09/backpage-wins-court-fight-over-pimping-charges-in-case-with-implications-for-tech/

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This was posted yesterday on TechDirt:

Kamala Harris Files Brand New Criminal Charges Against Backpage Execs After Last Ones Were Tossed Out

Never let it be said that Kamala Harris gives up after being told her totally bogus legal crusade is totally bogus. She's now filed brand new charges against the execs who run Backpage.com -- despite having the very same lawsuit thrown out a few weeks ago.

More at https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161223/15495736339/merry-christmas-kamala-harris-files-brand-new-criminal-charges-against-backpage-execs-after-last-ones-were-tossed-out.shtml

 

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Despite Backpage winning its court case in Califormia, it seems that they have been forced to remove all the ads in their "Adult" section. If you click on any of the "Adult" headings you now get this message:

CENSORED
The government has unconstitutionally censored this content. What happened? Find out
Use your social media to support #FREESPEECH.
Donate to Children of the Night, an organization dedicated to rescuing children from prostitution.
 
I think this press release from Backpage issued yesterday is worth reproducing in full:
 
Press Release: Backpage.com Removes Adult Content Due to Unconstitutional Government Censorship....Vows to Fight First Amendment Battles
 
January 9, 2017
 
Washington, D.C. - As the direct result of unconstitutional government censorship, Backpage.com has removed its Adult content section from the highly popular classified website, effective immediately. For years, the legal system protecting freedom of speech prevailed, but new government tactics, including pressuring credit card companies to cease doing business with Backpage, have left the company with no other choice but to remove the content in the United States.

As federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner has described, the goal is either to “suffocate” Backpage out of existence or use the awesome powers of the government to force Backpage to follow in the footsteps of Craigslist and abandon its Adult advertising section. Judge Posner described such tactics as “a formula for permitting unauthorized, unregulated, foolproof, lawless government coercion.”

“It's a sad day for America's children victimized by prostitution,” said Dr. Lois Lee, Founder and President, Children of the Night, a leading national hotline and shelter program for victims of sex trafficking based in Los Angeles. “Backpage.com was a critical investigative tool depended on by America's vice detectives and agents in the field to locate and recover missing children and to arrest and successfully prosecute the pimps who prostitute children.” She added, “The ability to search for and track potentially exploited children on a website and have the website bend over backwards to help and cooperate with police the way Backpage did was totally unique.  It not only made law enforcement's job easier, it made them much more effective at rescuing kids and convicting pimps.”

Backpage.com was created thirteen years ago by Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, through their newspaper company, New Times Media, to compete with Craigslist, the nation’s largest online classified ad platform. Larkin and Lacey were pioneers in independent journalism, establishing Village Voice Media in 1970 to provide alternative news coverage of the Vietnam war and later served as editor and publisher of twenty weekly newspapers.

As The Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have observed, the Senate subcommittee has engaged in an “invasive, burdensome inquiry into Backpage.com’s editorial practices [that] creates an intense chilling effect, not only for Backpage but for any website operator seeking to define their own editorial viewpoint and moderation procedures for the third-party content they host.”

This will not end the fight for online freedom of speech. Backpage.com will continue to pursue its efforts in court to vindicate its First Amendment rights and those of other online platforms for third party expression.

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From yesterday's Los Angeles Times:

Backpage shuts down adult section, citing government pressure and unlawful censorship campaign

Matt Hamilton

Backpage.com, one of the world’s largest classified ad websites and a frequent target in the political battle against sex trafficking, closed its adult ads section Monday in the United States, claiming to be the victim of a government witch hunt.

The extraordinary move came shortly after the release of a scathing U.S. Senate report that accused Backpage of hiding criminal activity by deleting terms from ads that indicated sex trafficking or prostitution, including of children.

The abrupt closure came on the eve of the scheduled testimony of Backpage’s founders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, and the site’s CEO, Carl Ferrer, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ subcommittee on investigations.

The Senate panel issued the report after an acrimonious investigation. Backpage balked at a subpoena to turn over company materials to investigators, but the panel secured a federal court order to force compliance.

The Senate committee’s review of the company documents, totaling more than 1.1-million pages, found evidence that Backpage knowingly facilitated prostitution and child sex trafficking, according to the report. The business was highly profitable and experienced explosive growth, from $5.3 million in gross revenue in 2008 to $135 million in 2014.

To keep problematic ads online, the company edited them. One moderator said he removed material that was obviously indicative of prostitution but the post remained published. According to the report, the moderator testified under oath: “[M]y responsibility was to make the ads OK to run live on the site, because having to get rid of the ad altogether was bad for business.”

It was common knowledge at the company that ads in the adult section were for prostitution, one moderator said, adding that a co-worker used the site to procure prostitutes, according to the report.

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who led the bipartisan Senate investigation into the website, said Backpage’s move to shutter its adult ads attested to the damning evidence their team uncovered.

“We reported the evidence that Backpage has been far more complicit in online sex trafficking than anyone previously knew,” they said in a statement.

“Backpage’s response wasn’t to deny what we said. It was to shut down their site. That’s not 'censorship' — it’s validation of our findings.”

By late Monday, visitors to Backpage saw “censored” tags in red font under the adult section’s menu of escorts, body rubs and strippers. Other sections remained operative, including for cars, real estate and childcare.

Online, Backpage published full statements from the company as well as supporters who view government efforts to shutter the website as unlawful attempts to stifle free speech.

“Like the decision by Craigslist to remove its adult category in 2010, this announcement is the culmination of years of effort by government at various levels to exert pressure on Backpage.com and to make it too costly to continue,” Backpage said.

The website also said that the end of its adult ads section would do little to end human trafficking. 

Lois Lee, founder of Children of the Night, a Van Nuys-based nonprofit that rescues children from sex work, credited Backpage with helping detectives locate missing or exploited children and ultimately prosecute pimps. She lamented the end of the site as a “critical investigative tool.”

“It's a sad day for America's children victimized by prostitution,” Lee said in a statement.

The site has long positioned itself as a champion of online speech freedoms and has relied on the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a federal statute that immunizes website operators from the content of users’ ads.

A Sacramento County judge cited the law in December when he tossed out pimping charges filed against Lacey, Larkin and Ferrer by former state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris. A new set of charges was filed in late December, accusing the trio of laundering earnings from escorts as well as pimping children and adult women.

In a separate statement, Lacey and Larkin congratulated their efforts to augment law that protects online speech and privacy rights, and recounted their years of legal battles, including the recent prosecution attempt by Harris.

The men said they intend to sue Harris, who has since been elected to the Senate, for bringing the case despite knowing it “had no basis in law.”

Lacey and Larkin — the former owners of alternative weekly newspapers such as Phoenix New Times and the Village Voice — also said they sold their ownership interest in Backpage two years ago, contradicting the Senate report. The congressional investigation report states that Larkin and Lackey retain “significant financial and operational control over Backpage.”

“Today, the censors have prevailed. We get it,” the men said in their statement. 

“But the shutdown of Backpage’s adult classified advertising is an assault on the 1st Amendment. We maintain hope for a more robust and unbowed Internet in the future.”

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US politics is designed to confuse me! Kamala (the sort of name a WG might use?) Harris, the ex-AG of California, now newly elected Senator, who has been hounding Backpage and its principals is a Democrat! I'd always understood that Democrats were liberals, and California the most liberal of states, but ...

I think it is suggested that Kamala saw her highly public attack on Backpage might win votes?

Whatever, a sad result, which completely ignores Backpage's real contribution to stopping child abuse.

 

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These people don't give a damn about the suffering they might cause, it's done in moral outrage, vote winning, or both.

Odd place the US,  it's a lot to do with the numbers of Christians.  They should pay a bit more attention to what Jesus is supposed to have stood for.

 

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5 hours ago, Irgendeiner said:

US politics is designed to confuse me! Kamala (the sort of name a WG might use?) Harris, the ex-AG of California, now newly elected Senator, who has been hounding Backpage and its principals is a Democrat! I'd always understood that Democrats were liberals, and California the most liberal of states, but ...

I think it is suggested that Kamala saw her highly public attack on Backpage might win votes?

Whatever, a sad result, which completely ignores Backpage's real contribution to stopping child abuse.

 

This is Hillary's view on the matter:

"I do not approve of legalized prostitution or any kind of prostitution. It is something that I personally believe is demeaning to women. I have worked against it and I have certainly taken a very strong stand against what happens in many parts of the world where young girls and women are forced into prostitution against their wills. I understand Nevada has a regulated system and it is within the authority of the state. So that is not a federal issue that we will have any role to play in when I am president. But I would obviously speak out against prostitution and try to persuade women that it is not --- even in a regulated system -- necessarily a good way to try to make a living. Let's try to find other jobs that can be there for women who are looking for a good way to support themselves and their families."

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3 hours ago, Colonel Bonkers said:

This is Hillary's view on the matter:

"I do not approve of legalized prostitution or any kind of prostitution. It is something that I personally believe is demeaning to women. I have worked against it and I have certainly taken a very strong stand against what happens in many parts of the world where young girls and women are forced into prostitution against their wills. I understand Nevada has a regulated system and it is within the authority of the state. So that is not a federal issue that we will have any role to play in when I am president. But I would obviously speak out against prostitution and try to persuade women that it is not --- even in a regulated system -- necessarily a good way to try to make a living. Let's try to find other jobs that can be there for women who are looking for a good way to support themselves and their families."

Let's just be grateful that Marco Rubio didn't get the republican nomination.

Long before he was a viable candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, Marco Rubio composed a list of 100 things. Those things were “innovative ideas for Florida’s future,” and they are now available for purchase on Amazon. Rubio put forth those 100 things in 2006, as the speaker of the Florida House; one of them, number 43, was a revolutionary proposal for policing sex work.

The Daily Beast reports today that Rubio’s idea, which never made it through the Florida state Senate, was to offer sex workers and their clients immunity as “whistleblowers” if they turned themselves in and ratted on others. As an incentive, Rubio would have promised them half the proceeds from the cash or property seized from anyone convicted by the “whistleblower’s” testimony.

This proposal’s pitfalls are clear: Johns would have been able to pay for sex, then snitch on the people they’d hired and reap the benefits of their arrests; most sex workers aren’t rolling in cash, and a policy that rested on asset forfeiture would exacerbate the systems of poverty that force some into sex work in the first place.

From Where the GOP Presidential Candidates Stand on Sex Work

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The latest from the US.  BP is not a bad source of independent escorts here in the UK, though many/most of them are actually agency 'plants', and I haven't noticed any change in the London version (which is an interesting source of ebony and mixed escorts, complementing rather than duplicating AW).

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/opinion/when-backpagecom-peddles-schoolgirls-for-sex.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-3&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

 

 

 

Edited by Tiggy 7
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3 hours ago, Tiggy 7 said:

The latest from the US.  BP is not a bad source of independent escorts here in the UK, though many/most of them are actually agency 'plants', and I haven't noticed any change in the London version (which is an interesting source of ebony and mixed escorts, complementing rather than duplicating AW).

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/opinion/when-backpagecom-peddles-schoolgirls-for-sex.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-3&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

 

 

 

This is a really curious article which reflects the curious inconsistency with which people like its author treat evil sexual slavery and how to eliminate it compared to other types of forced labour imposed on minors.  A couple of typical extracts:

My first column about Backpage involved a 13-year-old girl whom I called Baby Face. Her pimp had kicked her down a stairwell for trying to flee, and she was hurting and bleeding and couldn’t bear another rape, but her pimp sold her on Backpage anyway.........

One mom, Nacole (she didn’t want her full name used to protect her family’s privacy), told me how her 15-year-old daughter was sold for more than three months on Backpage.

Surely the best way to address such criminal mistreatment of minors is to identify and prosecute the perpetrators and also to seek to address the social issues that mean that mothers of 13 and 15 year old girls are parenting them without the necessary support to prevent them from being effectively kidnapped and enslaved.

Shutting down back page will make it more difficult to identify child traffickers while also putting adults who have chosen to be sex workers at much greater risk either  of poverty or violence or both

The American establishment is imbued with a misplaced sense of "morality" and should be collectively ashamed of itself. 

 

 

 

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