A Site for Sore Eyes

Part 2 of our Human Trafficking Awareness post

April Rothweiler, YouthHOPE

In the last blog, I told you about a site called Backpage.com. I want to go into a bit more detail and enlist your help fighting against it.

When you visit the site, it looks similar to Craigslist or Iland.net; showing states to search for products or services, and a section open to selling items or products. What you don’t expect is it has some very dark, but not even secret, offerings…

Here are some stats I came across recently in an article from thegospelcoalition.org:

  • Backpage.com is the largest classified ad company – it has sites in 444 cities worldwide (431 in the U.S.)
  • Backpage posts upwards of one million sex ads per day
  • 71% of all suspected underage trafficking cases have been linked to Backpage (over half of victims range from 7 – 17 years old)
  • Backpage has been court-ordered (and subpoenaed by the Senate) to make changes to their “adult ad” section, they refuse to comply and have evaded criminal charges by claiming they can’t be expected to pay for the wrongdoing of their customers.
  • Backpage sued the Department of Justice in attempts to prevent the new anti-trafficking law that would ensure criminal charges to anyone caught knowingly advertising underage sex
  • Backpage has refused to remove ads that have been identified by the parents of the children advertised, as an underage trafficking ad, only removing the ads after multiple attempts and people logged complaints.
  • Backpage has lost the backing of American Express, Mastercard, and Visa. These credit cards will no longer allow transactions from the site.
  • Backpage makes millions of dollars off the sex industry from ads on their site – around 82% compared to other similar sites.

Backpage publicly puts forth effort to help law enforcement catch traffickers through their site, but then works against rescue in all the above ways. They are putting on their “helpful” face and being deceitful behind closed doors. This has got to stop!

Thankfully, there are people still in the fight against Backpage, but it is a long battle ahead. Here’s what you can do:www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/awareness-training

  • Write a letter to your Congressman, with informed, legal reasons of why the site should be shut down.
  • Write a letter supporting the fight against sex trafficking.
  • Alert law enforcement if you see anything suspect – young looking individuals on ads, pictures of individuals looking drugged or unhappy to be there, suspicious wording in the ad, etc.
  • Team up with a local organization to support prevention and awareness.
  • If you aren’t able to do any of the above, choose to provide financial support to those who are currently working against this evil.
  • Get informed (enroll in free anti-trafficking training) and share with others!

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of global and local youth!