On January 9, 2017, Backpage.com “blocked” its prostitution advertising in America.
Its prostitution advertising pages now greet visitors with the message: “The government has unconstitutionally censored this content.”
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.
The public should not fall for Backpage’s theatrical attempt to portray itself as the victim of government persecution or censorship.
The only people under attack are those used as human fodder in Backpage’s gristmill of sexual exploitation. While Backpage likes to wrap itself in the First Amendment, free speech is not a license to orchestrate sexual exploitation. Moreover, the prostitution advertising occurring on Backpage.com simply migrated to other sections of the website.
For example, the Miami Herald recently reported on the heart-wrenching case of a minor being sex trafficked through Backpage.
A federal court indictment accuses a South Florida man of being a predator in a case involving a 16-year-old girl.
The girl told Boynton Beach police she called the 31-year-old Marco Orrego in May to help her run away from home. And Orrego did, she said, sending an Uber to take her to his apartment.
There, she said, Orrego raped her; pressured her to return to prostitution, said he would kill her if she didn’t turn over all her earnings, and raped her again when he thought she held back $3. Boynton Beach police say he recorded some of the raping on his iPhone.
According to police, they found the girl, whose father had reported her missing, after the father learned she had been listed on Backpage.com as an escort and was being kept at a local hotel.
One thing is clear, sex trafficking and prostitution are alive and well on Backpage.com.