Backpage shuts down sex ads citing government pressure

Story here.

Does anyone else find this worrying? I’ve never availed myself of adult sex sites like this but I can see they fill a need. And if Backpage has committed offenses (which from all I’ve read I don’t believe they have) isn’t it the business of law enforcement and the courts to deal with it rather than Congress pushing its weight around?

I’m perfectly willing to have my ignorance corrected if I’m missing something here.

As a company, they probably just didn’t want to deal with the constant legal issues. The market will supply the demand from offshore with much less scrutiny.

Some senators claim that the site was used for advertising sex services with minors and that they’ve known that. It’s a perfectly reasonable area for congressional investigation if the evidence of criminal activity actually exists. The report linked in the article from the OP purports to show that evidence. In the field of cyber-crime it can be very difficult for law enforcement and the courts to work below the federal level. This is a general deficiency in our legal system that needs addressing but in the case of serious crimes it’s reasonable for congress to direct specific efforts. I suspect that even if Backpage is not legally culpable for the use of it’s website in illegal activities they do not want the details this activity and their association with it exposed and will stonewall the congressional investigations. Considering the accusations of sex trafficking of minors I think Backpage needs be able to defend itself against those specific charges before they complain about the overall free speech issues.

And this scares me. Our soon to be CA Senator, our soon to be ex AJ, was willing to use the Bill of Rights as toilet Paper to score political points.

The uncomfortable bit with something like this is that Congress (or a State Legislature) is not bound by the sort of rules that courts or (responsible) prosecutors or plaintiff’s counsel are regarding evidence and cause and standing, resulting in that they can throw around claims and talk of suspicions and allegations and start an inquiry just on their say-so (or from hearsay) that one is required, and pick and choose what testimony to hear and what findings to report if it suits them, and Legislative Immunity protects them if it’s not so.

That said, Backpage seems to be in no position to push back, since many of those services are actually illegal in most of the country and they protect themselves by remaining purely middlemen, there is no good recordkeeping/vetting of the providers and consumers that they could point to as proof there is no such problem.

This is totally stupid and will not save anyone from sex trafficking. If there were any such ads on Backpage, they’ll just be placed on sites that are less closely monitored and staffed by people who are less likely to cooperate with law enforcement. Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of advertisers who are consenting adults will lose a safe place to advertise and screen clients. Again, it won’t stop them, it will just make their work more dangerous.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Interesting that Backpage claims that “the government” is censoring the content – not Backpage itself. Do they know the difference?

After the AG for CA arrested you all, makes you spend tens of thousands on legal fees, bail, etc, just to get her case thrown out due to 1st Ad protections- then does it all again. Yes, they have taken down the ads due to government harassment… which is effect is censorship.

If you put a antiTrump (for example) campaign sign in your front yard, and they arrested you, charge you, but the Judge tosses the case out, then they keep doing it, harassing you with bail, legal fess and time spent in handcuffs and overnite jail stays- you can
legitimately say the Government censored your sign, even if the Courts ruled in your favor.

So, yes, censorship.

You can still find whores on backpage. just look under massage or misc services. They just did away the categories that were explicitly for “adult services.” They aren’t really even censoring themselves, that is, not censoring the actual ads. You can put a sex worker ad under any other category and get away with it. At least for now.

This is a classic multi-gamer scenario.

The way these things usually go is, that a REAL problem exists (in this case, child porn and illegal prostitution and human trafficking); the authorities legitimately decide to take action about it, but owing to the necessarily crude way that the tools of law work, they make a sloppy job of it. Political advantages for various interests, serve to amplify the mistakes and sloppiness, so that an attack on the bad stuff, turns into a broad-based threat to a lot more.

Even when there actually IS no real threat to the “a lot more,” certain interests will claim that there is, and it’s not just the people trying to protect the “bad guys,” it’s mostly people who are trying to use the situation to gain advantage in only peripherally related concerns.

There are LOTS of businesses which DO NOT want to be held legally responsible for their customers actions. Arms industries, obviously. Also financial institutions, who benefit from funneling the big profits of the borderline, and actual illegal activities. Business insurance companies who have to pay off if a government action inadvertently screws up legal businesses.

From what I’ve seen, the way the capitalist world has always worked, is that overall, everyone accepts a certain amount of “slop” in the system. A certain amount of theft. A certain amount of irresponsibility. A certain amount of corruption. This is because certainty in anything, is tremendously costly, and everyone wants to make a profit.

I find this interesting because about two months ago an ad was placed on Backpage for an escort complete with sleazy photos and they used MY phone number. I didn’t know if it was an accident or scam. I read that if you report it to the site they won’t help, and someone said they started getting lots of scam calls after trying to report the issue. All I have is this cheap emergency tracphone with a few minutes a month so every time one of this woman’s potential clients texts or calls me I lose airtime. For the first few weeks I was getting hit up two or three times a night, late in to the night. For the past two weeks or so the calls and texts had dwindled down but yesterday I was hit again five more times, with two calls around three in the morning. I wondered if anyone else had this problem here. It’s driving me nuts.

Wasn’t VP Pence extremely vocal about his conviction that pornography is a ‘public health crisis’, and suppressing / controlling it would remain one of his political objectives? I thought he had been pretty open about it. So I’m not surprised this is happening really.

You read? Someone said?

Why not report it and find out for yourself?

Because I don’t want to be on another list and lose more airtime. I already get enough calls and texts from this woman’s potential clients. I tried later this afternoon anyway after the sixth text in 24 hours. When I went to report an issue I was expected to sign up with them and it says my phone number is already in use. This was the ONLY way to report the issue. When you get to “Is this email the address you use to post ads?” if you say no you have to create an account. I can’t create an account with my number since it’s already in use and I honestly don’t want to create an account anyway.

The help section is only for posting ads.

I would be interested to see any cites for cases where Kamala Harris did this as California AG (or San Francisco DA). Thanks in advance.

All the hookers have just moved their ads to the personals section so there is effectively zero difference.

apparently. But now they don’t hint at their prices.

Ka*mala Harris Files Brand New Criminal Charges Against Backpage Execs After Last Ones Were Tossed Out
from the you-already-got-elected dept
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 – despite having the very same lawsuit thrown out a few weeks ago. As you may recall, for years, Harris (and some other state Attorneys General) have been crusading against the classified website Backpage, because some of its users use it to post illegal prostitution ads. As has been explained dozens of times, the proper thing to do in those situations is to use that information to go after those actually breaking the law. Instead, Harris and others have whined about their desire to put Backpage execs in jail instead (which won’t actually stop any illegal activity – since it will just move to another site).

Let’s be crystal clear here: California Attorney General Kamala Harris (who in just a few weeks will become a US Senator) knows that she has no legal basis for arresting the execs behind Backpage. How do we know she knows this? Because three years ago she signed a letter whining about how she had no legal authority to arrest Backpage because it’s (rightly) protected by Section 230 of the CDA, saying that you can’t blame a site for the actions of its users. So it did seem weird, back in October, when Harris – along with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton – decided to arrest Backpage’s execs anyway, and charge them with “pimping.” As we note at the time, the criminal complaint against them was laughable and almost completely bogus. Not only was Backpage protected by CDA 230, but the actual investigation into Backpage undercut the case they were bringing, because it showed a willingness by Backpage to delete prostitution ads when brought to their attention by law enforcement, and to block those users from reposting.

So it was no surprise at all when the court quickly tossed all the charges against the execs, and told Harris to take it up with Congress… which, of course, is where she’ll be in a month. However, not content to just try to change the laws, Harris has chosen to file brand new charges against the three execs, Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacy, and James Larkin. …

This is a frightening abuse of power to harass a company just because Harris doesn’t like how people use that company, and because she and her staff can’t be bothered to do the actual law enforcement work of using that information to go after the actual lawbreakers. It’s shameful."*

Rushgeekgirl, I also wound up with a series of strange calls asking for “the woman from Backpage” (she was apparently big and beautiful). I did complain to Backpage and got (shall I say it?) (yes I shall) immediate satisfaction.

Story here (hope the link works):

Just one experience, but I think you’re better off complaining than not.

Ah, didn’t read far enough to see that you ran into a roadblock. I guess they’ve changed their reporting system since I had that experience. Too bad. Still might be worth a try if you can figure out how to do it, since what you’re describing sounds beyond annoying.