The internet is neither good nor bad. It is what people use it for that determines its value. Spreading information around the world, allowing greater communication, and spurring innovation are its promises that we love to ponder. However, the internet can also be used for evil, as is the case with children being sold as sex slaves.
The realm of prostitution is one not familiar to most Americans, and the thought of a prostitute is usually that of a woman standing on a street corner wearing skimpy clothing. In the 21st century, however, prostitution has changed. Gone are the street hookers. Now we have Backpage “escorts”.
It’s as simple as placing an ad on the website, which operates in the same manner as Craigslist. Take a picture, write a few sentences, include your contact information, post it, and wait for the phone to ring. The process is that simple. Want an in-call or out-call? Want her for an hour or the whole night? Just ask and receive.
As sleazy as adult prostitution may seem to the average American, it pails in comparison to children being forced by their pimps to perform sexual acts for “Johns”. Not only is human trafficking happening worldwide, but Backpage makes it easier. The site operates in 97 countries and lists 943 specific locations and is involved in 73% of child trafficking reports. According to a Senate investigation,
“The National Association of Attorneys General has aptly described Backpage as a ‘hub’ of ‘human trafficking, especially the trafficking of minors.'”
From the Senate’s report,
Backpage has knowingly concealed evidence of criminality by systematically editing its “adult” ads. As early as 2006, Backpage executives began instructing staff responsible for screening ads(known as “moderators”) to edit the text of adult ads to conceal the true nature of the underlying transaction.
Backpage moderators told the Subcommittee that everyone at the company knew the adult-section ads were for prostitution and that their job was to “put lipstick on a pig” by sanitizing them.
Backpage was not just hosting content that others had created, but purposely editing the ads in order to conceal what they knew were ads for child prostitution. Read the full report below.