Kids are being pimped out over the internet on a daily basis. One of the biggest markets for child prostitution is through Texas-based Backpage. That’s an online classified ad company that looks legit at first glance but sells a lot more than motorcycles and antiques. A very large percentage of its business is sex – sex with children. Backpage has been known for a long time as a profitable place for child prostitution rings to run their ads.
Backpage claims that all it does is provide a platform for ads. In other words, it says it’s just posting content between third parties and therefore it’s not responsible for what they do. But its CEO, Carl Ferrer, was arrested in California on pimping charges.
And a recent U.S. Senate report shows just how Backpage promoted illegal sex trafficking of children.
Editing ads to get past government censors
According to the report, the CEO and other managers of the website knew that Backpage was being used for sex trafficking. Instead of just allowing the ads to appear on their site, they routinely ran software to look for keywords like “Lolita” and then edited the ads to keep those words out, so they could keep profiting from the illegal activity.
But that’s not all. After the first round with software, Backpage employees then went through the child sex ads manually in order to clean them up.
Finally, Backpage actually gave its customers tips on how to write the ads better in the first place in order to avoid detection by law enforcement officers.
Their CEO and other executives plead the Fifth
Although Backpage claims innocence, you should not be surprised to learn that its CEO, Carl Ferrer, and even its lawyer pleaded the Fifth Amendment in the Senate hearings that led to the report. (California criminal case is still pending)
Backpage was sued last year in civil court in the state of Washington. In that case, its officers and directors again took the Fifth, this time in depositions.
Contact us if you have evidence about child abuse occurring through Backpage
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 73% of all child sex trafficking reports involves Backpage. Backpage recently shut down the sex marketing part of its website, claiming government censorship. But the company is still open and running.
New lawsuits against Backpage were filed in Washington, Texas, and Alabama this past week, and all attorneys in the cases are looking to speak with witnesses who have information about the practices of Backpage.
In our experience, victims who come forward are able to release the guilt and shame that they sometimes have carried inside for years. For all of us who are members of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, it’s a pleasure to help sex abuse victims become empowered in the fight to end child sex trafficking.