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What actually happened to the controversial escort site Backpage?

Launched in 2004, Backpage was a classified ad site that literally became the No. 1 marketplace for escorts. As a consequence, it was shut down by the US government in April 2018.

Backpage and FBI:

Actually, Backpage was a bit like Craigslist in the past, yet Backpage's adult page was discovered by FBI because this website was probably involved in prostitution and human trafficking.

The issue is minors were also involved in the process; consequently, FBI must take action quickly. Nevertheless, interviews with escorts from Backpage.com suggest that no one has ever heard of human trafficking activities on this platform. Also, memos in 2012 & 2013 indicate that Backpage.com was actively fighting against things like child prostitution on their site.

Apparently, the American government claims that Backpage was exploiting minors and human trafficking; thus, many erotic massage therapists and escorts moved their advertisements to 'massage' and 'women seeking men' pages of the website. In the United States, merely certain areas in Nevada allow prostitution; clearly, prostitution is illegal in other states.

The controversy:

Though prostitution is illegal in most states of the US, it's not uncommon. Some people started "S*x Workers Outreach Project" in order to protect the rights of escorts as well as their communities. As a result, Kirsten DiAngelo from this project argues that a large number of escorts in America do not have a way to make a living anymore. Previously, Backpage.com allowed escorts to post bad date lists, screen punters and discuss with other escorts so as to make sure that they can have safer and better experiences. Nonetheless, currently Backpage.com is not on the market anymore, so lots of escorts can only work on the street cluelessly.

Besides, a lot of NGOs, government officials and legal experts even claim that free speech is probably threatened after Backpage is seized. Apart from that, experts point out that shutting down Backpage.com could increase the crime rate: if countless guys cannot get what they desire, they may commit crimes like rape. Further, as not every guy has good game, many men cannot get what they desire sexually. Hence, these men probably have to lie to ladies so as to get laid, e.g., they possibly need to tell ladies that they're interested in relationships. In this way, clueless women may sleep with them. In this case, "pump and dump" becomes more commonplace.
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Backpage.com VS retailers:

Some retailers removed their advertisements that were previously owned by Village Voice Media (Backpage's parent company). Those retailers are H&M, IKEA and Barnes & Noble. Further examination shows that when consumers spend less on escorts, they would buy more from retailers. That is to say, in a way, Backpage.com was possibly a competitor of those retailers.

Yes, when a man's sexual needs cannot be met, he will definitely purchase more things in order to feel better – his needs could potentially be met in a different manner. Similarly, when a lady cannot land a guy, she may spend more on clothes so as to feel better – retail therapy is real.

No wonder a lot of retailers fully support the anti-Backpage position.

What happened?

Though Backpage.com had various sections on the website, most of its income came from escorts' ads. Because some of those ads included human trafficking that involved individuals who were under 18, the website has been seized by the government.

Money laundering is another problem. The Californian government filed several charges against the CEO and the owners of Backpage.com for pimping and money laundering, although these three business professionals' lawyers stated that those charges were not valid as the evidence is too thin.

Having said that, founders of Backpage.com were guilty – that is the verdict.
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Users' comments:
"I'm an escort, so I used Backpage to post my ads which worked so well. Also, I met a lot of like-minded women who had discussions with me on the Internet – they were so supportive. Now since the website is gone, I must find punters in real life. It's so hard." (Carol C., 32)

"When Backpage.com was a thriving community, I was making US$30,000 each month as my repeat punters were seriously rich and treated me so well. Luckily, I've saved some money; therefore, now I don't really have to work. My advice is when you still have a career, you would be well-advised to save more money. This is simply the unpleasant realismthere are fat days & lean days. Always save for the rainy day even when the weather is perfectly sunny. Right now, my net worth is more than one million dollars, which ensures my comfortable lifestyle. I may find a real job in the future and marry a wealthy guy. But I'll always have a secret stash as I worked pretty hard when Backpage was online. I think my money should be mine at all times." (Catherine N., 34)

"I'm a man who used to find escorts via Backpage.com which was a very useful site. I have met some attractive ladies on that website. They became my friends with real benefits." (Ben T., 38)

"As a male erotic massage therapist, my clients are ladies who know what they deserve physically. I posted some ads on Backpage.com which attracted many clients as the site had many visitors every day. Most ladies who hired me were wealthy and older women." (Pete C., 37)
Quote: "Does the anti-Backpage position threaten freedoms on the Internet?"