Backpage.com ends adult ads under govt. scrutiny

- Adults ads are no longer appearing on the classified website Backpage.com.

The company is citing pressure from the government as one of its reasons for shutting down the content.

Backpage is a website that has been linked to sex trafficking advertisements in the past. Last June, the Polk County Sheriff's Office arrested more than 100 people for prostitution or soliciting prostitution in a sting using Backpage.com.

"A large majority of my clients, and I have 65 survivor clients, have been advertised on Backpage, many of them advertised as children," said Brent Woody, an attorney with the West Florida Center for Trafficking Advocacy and Selah Freedom, non-profit organizations that assist and represent victims of human trafficking.

Woody and his wife, Pamela, who works with the Tampa Bay Advocates Against Human Trafficking, said they are in support of the adult ads being removed, because it creates less of an opportunity for sex traffickers to reach predators.

"Tonight we will have thousands of children who will not be raped as a result of Backpage not being active," said Woody.

Representatives with Backpage, and even some victim advocates, have said they do not believe getting rid of the ads will put an end to sex trafficking, instead, making it more difficult to catch those involved.

Backpage released a statement that read, in part, "this act of censorship will not reduce the problem of human trafficking, and those who suggest otherwise are deluding themselves and their constituencies. Instead, it undermines efforts by Backpage.com to cooperate with law enforcement and provide information to identify, arrest and prosecute those who engage in human trafficking."

Backpage officials said they plan to continue to fight for "online freedom of speech" by taking the matter to court.

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