Leading classified advertising website Backpage was forced to shut down its adult section last week, after it fell victim to a government inspection and crackdown.
The US Senate committee, which released a full report on the matter, came to a consensus that the company was promoting and facilitating prostitution and child sex trafficking. Senators Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill stated that the decision of Backpage to terminate its adult section proved the legitimacy of the evidence gathered by the committee.
The committee stated:
“We reported the evidence that Backpage has been far more complicit in online sex trafficking than anyone previously knew. Backpage’s response wasn’t to deny what we said. It was to shut down their site. That’s not ‘censorship’ — it’s validation of our findings.”
Backpage Disagrees, Violation of Privacy
However, a series of statements released by Backpage online fully disagreed with the announcement of the committee, claiming that the decision to close its adult section was finalized after years of pressure exerted by the government. Backpage, its founders and executives went on to emphasize that the reason behind the abrupt closure of its adult section did not validate the findings of the committee.
“Like the decision by Craigslist to remove its adult category in 2010, this announcement is the culmination of years of effort by government at various levels to exert pressure on Backpage.com and to make it too costly to continue,” Backpage explained.
Backpage Founders Hope For Censorship-Free Internet in the Future
In a separate statement, Backpage founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin noted that the government’s crackdown on Backpage’s adult classified advertising is in breach of the 1st amendment, and that they both hope to see a more private and censorship-free internet in the near future.
Larkin and Lacey said:
“But the shutdown of Backpage’s adult classified advertising is an assault on the 1st Amendment. We maintain hope for a more robust and unbowed Internet in the future.”
Larkin and Lacey also emphasized the fact that both have been arrested and jailed twice in the past 10 years by the US government. Those two arrests pertained to the creation and distribution of adult advertisements, which Larkin and Lacey didn’t have any connections with.
“The second arrest, initiated by then-California Attorney General (now senator) Kamala Harris in October 2016 in Sacramento, charged us with having conspired to commit pimping by the publication of nine Adult ads created and placed by users over a three year period in which hundreds of millions of ads were posted to Backpage,” Larkin and Lacey added.
As a result, both founders were forced to sell their shares of the company and pivot away from Backpage due to excessive government censorship and pressure.
The controversial closure of Backpage’s adult section wasn’t embraced by the technology and internet communities and the US Senate committee was harshly criticized for their violation of privacy.
Image via: Senate.gov
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