hands off our internet

Upsetting Ad Ratchets Up the Fight Against Backpage.com’s Adult Ads

Not for the faint-of-heart.
backpage with Upsetting Ad Ratchets Up the Fight Against Backpage.coms Adult Ads

Despite their signs, these people are not with Backpage. (Photo: Melissa Gira Grant)

Almost as soon as Craiglist threw up its hands and shut down its “adult services” section, attention shifted to Backpage.com, which is owned by Village Voice Media and often accused of hosting as much as 70 percent of the Internet’s sex ads.

Betabeat got an IRL look at the dispute just a couple of weeks ago by venturing forth to dueling protests at the Voice‘s Cooper Square HQ, where opponents emphasized sex trafficking and adult sex workers defended the site for offering them a way to operate in relative safety.

Well, the heat wave might’ve broken, but the fight isn’t going anywhere. The latest volley in the war: A simple-but-brutal video advertisement recounting (in first person, though by an actor) the experiences of a child sex trafficking survivor advertised on the site. And it’s pretty upsetting, even for hard-hearted bloggers like ourselves:

Sponsored by the social service organization FAIR Girls, the ad is scheduled to debut Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos and air several times afterward on cable. In a statement accompanying the video’s announcement, FAIR Girls cofounder Andrea Powell explained their motives: “Almost every single sex trafficked girl we have assisted in the U.S. this year was sold by her pimp using the adult section of Backpage.com.”

Brooklyn district attorney Charles J. Hynes added:

Backpage.com is the new street corner where traffickers pimp their often underage victims, and many of the 40-plus indictments secured by my Sex Trafficking Unit in the past two years involve advertisements on Backpage.com.

We’ve reached out to Village Voice Media for comment and will update if we hear more.

Attempts to contact Norman Mailer’s ghost via Ouija board were unsuccessful.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com