Backpage Closes Adult Section, Citing Years of Government Pressure

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Backpage.com, one of the world’s largest classified ad websites and a frequent target in the political battle against sex trafficking, closed its adult ads section Monday in the United States, citing years of pressure by government officials.

The extraordinary move came shortly after the release of a U.S. Senate report that accused Backpage of hiding criminal activity by deleting terms from ads that indicated sex trafficking or prostitution.

Backpage’s founders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, and the site’s CEO, Carl Ferrer, were expected to testify Tuesday before the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which issued the critical report.

The Senate committee’s inquiry found evidence that Backpage knowingly facilitated prostitution and child sex trafficking, and that despite public claims to the contrary, the website remains owned by Larkin and Lacey through a network of shell companies.

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