First please allow me to address the headline. Short answer, yes. Long answer, duh.
Anyway it’s been a long time since we last heard from Backapge attorney and mouthpiece Liz McDougall. I had hoped that after Backpage split from Village Voice Media that she smartened up and got out of the sex trafficking business. Sadly that is not to be.
Ms. McDougall had some comments for Florida TV station WTSP in response to the Polk County Backpage sting conducted by Sheriff Grady Judd that netted 92 arrests. Lets get out our hip waders and bullshit detectors shall we?
Except for the fact that not only are the codes in question still all over Backpage but what’s preventing the traffickers from getting a new e-mail address. “They’ve banned my e-mail address. Oh well. I guess I’ll go straight” said no criminal ever.
McDougall says the site also filters out 36,000 different terms and phrases. She says in the adult and dating category, a team of moderators look at every single ad. Then, once the ad is posted, a different person with the website checks it out. But clearly in the case Monday where Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says the profiles of a 15 and 16-year-old were posted and men paid the girls hundreds of dollars for sex, there are cases that slip through the cracks.
With the frequency that these arrests actually happen those aren’t cracks, they’re crevasses.
McDougall says, “In some instances with the ads, they will use an image of somebody who’s over age, so there’s nothing that will indicate it’s actually a minor that they will send out to turn a trick.”
Except for when they do, which is most times. How many stories have I posted where the pimps and traffickers took explicit pictures of underage girls to post on Backpage? A metric ass ton. Pimps and traffickers are expert marketers. They know their customer base and appeal to them accordingly.
“We don’t ever intend to give up with the pimps and the traffickers over this, but it’s really important to me and Backpage that we continue to host this content, to continue this fight, because the alternative is if we didn’t the content would go to an offshore website.”
Ask Kim DotCom or the Pirate Bay founders how well that’s worked for them. Granted human trafficking victims don’t have powerful lobbyists on their side but I’ve already ranted about that.
McDougall adds, “When Craigslist shut down its adult category, that did not cure the nation of child sex trafficking.”
No but it took a big chunk out of it. The number of online trafficking incidents have decreased dramatically since craigslist shut down the erotic/adult services section. While still prolific Backpage doesn’t even come close to craigslit’s numbers in that matter. Shutting down Backpage’s adult section would cut it down even more. And then if another site like Backpage pops up shutting that one down would decrease it even more.
Of course Liz isn’t going to agree with any kind of sanctions against Backpage because just like it’s operators she is also making a mound of cash from the victims of sex trafficking. Greed moves people to do a lot of reprehensible things and Liz McDougall is one of those people.
UPDATE 5/28/2013: Just wanted to as this little tidbit that goes along with Liz’s lies. According to a May 2012 study by Arizona State University over 80% of Backpage’s ads were for prostitution. Not just the adult section but all of backpage.
Your screening system is working just great Liz isn’t it?