In my previous post, I discussed how craigslist shuttered its personal section in anticipation of the FOSTA law. Many in tech circles have lamented the loss of craigslist personals as if it was some place where wholesome couples would meet so they could attend church and ice cream socials together. What they’re conveniently forgetting is that the personals section of craigslist had a much more sinister undercurrent that not much of the public was aware of.
Sadly, this is not just a one-off occurrence as the Craigslist personals have a long history of this type of activity. This wasn’t even the youngest victim to ever be sold through craigslist as an Idaho man tried selling a 3-year-old girl through craigslist. In either case, none of the ads were flagged by craigslist’s community policing. For those of you who try to say that this will drive the predators underground, that’s the whole point. Without such a platform like craigslist, predators will have one less highly trafficked platform to find their victims and reprehensible parents won’t have the marketplace to sell their kids.
Back in March, which is going to be a recurring theme for a while, before FOSTA was signed into law, and before Backpage was taken down, craigslist took it upon themselves to remove the personal ads section from their website including the casual encounters section. Anyone clicking on any of the personal ad links on craigslist are met with the above message. As is usually the case with craigslist, they’re playing the victim over something they should have done years ago.
To hear craigslist tell it, they sound like FOSTA is about to kill all romance on the internet. What craigslist isn’t telling you is that their personal ads, like most sections of their site, have long been the home of criminal activity. When craigslist shut down its erotic services section after public pressure, whatever human trafficking ads didn’t move to Backpage moved to craigslist’s personals section. That’s not even taking into account that craigslist’s casual encounters section was often used by child predators looking for their next victim. So while craigslist is acting like some kind of martyr, let it never be forgotten that their personals section has mostly been a cesspool of crime.
Craigslist has only itself to blame since they failed to monitor their own site for decades.
Monday, the 93-count indictment against seven Backpage employees was finally made public. As previously noted, Backpage co-founder Michael Lacey was already known to have been named in the indictment. What we know now is the remaining six people being indicted for various charges related to the Federal seizure of Backpage. One of the expected names to be listed on the indictment was the other co-founder of Backpage, Jim Larkin, and his name is listed second on the indictment. However, there is one name that’s missing from the list of the seven Backpage employees who you would think would be at or near the top of the list.
In case you’re still wondering whose name is not appearing on the list it would be that of Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer. However, while not currently under indictment, Ferrer is referenced to several times in the indictment by the initials “C.F.” and not always referred to in the best light. For example, C.F. is said to have rejected an implementation that would admonish Backpage users if they used search terms that would indicate they were looking for a child prostitute. This is the same Carl Ferrer who decided to just ignore a Congressional subpoena in 2015.
This obviously leads to the question, is Carl Ferrer the reason the seizure took place in the first place? The feds could have had a big enough carrot to dangle in front of Ferrer as he was still facing money laundering charges in the state of California. If that’s the case Ferrer should be applauded somewhat for allowing the internet’s largest avenue for human trafficking facilitation to be taken down, but let’s keep in mind that in the past, Ferrer has never had the best of intentions. One also has to wonder if Ferrer may have been granted immunity from prosecution if he turned on his seven cohorts. Although, I would imagine this wouldn’t make him immune to any civil litigation which probably would hurt Ferrer more than any prison sentence.
I’ve been behind in posting stories about the legal battles befalling Backpage, such as the passage of the SESTA/FOSTA bill that would amend section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The legislation is worded so websites that knowingly facilitate human trafficking would be held legally responsible. However, even before SESTA/FOSTA could be signed into law by the President, the Backpage website was seized by State and Federal authorities this past Friday.
Anyone going to Backpage online on Friday was greeted with the Department of Justice’s declaration that Backpage had been seized as part of an enforcement action by not only the FBI, but also the US Postal Inspector’s Office and the IRS. It’s the IRS’s involvement that lead me to believe this is finally the last we’ve seen of Backpage. According to Wired Magazine, there has been a 93 count indictment against seven people involved with Backpage where one of the charges is money laundering. I would even hazard a guess that maybe Backpage and its cabal of founders may not have been exactly forthcoming on their taxes. Let’s not forget that this is almost the exact same way the Feds were able to finally take down Al Capone. One of those people charged in the indictment was Backpage co-founder Mike Lacey. I would imagine that indictments for Backapge CEO Carl Ferrer and co-founder Jim Larkin can’t be far behind.
Surprisingly, this is not the first instance of the Feds seizing a website that was involved in the facilitation of human trafficking. Back in 2014, the FBI seized MyRedBook which was a similar site to Backpage but on a much smaller scale. In that case the site owners were also accused of money laundering among child prostitution charges. That site’s owner was convicted and was forced to relinquish over a million dollars in cash and assets and was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. Since Backpage operated on a much grander scale, I would imagine any potential fines and sentences would dwarf those of MyRedBook.
Since FOSTA/SESTA has yet to be signed into law, its detractors will say that we no longer need the legislation since Backpage was shut down without it. To those I say FOSTA/SESTA is still needed to prevent another website to rise from Backpage’s ashes like Backpage rose from craigslist’s. No woman or child ever deserves to be turned out online like so much property to be sold into sexual slavery over and over again on a constant basis.
And for those who claim to be ‘legitimate’ sex workers who say Backpage made it safer for them to ply their trade, I have a couple of things to say. The first is, any supposed safety that you perceive to have given to you by Backpage is nothing more than a talking point and an illusion. For all your safety, there was a plethora of women who were either raped or killed by men who had their victims delivered to them through Backpage like they were some kind of murder pizza. The second thing is, if you supposedly have the freedom to choose what you’re doing and are not being coerced by any kind of pimp or trafficker like so many have claimed, maybe this is your sign to pursue more legitimate ventures in your life. You know, ones where you don’t have to worry about pimps, violent johns, and other potentiality tragic hazards of the job.
Well, at least this time it was only a week-long break I took, but what a hell of week to take a break. Lots of big news to catch up on. I’ll be honest, it’s my depression and anxiety that’s been keeping me away from working on the website, but this isn’t about me. I just thought you’d like an explanation. Anyway, rules are the same. Dates are from when the story was published and not necessarily the date of the threat.
I know we’ve all heard about the many breakdowns and failures that led to the Valentine’s day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. However, I want to talk about one glaring one that may have been missed with all the superfluous stories about the shooting grabbing most of the headlines.
Lynda Cruz told Del Barrio that she had no worries about her son as a gun owner.
“I’m not concerned and I’m not afraid,” she said, according to counselor Anna Del Barrio’s report. “My son has pellet guns and he’s always respected the rules of where they can and can’t be used.”
This was after many documented outbursts of violence and self-harm by Cruz himself. This was also while Cruz was 17.
If a child has mental health issues and has thoughts of suicide, why on earth would you encourage them to own a gun?
I know hindsight is always 20/20, but let her mistake be a lesson to parents who are thinking of allowing their minor children to own a gun. They’re not toys, they’re not a phase, they’re not a hobby and they’re not safe. They are weapons whose only real purpose is to kill whatever it’s pointed toward. To allow these instruments of death to be in the hands of children is the ultimate in parental irresponsibility.
Back in March, two different fathers were arrested in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles for the alleged school shooting plots of their sons. In the home of a 16-year-old, two revolvers, one semi-automatic handgun, a rifle and 90 rounds of ammunition were found to be unsecured in the home. In the home of a 17-year-old, police are said to have found a loaded semi-automatic handgun unsecured in a bag. Both teens had threatened to shoot up their respective schools. Both fathers were arrested on charges of unlawful firearms storage.
Since Columbine I’ve been saying that parents need to be held more responsible for what takes place under their roofs. How many times have kids like this have gotten their guns from parents who either gave them the guns or improperly stored their guns around the home and didn’t even notice they were missing? That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is too many. If these kids had gone on to kill using their parents’ guns, how could we not hold the parents responsible?
Maybe if we had started pressing criminal charges against the parents of school shooters who allowed the shootings to take place, parents of future shooters would have gotten involved in their kids’ lives and prevented further bloodshed.