Recently, one of New York’s less than trustworthy and more opinionated newspapers ran an article claiming online sex trafficking hasn’t changed since the federal seizure of Backpage. The article claims an ‘unnamed source’ within the NYPD is saying there has been no slow down since Backpage was shuttered. This newspaper seems to be one of the outlets that believe the ‘consenting adult’ myth, as they quote a john who said prostitution should be legal since gambling and marijuana are legal in some places. The problem with that analogy is weed and casino chips aren’t being repeatedly sold against their will.
However, the article then goes on to not only mention a new website but also links to the new site as well, supposedly the sleazy heir apparent to Backpage. I’m not going to link to the article, the website, or mention the website by name, but the site looks like it’s trying to copy Backpage even right down to the CSS. The ads on this new site seem to be even more blatant than the usually coded ads that appeared on Backpage. This new site also has the usual disclaimer that ads related to human trafficking will not be tolerated, asking ad posters to click on a button that says ‘I agree’. They’re even trying to be more shifty than Backpage was. In my research, I was unable to find any information regarding who owns the new platform. Their social media presence is almost non-existent, however, I was able to find some information that the site does business in Texas, although reports say the website itself is allegedly hosted in Canada.
While the New York tabloids may be decrying online sex trafficking has continued unabated since the closure of Backpage, it’s still too early to really tell. It’s only been less than two months since Backpage was seized so it’s still too early to say it’s business as usual. At its height, Backpage was responsible for 80% of all online sex trafficking in the US by most reports and had the financial backing of a media company. In today’s post-FOSTA world, it will be almost impossible for a website to be as lucrative as Backpage was at its zenith.
The online sex trafficking trade has been severely splintered. While it may continue to exist, it will never be at the level it was when Backpage was running things. This is a good thing despite protests to the contrary, as it causes fewer victims to be trafficked against their will. While the fight against online human trafficking is a constant battle, there will be fewer casualties in the future.