There have been many apps for meeting people for sex. Tinder, POF, W4M Maps, and the largest and oldest of them all backpage which was established in 2004 as a free classified advertising platform. Soon because of the plethora of sexual activity and openness there, backpage became popular in the states and became one of the largest online classified websites in united states.
In 2011 critics and law enforcement agencies such as FBI started accusing back page for being the sexual trafficking hub of both adults and minors, despite numerous claims by the website that it is doing everything to block the ads which suspected everyone of child sex trafficking.
In 2015 backpage lost all its credit card processing agreements from the banks because they were under a lot of pressure from the law enforcement agencies and leaving them no choice but to put bitcoin as the only option for paid ads.
Its supporters claimed that backpage has helped protect the minors from trafficking by providing prompt information about suspicious posting to the law enforcement agencies. They also claimed that shutting down the back page would move the traffickers to other places on the internet and law enforcement will have a hard time obtaining information about them.
Numerous NGO’s and writers argued that the freedom of speech would be threatened if this type of free speech is prohibited, the made these claims regarding the freedom of speech act and the communications decency act which holds that the service providers like back page are not liable for the content posted by third parties on their platform.
In 2012 the founding company village voice media separated its newspaper company which at the time consisted of eleven weekly alternative newspapers and their affiliated websites from the back page, leaving the website in control of the shareholders mike lacey and Jim Larkins.
Early in 2011, backpage faced a number of legal challenges that were brought to eliminate the adult section of the website or shut it down entirely. Backpages lawyers successfully argued that the first amendment rights of free speech would get compromised if there are any actions on the posting on the website by third parties.
Section 230 of the communications decency act also provided major help in defence of the website.
In April 2018 the department of justice unsealed the indictment against the back page, it contained details of the 17 victims who range from as young as 14 years of age to adults, who were being trafficked on the website while the back page was knowingly involved in prostitution.
One of the victims was forced to do in-calls at hotels, and one more victim was forced to do sexual acts at gunpoint and choked until she started having seizures and then gang-raped.
Arrest of CEO
In October 2016 Texas authorities raided the Dallas headquarters of backpage and then arrested the CEO at the airport on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. It was also alleged in the arrest warrant that 99% of the back page revenue came from prostitution-related ads, and many of them involved sex trafficking of children under the age of 18.
In April 2018 the department of justice seized back page, and Michael Lacey’s home was also raided, and he was charged with money laundering and violations of the travel act.