posters use terms like “fresh,” “cherry,” and “barely legal” in online ads to imply that the
individual is underage. 52
Despite Backpage attorney Liz McDougall’s statement that Backpage does not welcome
ads for illegal prostitution or child sexual exploitation, the website is known for advertising these
illegal acts by users seeking to buy sex ( i.e., “johns”), pimps or traffickers, law enforcement, and
underage victims who have been sold on the site. 53 Online chatter between johns also confirms
that they go to Backpage.com to look for sex. 54 Johns even use Backpage forums to share advice
regarding local escorts and police encounters. 55 Pimps and traffickers also turn to Backpage as a
means of advertising their victims. 56 Clearly, both johns and pimps utilize Backpage’s adult
entertainment section for the purposes of illegal sex and child sex trafficking, whether or not
Backpage welcomes it.
Law enforcement employees involved in sex trafficking cases also point to Backpage as
advertising illegal sex and child sex trafficking victims. For example, the Chief of a District
Attorney’s Sex Trafficking Unit in New York stated that of thirty-two cases she and her team
prosecuted in a year and a half, “typically involving victims aged [twelve] to [twenty-five]—a
vast majority of the cases included girls marketed through Backpage ads.” 57 Similarly, a
52 Alan Johnson, Human Trafficking at the Charlotte, Tampa Conventions, COLM. DISPATCH (Sept. 5, 2012),
tampa.html; @@YoungFresh CollegeStudent@@ BubbleyHott petite Professional Ebony Readyand willing to cater To You! – 19,
BACKPAGE (Oct. 10, 2013, 2: 44 AM), http://indianapolis.backpage.com/FemaleEscorts/youngfresh-collegestudent-bubbleyhott-petite-
53 In a CNN interview, multiple johns admitted to seeking sex through Backpage, and one john responded to the claim that the escort
section is not selling sex by asking, “What are they selling then?” Amber Lyon, Child Sex Trafficking on the Internet- “Selling the
Girl Next Door” Documentary, (CNN television broadcast Mar. 19, 2012), available at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFRZ1NDR0Rc. Another john nodded his head in affirmation when Ms. Lyon asked him if he ever
suspected that the girls he found on Backpage were underage. Id.
54 See Backpage Escorts Advice, BLOGGER (Apr. 6, 2011, 6: 54 PM), http://backpageescorts.blogspot.com/ (explaining that one john
went so far as to create a blog entitled “Backpage Escorts Advice,” where the writer offers other users “helpful” tips for finding and
using an escort, such as “bring your own condoms” and “[t]he only things an escort should be refusing to do when she charges $150,
$200, $250 or more per hour is to refuse to allow you to perform oral sex ON HER or ANAL, which is extra if she does it at all”).
55 A Backpage forum for users entitled “Escorts in Houston, any police experiences?” includes comments from users who seek
commercial sex. Backpage Forums: Sex/Obituaries: Escorts in Houston, Any Police Experiences?, BACKPAGE,
http://forums.Backpage.com/showthread.php?t=25065 (last visited Oct. 20, 2013). One pimp wrote, “I think we should do our best to
share knowledge about any sting info that may be out there. This would be a great place to discuss the girls we know are real and not
under covers. Does anyone here know if HPD is actively monitoring this site?” Id. Another added, “[B]elieve me, there are no cops
monitoring this board. Now, let's get back to talking about whores masquerading as escorts, and where we might find them.” Id. A
Backpage forum on “Legal Advice” even contains a section entitled “Escort Services & the law,” where user comments include
statements regarding law enforcement supervision of the site. Backpage Forums: Legal Advice: Escort Services & the Law,
BACKPAGE, http://forums.Backpage.com/showthread.php?t=43531 (last visited Oct. 10, 2013).
One pimp advises:
I have been in the ‘entertainment’ industry in South Florida for over 15 years I have over 50 steady clients ..
The [sic] are all clean married and rich. Most ‘Escorts’ get between .. yes it is true $70 to $150 ... my ladies
make $5,000 a week or weekend… Miami .. Dade is a tad more lax that is why they call it ‘Da Dirty South’,
when it comes to Escorts .. however have you seen many girls working 8th street lately .. no .. they all got
nabbed. So go ahead ladies and put your business card on Craids [sic] List and Back Page….
Id. It is not the author’s intent to re-victimize or re-exploit any individuals advertised on Backpage.com or other ISPs. These quotes
from Backpage.com have been included to demonstrate the reality of pimps and traffickers utilizing ISPs such as Backpage.com to
advertise the commercial sex services of those they exploit.
56 Backpage Forums: Legal Advice: Escort Services & the Law, BACKPAGE, http://forums.Backpage.com/showthread.php?t=43531
(last visited Oct. 10, 2013).
57 Nicholas D. Kristof, How Pimps Use the Web to Sell Girls, N.Y. TIMES (Jan. 25, 2012),