Craigslist was the first major site to come under fire for their postings for adult entertainment and alleged prostitution, and they quickly folded, closing down the section of their site that allowed for escorts and other adult industry workers to advertise for their services. Since then, Backpage has been the focus in the media as being partially to blame for the sex trafficking of minors here in the US. In the summer of 2014, Redbook, a west coast advertising site was seized by the Feds and shut down. However, Backpage has remained firm in their refusal to close its doors – and why wouldn’t they at least go down without a fight? – from 2012 to 2013, Backpage made 80% of the $45 million in revenue of the top 12 websites that carry adult advertising.
While the Internet has certainly made being anonymous much easier in many ways, and given predators access to potential victims on a worldwide scale, it has also made finding these criminals easier in many ways as well. With the advent of social media, police are not required to obtain search warrants to browse traffickers’ personal pages, which often offer all the evidence of their crimes needed to build a solid case against them. And sites like Backpage cooperate willingly with law enforcement, respond quickly to subpoenas, and have added additional security measures to their posting process.
When it comes to sex traffickers, this may be one area where Big Brother can provide some sort of justice for those who cannot speak for themselves.
How the Department of Defense is Using Big Data to Combat Sex Trafficking