The Washington Post recently received documents from a lawsuit unrelated to Backpage that allegedly shows Backpage was not only creating and editing the content of their adult ads, but they were copying ads from competing websites and actively soliciting people to post sex ads on Backpage for free.
The lawsuit was filed against a company in the Philippines named Avion. Avion was being sued by a real estate site for copying their ads. Documents that were seized by the courts in this lawsuit also showed Avion was allegedly copying sex ads from other sites and posting them to Backpage. Avion was also said to contact people who would post sex ads on other sites and promised they could post their ads for free on Backpage. Normally, it costs for anyone to post ads in Backpage’s dating section where the sex trafficking ads are now said to reside.
So what does this mean for Backpage? Well, for years, Backpage has been protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA protects websites from prosecution when its users post illegal content. However, if Backpage is actively creating, editing, copying and soliciting this content, that makes them de facto publishers which no longer affords them the protection of the CDA. This in turn could lead to any number of state Attorneys General to prosecute the Backpage cabal of CEO Carl Ferrer and co-founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. Most importantly, it could lead to an inordinate amount of women and children being freed from sexual slavery.
This also comes at a time when Backpage is suing the Attorney General of Missouri to halt any investigation into Backpage’s alleged illegal activity. Once again, Backpage hides behind the First Amendment and the antiquated CDA. However, with these newly released documents, Backpage may want to start focusing their legal efforts elsewhere, like keeping the blood money trio of Ferrer, Lacey and Larkin out of prison. I also find it kind of humorous that Backpage’s head legal weasel, Liz McDougall, has been silent on the matter when she usually has no problem spouting lies for her greedy benefactors.
Lastly, for those of you who still believe that Backpage is willingly helping law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, please watch this video with a representative of the NCMEC telling it how it really is.