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RainbowUnion
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11 Apr 2018, 6:41 pm

Backpage.com, an online add site, was recently shut down, at least in the US, because prostitutes commonly advertised their services there. IMO this is a terrible Nazi style action. First, backpage had much more there than just these ads and didn't exist just for this. I think its insane that prostitution is illegal in the US at all as well. Its illegality causes far more problems than it solves, just like that idiotic American attempt to illegalize alcohol. And it makes it illegal to sell something that is perfectly legal to give away. Does this make any sense at all?

But anyway, I see this shutdown as a horrible trampling of our liberty.


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11 Apr 2018, 6:48 pm

Oh, and in case any are wondering, those adds are for the most part female prostitutes who cater to heterosexual male clients. I am a homosexual male and never have any problem finding free casual sex when I want it. So no, I'm not up in arms about this because I use these services.


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11 Apr 2018, 7:03 pm

You can't prevent prostitution simply by banning it. It's better to provide women with a social safety net so that no woman is forced into prostitution against her will.


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11 Apr 2018, 8:02 pm

Here's a news article about it. It appears the main problem according to it was sex trafficking. Missing teenagers and runaways being exploited and oppressed by pimps.

http://www.newsweek.com/people-are-goin ... own-876486



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11 Apr 2018, 8:24 pm

I won't be losing any sleep over it being shut down.

"In an amicus curiae brief, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says the efforts of Backpage are inadequate and their reporting lacked in several areas. They say Backpage does not report all ads that have been flagged as being underage, does not report when someone tries to advertise children under 18 years of age, and does not respond to requests of parents to have ads of their trafficked children removed. They also say Backpage "encourage[s] dissemination of child sex trafficking content on its website". They say Backpage is much slower in removing ads that advertise children than ads placed by authorities aimed at trapping traffickers, guides traffickers in creating false pages for underage children, instructs traffickers and buyers on how to pay anonymously, and makes it easier to make adult posts than other posts. They said "To all intents and purposes, Backpage has instituted no effective procedures to prevent child sex trafficking ads from being created on its site." They say that they do not use obvious techniques to identify traffickers, such as using the same phone number, email address or credit card of a known trafficker, or reusing the same picture of known victim of human trafficking.[11]" - Wikipedia page

I despise child traffickers and the prostitution of children, and if the FBI is acting to stop it, then good on them. I'm not much in favour of free speech for any mongrel who facilitates selling children's bodies to adult perverts, and I don't care about their "liberty" to do so.



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13 Apr 2018, 12:47 pm

B19 wrote:
I won't be losing any sleep over it being shut down.

"In an amicus curiae brief, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says the efforts of Backpage are inadequate and their reporting lacked in several areas. They say Backpage does not report all ads that have been flagged as being underage, does not report when someone tries to advertise children under 18 years of age, and does not respond to requests of parents to have ads of their trafficked children removed. They also say Backpage "encourage[s] dissemination of child sex trafficking content on its website". They say Backpage is much slower in removing ads that advertise children than ads placed by authorities aimed at trapping traffickers, guides traffickers in creating false pages for underage children, instructs traffickers and buyers on how to pay anonymously, and makes it easier to make adult posts than other posts. They said "To all intents and purposes, Backpage has instituted no effective procedures to prevent child sex trafficking ads from being created on its site." They say that they do not use obvious techniques to identify traffickers, such as using the same phone number, email address or credit card of a known trafficker, or reusing the same picture of known victim of human trafficking.[11]" - Wikipedia page

I despise child traffickers and the prostitution of children, and if the FBI is acting to stop it, then good on them. I'm not much in favour of free speech for any mongrel who facilitates selling children's bodies to adult perverts, and I don't care about their "liberty" to do so.


My understanding was that the majority of the people doing this are adults doing it voluntairly. Also, thats not the only thing there.


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13 Apr 2018, 1:06 pm

7 Sex Workers on What It Means to Lose Backpage

By Melissa Gira Grant




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Harpy Anna, a 29-year-old sex worker in Chicago. “There was always Backpage. Then, one day it just disappears?” Photo: Sergio P.

On Friday, the Department of Justice seized backpage.com, the website that was once the most accessible online marketplace for sex workers. All that remains is a large banner announcing the shutdown under a row of law-enforcement logos. The site was a target for groups opposed to sex work, and for legislators, who in the last few weeks converged to pass the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, meant to remove such ads from the internet. More than a dozen websites hosting ads for sex work have since gone offline. On Monday, the criminal indictment against Backpage was unsealed; seven of their staffers were charged with money laundering and violations of the Travel Act concerning facilitating prostitution. Backpage could not violate FOSTA; the president has not yet signed it into law.

Sex workers have used the internet over the last decade to carve out some independence, safety, and community in their work. For many, advertising online is a form of harm reduction — a way to choose how to work and whom to work with. To lose online ads means different things to different sex workers: For some, it means losing the equivalent of a paycheck, and for others, it will lead to losing control over their jobs, if not losing their jobs altogether.



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Friday evening, as it became clear that backpage.com was gone, I began contacting sex workers from across the United States: from a range of backgrounds, types of sex work, and years of work experience. Here are some of their stories, in their own words, as told to me on Saturday, April 7, and Sunday, April 8, 2018.






On finding out backpage.com was shut down

Trinity Collins (27, African-American trans woman working in New Orleans): How did I find out Backpage was shut down? I like to use the term “How did I find out I was fired?”



Simone (20, Middle Eastern/North African cis woman working in New York City): I was on the J train on my way to meet up with some other sex workers in the city, when I got this very frantic phone call from a friend. “Hey, I just tried to post up my ad on Backpage and I got this pop-up, do you know what’s going on?” And then immediately she just started sobbing on the phone.



Glenn Spence (37, white cis woman working in New England): I was in this motel room that I’m in right now, this exact same motel room, actually. I was freaking out because when I logged onto the site, the only payment option was in cryptocurrency.

Harpy Anna (29, white, “Female/Politically Queer,” working in Chicago): Way before I was ever an escort, I had looked on Backpage just to see what was going on on there. There was always Backpage. Then, one day it just disappears?

Sarah (30s, white and Jewish cis woman, living in Michigan): I found out on Twitter that Backpage shut down – almost two years after I left survival sex work. Backpage helped keep me safe during one of the scariest, most dangerous times of my entire life. Being homeless and under the control of an abusive man who needed an illegal substance to stay semi-functional was scary. Backpage was the best option I had for people who would give me money, so I could stay alive.



On how the site helped them make money

Harpy Anna: Our business has been declining for about a year. I feel like maybe about four years ago, it was like really, really good. Backpage was popping. You didn’t have to take clients you didn’t want to take because you were always going to get calls. But then, over the last year — whenever they took out the escorts section — that affected business. (In January 2017, Backpage removed its Escorts section, though advertisers soon moved to the Personals section.)



Trinity: When this happened, I only had $100 to my name. Backpage offered me options to do gift cards, and I would go to Best Buy and buy $150 gift cards. I had just done that the day before. That was $150 down the drain.

Natalia: I had a pending $85 in credits for Backpage. This whole weekend, which is usually the first weekend of the month after rent, is usually one of our busiest weekends. We basically lost everything because I didn’t get any phone calls whatsoever.



Harpy Anna: There is this thing that Backpage guys do, the predatory ones, not the typical client, but people that just prey on sex workers. They will wait until the end of the month and try to contact you, and try to get you to lower your rate, because they might think that you are desperate because you have to pay rent and bills soon.

I had a regular client for several years and then, he went kind of off the deep end and assaulted me. I haven’t been in contact with him at all. The day that Backpage went down, it was like within the next two or three hours, he was texting me like, “Hey, what’s up? Hey, can I come over?” Just really trying to … I don’t know, capitalize on the fact that people are going to be in panic mode.

Glenn: I’ve been helping out a couple of women who had started out working on Backpage — they were working the streets for a while and I would just run into them. And they basically begged me to help them get on Backpage. These women are living in overpriced motel rooms, where they’re charged by these opportunistic motel owners. They could be homeless and in agonizing withdrawal within like five or six or seven hours. So they have to take care of that every day, they have to take care of their habits, and that’s what I was thinking.



Joy (40, African-American trans woman working in East Texas/Louisiana): I am originally from Southern California. My professional background is in TV and film production. While living there as a gay male, I was assaulted when I was 19 — and since then have had post-traumatic stress disorder. Being a sex worker, I do erotic massages. That has provided a certain amount of income for me, as well as freedom, to pursue my writing goals as well as to just be able to pretty much be with myself and by myself. I have been coming down here since November and I kept coming back because it was like sitting on an oil well and it was just gushing and gushing, the amount of money I was making.



Simone: I am a Middle Eastern, Muslim 20-year old woman from a very poor part of the South who has been living independently in New York for about two years now. I primarily work out of a massage parlor in the West Village but also do full-service sex work and fetish stuff occasionally. Backpage is currently — or it was — my sole source of income. Backpage is a lot easier than running a website or using Eros. It has the lowest pay barrier. I’ve been told that I need to start posting on Eros, and that’s fine and that’s cool, but it’s also $200 per ad as opposed to Backpage’s $7.

On how the site gave them stability

Natalia: I am a grad student; my internship does not pay. I have no financial help from anybody whatsoever. I attended one of the top schools in my program, and this is the only way that I could keep attending school.

Sarah: I became homeless in March of 2016 when I abandoned my home, marriage, job, my entire life, because I was manic and under the spell of a charismatic abuser, “Barn Cat.” Barn Cat was a $100–$300 a day heroin user. Barn Cat needed heroin. Heroin costs money. Barn Cat had no money. I had to get money, somehow. From somewhere.





Natalia: I share a workspace with one of my closest friends. She works as a massage therapist. So, in our work, that is what we go under and we do post on Backpage as that. She is being burdened in a completely different way because … she doesn’t go to school, but she is a single mother with no other source of income whatsoever, because she got married very young, so she has zero experience. Her situation is completely different because there is a child on the line.

Sarah: We were stuck at a gas station on US 23. Barn Cat, throwing up blood. Me, panicking. I walked around the parking lot, from semitruck to semitruck, asking in broad-ass daylight if any truckers would like to have sex with me. Yes, really. When none of the truckers took me up on my super-appealing, totally not suspicious offering, I started approaching men on motorcycles. BECAUSE I WATCHED SONS OF ANARCHY OKAY, I thought it would work. It did not.

Simone: I worked at a record label for about a year before layoffs, in like August 2017? So I haven’t hit my full year since I started doing sex work, which has been my shtick, my gig. Ideally, if I make enough money it’d be nice to go back to school, but priorities are priorities.

Joy: I did work in the streets for quite some time when I lived in Los Angeles, and then, I stopped, once there was Craigslist, Backpage, Eros … I have been on there since the inception. When I worked in the streets in Hollywood, Santa Monica Boulevard where the trans are, I was arrested several times and placed on probation for several years.



Sarah: Someone on Twitter told me about Backpage. I took my laptop to a coffee shop, took a picture of my boobs, and posted a free ad. An hour later, I made $100, bought $20 worth of food, and gave the rest to Barn Cat. After that, we got into a routine. Barn Cat would yell at me to post ads three times a day. I would do out calls until I could convince a man to get me a cheap hotel room, then I would do in calls. In three months, I estimate I made around $10,000 for Barn Cat. AND I’M STILL GRATEFUL AS f**k FOR BACKPAGE, because without them, I would have still been knocking on semitruck doors.



Trinity: I started college long ago. I owe on my student loans. I started my own business about two months ago, the Bomb Agency, and I am trying to get that off the ground because I knew this day was coming. I developed a passion for photography. And part of my business plan was to go on Backpage and offer the photo shoots to the girls because we always need new pictures.

Glenn: I’ve had this uptick of business, but it feels very calm-before-the-storm-y. Like because I have a lot of regulars, and because I’ve been around a while, I’m a known presence, I’m somebody secure that people can turn to, like oh well I still have this girl’s number even though Backpage is down. So I have this weird juxtaposition of feeling financially secure in the moment but not knowing what my business plan is gonna be and not knowing how I’m going to be making money a month from now.

Joy: The money that I earned over pretty much the decade was just money for me to live comfortably, for me to travel, for me to do things in my personal life like laser hair removal, which cost thousands of dollars.



Natalia: I felt safe with it. I choose whether or not I want to do something. The way that I work is, “You come here and you get a massage,” and if I think the client is going to be cooperative and he is going to have the means to pay — if I feel like I want to do something, I will do it. If not, I will just finish the regular massage. If I go work somewhere else, whether it is the street, whether it is for somebody else, I won’t have the freedom to do that and I won’t feel safe anymore.



Sarah: With Backpage, I could post my phone number, and I could talk to these dudes a little bit, to weed out the worst ones. If Barn Cat was really dope sick, sometimes I had to go anyway. But if I had a polite, respectful dude on the line, I could choose him over another.

On what’s next

Glenn: What I’m really concerned about is the loss of screening information and the loss of community blacklists is going to mean. I have enough shaky social capital and have enough latitude that I can say, “Give me some employment verification,” whereas, most workers who are even a degree or two below me on that hierarchy can’t afford to spook clients by asking those questions. The only thing they can rely on is shared community information.



Simone: Right now, the focus is on finding the next Backpage. Once there’s a vacuum like this, something will come to fill it. The demand in the market for commercial sex is never going to stop.

Joy: I am working on my memoir Shooting Range. Sometimes I will get a grant here and there. I enter writing competitions. Now I will be entering a whole lot more of those. But, I have resources, financial resources. I would like to believe I’m an expert budgeter. I am okay in that sense.



Harpy Anna: I, personally, am going to probably look for a part-time job. Several of us have some regulars, but that is probably 25–50 percent of people’s business. That is not enough to sustain you. I have been exploring the idea of freelancing in the bars.

Sarah: Backpage gave me a basic screening tool, which led to money, food, and shelter. Backpage wasn’t at fault for Barn Cat being abusive, or for the few men I ran into who really got off on hurting me in ways I don’t want to describe. Backpage didn’t turn me into a sex worker, any more than YouTube can turn people in musicians or comedians. It was just the medium. An accessible and free medium.



Joy: This has just changed everything. I know girls are going to be struggling because everyone is saying, “Those streets are going to be packed.” We have been working out of the privacy of our homes for over a decade and hotels and motels and extended-stays. I am sure people have probably been working out of campers and RVs, too. But now, where are they going to go?

Natalia: I am definitely scared. I don’t want to not finish school. It is a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, a lot of frustration mainly because that was the way we felt safe. I don’t think I have the courage to go on the street and do this kind of work. Ever.

Trinity: Well, I am still here. I am still in New Orleans. I have been doing this for a long time, maybe about ten years. I am thinking about going back to the streets, but it is just so dangerous, and the police don’t understand getting a job isn’t easy for everyone. New Orleans has just installed a bunch of new crime cameras. They are criminalizing everything … They have always criminalized being transgender and walking the streets late at night.



Sarah: And yes, I tried to get out. On three occasions, I walked up to police officers and said “Help me, I’m a prostitute, that man makes me post ads and takes my money, please take me or him to jail” and they laughed at me and turned me away. I’m white, that’s all that saved me, I think. I’m still mad at those cops. HELLO OFFICER I AM DOING CRIMES RIGHT NOW PLEASE SAVE ME. Nothing.



Glenn: I knew someone who had, you know, she was mostly street-based, but she had a side hustle doing the Craigslist personals, and even that just makes you able to say no to maybe one dicey street client that week, you know?

Simone: I’m in a Facebook group where one woman is going as far as to reaching out to her software and dev friends about moving Backpage onto a Tor browser, onto the dark web. It’s really inspiring but also makes you think, Why aren’t I doing more?

Joy: Who is going to benefit off of this now? All of the police stations when they are out there arresting the sex workers. This has nothing to do with morals. This has nothing to do with Christianity. Don’t give me that s**t. You can go on down the road with that. This is real life.


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RainbowUnion
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13 Apr 2018, 1:09 pm

I would add that I have *NO* problem with prostitution *WHATSOEVER* so long as it is consentual between adults. As one of the people above rightly put it, this will *NEVER* go away. There will *ALWAYS* be men looking to buy and women looking to sell. We need to accept this reality and move on.


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15 Apr 2018, 12:21 pm

Also, just because bp is down doesnt mean there wont be 12 more sites just like it in a week. The internet is an unsinkable ship by design.


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16 Apr 2018, 2:36 am

Human Trafficker One: Hey, HT2! Are you ready to sell some kids for sexual purposes today?

Human Trafficker Two: I would, but we can't! They shut down Backpage.com!

Human Trafficker One: Curses! Foiled again!


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03 Jun 2018, 9:16 am

Update on this: Firstly, prostitution adds still abound online. Who didn't see that coming? And now they are much harder to monitor and police, because they are not all concentrated in one space. Police relied on backpage to run their stings and find underage prostitutes, and now they have shot themselves in the foot big time.


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03 Jun 2018, 5:00 pm

RainbowUnion wrote:
Update on this: Firstly, prostitution adds still abound online. Who didn't see that coming? And now they are much harder to monitor and police, because they are not all concentrated in one space. Police relied on backpage to run their stings and find underage prostitutes, and now they have shot themselves in the foot big time.
Not really. As long as there are people whose job it is to seek out human traffickers and others who profit by human trafficking, the arrest and prosecution of those criminals will continue unabated.

I myself have provided links to the FBI whoever I discovered another website devoted to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Some of those links have already been shut down since you started this thread. While we may not win this war, you can bet that those pervs will have to develop greater agility and better security protocols on their own before they can thwart the efforts of dedicated law-enforcement professionals and the concerned citizens who support them.

I mean, if those pervs can only trace my connection to a no-tell Motel frequented by parolees and homeless people, then how could they possibly suspect that I’m about to initiate a ‘sting’ against them?

:lol:


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03 Jun 2018, 8:23 pm

EzraS wrote:
Here's a news article about it. It appears the main problem according to it was sex trafficking. Missing teenagers and runaways being exploited and oppressed by pimps.

http://www.newsweek.com/people-are-goin ... own-876486


Except that's what happens MORE when sex workers are hidden away behind closed doors vs. out in the open in some sort of civilized fashion.

Pretending that prostitution isn't the oldest profession in the world & that it doesn't exist doesn't help anything. It makes it worse. More people will be trafficked, lives ruined by violence/drugs/abuse, and diseases contracted by doing things that force prostitution into the dark corners of society.

And like RainbowUnion, I've never used any of these services because I have no need for them. I simply think it's wrong to take actions against people that amplify problems instead of solve them.


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04 Jun 2018, 7:11 pm

goldfish21 wrote:
EzraS wrote:
Here's a news article about it. It appears the main problem according to it was sex trafficking. Missing teenagers and runaways being exploited and oppressed by pimps.

http://www.newsweek.com/people-are-goin ... own-876486


Except that's what happens MORE when sex workers are hidden away behind closed doors vs. out in the open in some sort of civilized fashion.

Pretending that prostitution isn't the oldest profession in the world & that it doesn't exist doesn't help anything. It makes it worse. More people will be trafficked, lives ruined by violence/drugs/abuse, and diseases contracted by doing things that force prostitution into the dark corners of society.

And like RainbowUnion, I've never used any of these services because I have no need for them. I simply think it's wrong to take actions against people that amplify problems instead of solve them.


:heart: Totally agreed.


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04 Jun 2018, 8:13 pm

EzraS wrote:
Here's a news article about it. It appears the main problem according to it was sex trafficking. Missing teenagers and runaways being exploited and oppressed by pimps.

http://www.newsweek.com/people-are-goin ... own-876486


All the more reason for prostitution to be legalised so it can be regulated and policed.


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