Backpage: An Unjust Enrichment


We know from past reporting that Backpage refused to impose meaningful requirements before sex ads were posted on their site because they believed the Communications Decency Act would give them immunity from suit for child sex trafficking. They also believed requiring photo identification would substantially reduce their profits, and harm their bottom line.

Rather than take any reasonable steps to prevent children from being advertised for sex on their website, the Backpage intentionally underreported the number of child sex ads on their website.

We’ve read previously how, in an internal email, the Chief Operating Officer of expressed concern with the number of ads that were being reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). He suggested the website “shouldn’t be [reporting] more than 16 a day” unless the defendants wanted to risk more than 500 reports a month to NCMEC.

The Backpage, and its staunchest defenders like Tony Ortega, have long understood that sex trafficking was rampant on Rather than do anything to prevent sex trafficking, the Backpage and its defenders have gone out of their way to assist sex traffickers in posting sex ads on their website so that they can generate more profits.

In one particularly egregious example, the Backpage accepted payment for advertisements of more than one woman or child from the same source. The Backpage also allowed one credit card to be used finance sex ads for several different woman or children at the same time, even going so far as to instruct sex traffickers how to pay anonymously in order to avoid law enforcement detection and criminal prosecution.

Despite knowing that sex traffickers were posting sex ads for many different women and children, the Backpage and its defenders turned a blind eye to crime of unjustly enriching themselves through modern child sex-slavery. We here believe we can no longer turn from the ugly facts surrounding the case and remain committed to shedding light on the Backpage and exposing its would-be defenders.

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