While Carl Ferrer will  testify against Backpage officials, will Tony Ortega step forward and come clean?

It was clear that Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer made a deal because his name was observed being absent from the indictment.

James Larkin, Michael Lacey and Tony Ortega have always claimed Backpage doesn’t control sex-related ads, but evidence show otherwise.

Tony Ortega believes he got away with his Backpage days but we are not so sure if that’s accurate. Ortega was not an innocent bystander and here are some of the statements he made in defense of his bosses and Backpage:

Seven years ago, the people I work for were smart enough to start  Backpage.com, a competitor to Craigslist. While other newspapers were doing little more than publicly condemning Newmark for the way Craigslist has, for years, eaten into their classified-ads revenue, we decided to fight back. That’s just how we operate.

Backpage.com  has since inherited some of the adult business that left Craigslist.  The Village Voice  itself has been taking such ads since the mid-1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, the adult business was a large part of the paper. Today, it’s a smaller presence in the print edition, and the  Voice’s website has no adult advertising—that business appears only atBackpage.com.

Backpage.com  is not a newspaper. It’s an Internet bulletin board where people can place ads for anything from rental apartments to bicycles to lawnmowers. And, yes, it’s a place where adults can post notices so that other adults can contact them.

What happens when two adults find each other through  Backpage.com? I couldn’t tell you. The whole point of  Backpage.com  is that we aren’t involved after two consenting adults find each other through the community bulletin board, which exists solely so that people can freely express themselves—sometimes in ways that make other people uncomfortable. We’re  First Amendment  extremists that way. Always have been.

We’ve spent millions of dollars putting in place strict policies and monitoring services to make sure that it is only adults finding each other through  Backpage.com‘s adult pages. Not only do we have security specialists making constant searches for keywords that might indicate an underage user, but we’re quick to cooperate with law enforcement and theNational Center for Missing and Exploited Children  when we find suspicious ads. In some cases, our reports about suspicious ads have resulted in underage runaways being traced and recovered—as opposed to the underground economy of bus stations and street corners where kids are truly invisible.

Backpage’s 123 employees, who screen about 20,000 ads every day, alert NCMEC when they find something suspicious, who in turn contacts law enforcement. That process triggered 230 reports last month. 

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