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Backpage.com seized by U.S. justice authorities (reuters.com)
317 points by mzs 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 319 comments



Both sex worker anecdotes, and some larger studies, suggest the availability of such online services actually reduce violence, homicide, and sex trafficking. See for example:

https://thinkprogress.org/craigslist-erotic-services-platfor...


Agreed. The feds just destroyed what could have been their biggest ally against sex trafficking. Even if BackPage itself was not cooperative, the fact that the feds didn't have some sort of automated system that would scrape phone numbers/emails from this site, get warrants to monitor them, and then send humans to assist the girls and arrest the pimps, is unreal to me. They literally had a directory of sex trafficking victims and victimizers that has now been destroyed and pushed underground. This in no way fixed the problem, it just spread it out and made it orders of magnitude harder to deal with.

The larger issues surround freedom of speech and the protections that online service providers have. I would have expected this kind of thing to happen after FOSTA was officially signed into law, which hasn't happened yet. Apparently Michael Lacey, a cofounder of Backpage, has been criminally charged [1]. I don't know all the issues involved, but overall it's a scary day if you own a website that has anything to do with personal ads.

[1] https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-investiga...


This is a common question in law enforcement: once you discover a facilitator or illegal activity, how long do you monitor it before attacking? You can learn a lot by watching, but eventually you have to Do Something or you become complicit.

It’s a challenging strategic issue.


>how long do you monitor it before attacking

Considering the large percentage of people in this space that were using BackPage, I think the answer to your question should have been whenever they had proven so effective at busting the pimps posting on there that usage had gone down significantly. As I said, I’d have automated the process, even the production of warrants to get text messages/emails associated with a given ad. Have software fill in the blanks on a template warrant with all the necessary legal language and details about BackPage, auto-email that template to an on-duty detective and have them review, print, sign, and submit it to a judge. Have the software record all the ads in a database and prioritize cases by the number of ads a given email/phone number appears in.

One agency like the FBI could have created the system, then given it to all local law enforcement agencies across the country for free so that they could carry out the process locally. They could have nabbed thousands of pimps and sex traffickers this way.


> unreal to me

would it be less unreal if you didn't consider the goal to be actually stopping sex trafficking etc, but to set precedent eroding freedom of speech and online service provider protections, under the guise of "for the children" and "obscenity"?


Get over the idea law enforcement is here to protect as a priority. They have proven over time its just a capitalist business looking for more clients. Their job is to put as many people in jail as possible with quarterly growth.


Enforcement of the law has become self-serving and those in power seem to enjoy that power. Arbitrary laws need to end. jaywalking, marijuana, escorting, a busted tail light .. these things need pep talks not forces of swat teams.


I agree with you that escorting itself should be decriminalized - I don't think that any woman who decides to make a living that way should face arrest for doing so. However, sex traffickers and pimps have to go. These people terrorize the women that work for them, often beating and sometimes killing them. The women are often kidnapped or extorted into working for these guys in the first place. Worst of all, they take their earnings from them, ensuring that they'll never be able to escape that lifestyle.

I was in the Las Vegas airport a few weeks ago. When I went to the bathroom, on the inside of the stalls, the Las Vegas Metro Police had placed notices with a phone number saying that help for victims of human trafficking is available. I noticed several billboards around town with the same message. If this has become such a widespread problem that law enforcement has resorted to trying to contact victims in airport bathrooms on their way into town, then they need to step up efforts nail the pimps and traffickers. This shutdown of BackPage was a big step backwards in that effort.


If this has become such a widespread problem that law enforcement has resorted to trying to contact victims in airport bathrooms on their way into town, then they need to step up efforts nail the pimps and traffickers.

The assumes the law enforcement is sincere in its effort. Actual story could well be:

1. Put up ads everywhere seeking to help victims so as to convince the average person the problem is huge.

2. Pass sweeping repressive measure allowing unselective seizure of sex-ad websites.

3. Profit through increased funding, influence and programs (no ??? needed).


It's not only women that make their living in sex work.

Are support people necessarily victimizers? Is someones driver automatically their pimp? Is the realtionship better or worse if it was transacted through an app?

If someone hosts child pornography on an AWS hard drive; should Jeff Bezos go to jail for it?

There's a lot of subtlety here.

And a government that is manifestly and overtly corrupt has no business enforcing morality on people.


Good point. I think that escorting itself should be actually legalized. Not only because they would pay tax and have a better life than they have now, but also because this would make pimps obsolete and would help cracking down sex traffickers. Men/women using a legal escorting service could check for license/id, making the whole thing safer for everyone.


Sex traffickers and pimps are for prostitution as gangs and the mafia are for drug sellers. We have legal marijuana without gang shootings, murder and smuggling, so the problem seems to be one about competition and making the legal options more competitive to the consumer compared to the illegal one. Preferable by making a self reinforcing environment where as more money getting put in the legal sector the more incentive the police has to go after the illegal one and the more the costumers want to spend at the legal one.


Why do you think jaywalking and busted tail light are bad laws? They make driving safer.


As a non-american jaywalking laws seem utterly crazy. The onus should be on the driver not to hit pedestrians, not the other way round


Too many bureaucracies become self-serving, and prioritize their self-preservation, rather than extinguishing the problems they're tasked with. This is not just my idea, it's well-studied, and has developed into studied phenomena, such as bureaucratic inertia.

Our public policy needs to somehow control incentive structures of these organizations. For example, the War on Poverty has spent trillions, with no measurable reduction in poverty. The War on Drugs, Prison State, Military Industrial Complex. And it appears to be even a cultural problem: CNN tells us we need to maintain an economy of killing innocents in order to keep jobs[1]. So many things are backwards.

In other words, perhaps public policy needs to fundamentally change the way it establishes and preserves government entities, in order to ensure their incentives align with their purpose.

1 - https://theintercept.com/2016/09/09/wolf-blitzer-is-worried-...


No it's not. It's the job of law enforcement to, unsurprisingly, enforce the laws. If you have a problem with the laws being enforced, call your congressman.


Except cops don't follow the law. They setup illegal processes like automatic speed cams and parking rules designed for pure profit, they shoot people in the back, they continually promise to protect people but in reality they do nothing besides impose their will and take the peoples property and money.


Say that about anyone, if you cherry-pick hard enough. Yes there are some cops that misbehave, and its especially damning because of who they are. Get that. But blanket statements like "they do nothing but..." aren't contributing much?


When your legal system gives the benefit to the police about NOT knowing the law and to everyone else that not knowing the law is no excuse and when your legal system does not apply the same penalties to the police for infractions of the law as to the citizens (slap on wrist to police, throw citizen into prison for long periods of time for the same offence) then you have a problem.

For the USA, there is an endemic problem with all law enforcement and there is various serious documentation about this. That is not to say that the USA is the worst, there are many other countries that have a much more deadly situation. However, for a country that is supposed to be the leaders of the free world, it is rapidly getting the reputation of being third world in this matter.

When other countries warn their citizens not to have interactions with any US law enforcement then you should realise that there is a serious problem in the USA.


This is important and most people don't realize this. This is the sex work equivalent of banning drug reagent kits.


I think it's probably more accurate to say most people don't care. The average person isn't approaching policy discussions thinking about real-world effects; if one can't be bothered to spend ten seconds googling the effect of a policy before they talk about or vote on it, that pretty handily crosses the line from ignorance to agency (in the form of willful ignorance).

The sad fact is, the vast majority of people are far more interested in how policies look, what they signal, and how voicing support for them makes them look. The actual effects the policy may have is way, way down the list of motivating factors, if it even enters their mind at all.


Ten seconds?

People who dedicate their lives to researching proposed policies still don't agree about their effects.

A quick search will find the leading arguments pro and con, but no way to know which arguments are right.


Yes, your level of confidence in an issue should be proportional to the amount of effort you've put into understanding it and inversely proportional to uncontroversial metrics of how complex the issue is. I was bemoaning those who can't even be bothered to do ten seconds of research, not claiming that that's the maximum anyone ever needs to do.

> A quick search will find the leading arguments pro and con, but no way to know which arguments are right.

This is an incredibly significant milestone in understanding an issue though. There are many many many people who entirely lack exposure to one half of the discourse on an issue; this is exacerbated by the fact that it's increasingly en vogue to consider it a moral failing to even consider the other side's arguments (even for the purposes of rebuttal).


Status quo it is then.


It's sort of like utilitarianism is losing to deontology, except that many of the decision-makers don't really even seem smart enough to compare the two. It's more arbitrary.


I wouldn't say losing. Pragmatism is making progress; obedience to arbitrary rules, while still powerful, is declining slowly.


That's a bit disingenuous to say. A lot of policies are complex and a 10-second google search is unlikely to bring you anywhere near competence from willful ignorance.

Consider, for example, the science on minimum wage experiments performed in different cities and at different time intervals. The outcomes are conflicting in some cases and, perhaps, are not reproducible elsewhere.

How can we expect a layman to really understand the effect a policy may have, especially 20 years down the line? That's something even experts struggle with.


> A lot of policies are complex and a 10-second google search is unlikely to bring you anywhere near competence from willful ignorance.

I'm not talking about competence. I'm talking about people not leaving or even attempting to leave the state of willful ignorance.

> How can we expect a layman to really understand the effect a policy may have, especially 20 years down the line? That's something even experts struggle with.

It's obvious that my comment wasn't a plea for universal omniscience. None of this is relevant to my complaint about people deprioritizing the effects of a policy, as if it's not close to the _only_ thing that's important.

> Consider, for example, the science on minimum wage experiments performed in different cities and at different time intervals. The outcomes are conflicting in some cases and, perhaps, are not reproducible elsewhere.

This is a perfect example, thank you. Do you know what I would say if asked what I thought the effect of min wage changes are? _I would say I have no idea_, and anyone who tells you they do for sure is lying to you. Accepting that doesn't mean throwing up your hands in hopelessness, but it does suggest a different understanding of the effects of each policy than simply what feeling you get from hearing the one-line description.

Policy, and the world in general, generally isn't as simple as people would like it to be. In democracies, one's insistence on pretending that things work the oversimplified way you want them to has concrete costs to those affected by those policies and is more than a little despicable.


The first page I get when Googling "effects of minimum wage", [1], does not take a particularly simplistic view of the issue. The first paragraph says:

> Recent research shows conflicting evidence on both sides of the issue. In general, the evidence suggests that it is appropriate to weigh the cost of potential job losses from a higher minimum wage against the benefits of wage increases for other workers.

1. https://www.frbsf.org/economic-research/publications/economi...


So, what you're saying is.

"What kind of persimmon faced killjoy is against a little adult fun?" is a more effective line to use than a dissertation on all the benefits of legal sex work?


Wut?

Less pithily, I have no idea what you're trying to say and how it relates to my comment.


Many if not most politicians (and those pulling their strings) passing the laws to enable this crackdown absolutely understand what they are doing. This is about control, at a very basic level. Access to sex and control of sex are a huge lever for shaping society. Moves like this aim to push society in a "traditional" or "reactionary" direction.


And I might be more specific and say "control of women's sexuality". A lot of traditionalist mores are much more accepting of men's sexual liberty than women's.


Yes as normal relationships break down under the stress of social inequality sex becomes not a human right but something only for the wealthy. This has a huge impact on health. They're pushing the limit, once they cut off food stamps for many even food will be something only for the wealthy. But DC may have many enemies but none take more hatred from them than the very citizens they are supposedly tasked to protect and serve.


We can only hope the elite take our food and women, it's time for a good riot in the streets.


It's like all the hiring of illegal immigrants, and then hounding them for coming here and doing the work.

I'm not trying to claim any kind of parity between the two.

I am saying, it's another form of persecuting the supply -- and putting it at increased risk -- in lieu of dealing with the demand or even being honest about it.

It's also another excuse -- vehicle -- for the prescriptive moralists. Who, the more they complain about something, seemingly inevitably turn out to be engaged in it themselves.

"I can't control myself. But, by God, I can control you!"

Sex trafficking is a horrendous circumstance. Unfortunately, I'm left with no trust in our politicians being honest brokers with respect to the laws they introduce. Even if they honestly want to address the problem, they will -- heh -- not be able to "control themselves" with respect to how they use the expanded powers, going forward.


It’s actually pretty similar.

It is pretty easy to find the meat processing plants, agribusinesses, construction companies, etc who demand labor at prices not possible on the legal market.

Likewise, it is very easy to find the johns soliciting prostitutes, even high end ones. (Recall former governor Eliot Spitzer)


Hopefully this will spur more constituencies to legalize regulated prostitution instead of having to excuse children being forced into slavery for the greater good of legitimate sex workers trying to make a living.


And note that nothing here is going to stop your duly elected congressperson from booking a 1st class flight to sex slave island. There are 20M+ victims of sex trafficking outside the United States. Some perspective: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/06/a-...


The analogy is misleading in the following way:

Hiring illegal immigrants harms low-skilled domestic workers and taxpayers. Prostitution is essentially a victimless crime.


How many prostitutes have you come across in your daily business (not in your leisure activities)? Many years ago, I was a taxi driver and came across enough doing that kind of work to see that each of them was similarly affected by the business they were in.

I always found them courteous and well mannered. But there was this hardness in them that I could only attribute to the business they were involved in. Almost a kind of lifelessness in them. It is not a victimless crime, it is full of victims - a profound disruption of humanity.

Prostitution has had various levels of acceptability in many societies over the millenia. In some it was a highly regarded position, in others completely unacceptable and everything in between in others.

There are those who choose it as a way of life, there are many others who are forced into it. When we are unwillingly or unable to help these as a society then we, as a society, are failing these vulnerable people as we fail all those who are vulnerable.


In the same way that hiring illegal immigrants hurts the market position of low-skilled domestic workers, hiring prostitutes hurts the market position of women who could otherwise demand more in exchange for sex.

Where did taxpayers come into it?


> In the same way that hiring illegal immigrants hurts the market position of low-skilled domestic workers, hiring prostitutes hurts the market position of women who could otherwise demand more in exchange for sex.

People (women or otherwise) who are trading sex for goods and services in the market are prostitutes.


Except that there are acceptable forms of doing so and unacceptable forms of doing so. Compare and contrast gold-digging versus being an escort.

Not to mention that there are acceptable places to do (small counties in Nevada) and unacceptable places to do so (everywhere else in the US). I won't even get into the number of countries that have either legalized or decriminalized this practice.

Finally, the best way to find sex trafficking victims seems to be decriminalization which removes the stigma of speaking out. What's really broken here is that the foot soldiers of sex trafficking seem to be against all this pending legislation, fearing it will drive the practice further underground, rather than assist with battling it.


> Compare and contrast gold-digging versus being an escort

Honest trade reduces opportunity for dishonest exploitation? Sure, I'll agree that's the case, but...


> People (women or otherwise) who are trading sex for goods and services in the market are prostitutes.

That's pretty much all women; what defines a prostitute is the transparent price schedule and lack of exclusivity.


I'm not even convinced that illegal immigration necessarily harms low-skilled domestic workers. At least in California's Central Valley (with which I'm at least somewhat familiar, having grown up there and having family and friends there), there's a significant shortage of agricultural labor because illegal immigrants are facing crackdowns while legal residents seem to have no desire to fill the positions even at $20+/hr wages. The only option farmers have left is automation, which would actively reduce the number of jobs available and be just as "harmful".

Taxpayers might be harmed, but I suspect they'd be harmed much more severely by food prices skyrocketing because farms don't have sufficient labor to keep up with the demand from a growing national population (let alone global; California is the leading - and in some cases the only significant - exporter of a staggeringly-large number of fruits and vegetables).

Meanwhile, cracking down on illegal immigrants' ability to work and live in the US gives employers of said immigrants more leverage ("work these long hours for chump change or we'll report you and your whole family to the authorities"). Amnesty programs and other means to convert illegal immigrants into legal immigrants shifts at least some leverage back to the illegal worker, which then allows better negotiating power for higher wages and thus addresses the supposed problem that illegal workers are undercutting legal workers.


<I'm not even convinced that illegal immigration necessarily harms low-skilled domestic workers.

These jobs used to pay a man enough to support a family. Where has the money gone? What happens if an illegal gets hurt? Do they get workmen's compensation? I'm sure they get a small settlement, the cut fixed, and sent home. All the people are complicit. It is all about growth and more profit. You can have a sustainable business and employees that get decent pay with benefits.


> These jobs used to pay a man enough to support a family.

$20/hour is enough to do exactly that in most places that don't start with "San" and end with "Francisco". I know full well that not every illegal-immigrant-hiring industry pays that well, but it's my understanding that agriculture does, and that's one industry that seems to be disproportionately affected by the lack of undocumented workers.

> What happens if an illegal gets hurt? Do they get workmen's compensation?

In California at least, as far as workmen's compensation is concerned, illegal immigrants qualify as "employees"[1], so if a legal immigrant (or natural citizen) is entitled to it, then so is an illegal immigrant.

Of course, this varies from state to state.

[1]: http://law.onecle.com/california/labor/3351.html


Labor is a much smaller component of agriculture costs than people assume.


I think a better analogy is a safe injection site for heroin users.


I don't think that's a good analogy at all. People have been hiring prostitutes for centuries. These sites help sex workers take control of their industry and bodies, vs being depending on street walking and abusive pimps.

The big danger in America is the equality between prostitute and sex trafficking. They are not the same thing, and yet we're being fed the line that they are (except in some counties in Nevada).


This is definitely true. These days it seems law enforcement and news agencies seem to use the terms synonymously. It's a very worrying trend because "sex trafficking" sounds much worse than just regular-ole prostitution.


It's possible that moving it off the street has made it so much less visible that these kinds of myths have developed about it much more easily. When hookers were out on the street corner it was a nuisance, but people could see that it was mostly voluntary. Online anonymity has made it more frightening to some.


Safe injection sites are only effective apparently when combined with legalization and/or decriminalization of the drugs injected, source: http://chasingthescream.com/

TLDR: the criminal lifestyle one must pursue to obtain illegal supercharged versions of the drugs is vastly more harmful than the drugs themselves when legalized. I see a lot of parallels here in equating all sex work to sex trafficking. Both sides have their points, but what is the most effective strategy to minimize sex trafficking?


Eh, that seems a little too loaded, all things considered. But definitely accurate in this case.


Basic neutral listing sites with links to resources like Backpage outwardly appeared probably are; to the extent that the allegations that the operators actively collaborated with and knowingly worked to conceal trafficking of minors, Backpage itself may not have been.

While there is clearly a crusade against the former (as the aerlier attacks on CLs erotic/adult services listings made clear), and that's probably why Backpage got lots of attention in the first place, it's not clear that the reality of Backpage matched the surface appearance or the reality of the earlier targets.


It's not being siezed because it was allowing adverts for sex.

It's being siezed because it collaborated with criminal gangs who were kidnapping children and selling those children for sex.

People who think Backpage was helping law enforcement keep track of child rapists should read what Backpage themselves admit.

For the "they help law enforcement" argument to work Backpage needed to have kept the orginal ad text submitted by the criminal gangs and then either report that to law enforcement, or have it available to turn over when given a court order. What they actually did add a filter that removed words suggestive of illegal activity and then post the ad anyway.

> At the direction of CEO Carl Ferrer, the company programmed this electronic filter to “strip” —that is, delete—hundreds of words indicative of sex trafficking ( including child sex trafficking) or prostitution from ads before their publication. The terms that Backpage has automatically deleted from ads before publication include “lolita,” “teenage,” “rape,” “young,” “amber alert,” “little girl,” “teen,” “fresh,” “innocent,” and “school girl.” When a user submitted an adult ad containing one of these “stripped” words, Backpage’s Strip Term From Ad filter would immediately delete the discrete word and the remainder of the ad would be published. While the Strip Term From Ad filter changed nothing about the true nature of the advertised transaction or the real age of the person being sold for sex, thanks to the filter, Backpage’s adult ads looked “cleaner than ever.” Manual editing entailed the deletion of language similar to the words and phrases that the Strip Term From Ad filter automatically deleted—including terms indicative of criminality

Clearly, the "they help law enforcement" argument is fucking bogus.

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...


The link is to the report from permanent subcommittee on investigations, and is very illuminating.

I have a big problem with this FOSTA law been passed in the dark with provisions such as retroactive effect which is clearly unconstitutional and indicates shoddy workmanship. But there looks to have been a very serious problem at Backpage.


I don't get it, why the criminal gangs want to get attention by including those words in their ads?


Obviously they wouldn't. But the terms are risque so they get censored.


There is confusion because there has been a seemingly deliberate effort to conflate sex work and human trafficking.


Well, it's also that human trafficking works under cover of these services hiding as legitimate sex work.

But yeah, it's made a LOT worse by the lack of empathy, compassion, and understanding (not to mention puritanical notions) people have towards sex work.


Not to mention most of the abolitionists are flat out lying...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/03/27/...


It's not that most anti-prostitution crusaders are lying, it's that those that aren't lying are relying on information from those who are.


Are you flat out lying when you say "most"?


Let's consider the incident in Seattle a few years back wherein a "sex trafficking" ring run by tech people was busted by the cops. Except there were no actual sex trafficking charges brought against anyone and the whole sting operation seems to have been funded from out of state.

https://www.thestranger.com/news/2018/03/24/25953235/king-co...

Backpage was pretty sleazy. I don't think anyone's going to miss them, but are you not at all alarmed that there's a sudden onslaught of legislation that is claimed to target "sex trafficking", but which also apparently requires the deletion of the personals section from Craigslist, censoring of pornographic Google drive content, and even dirty words from Word documents?

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/03/28/microsoft_services_...

Where is this heading? And do you trust the motives of the people behind it?


Yep, the sex trafficking angle has already been debunked.*

I've lost almost all respect for most modern feminists simply because they refuse to acknowledge actual logic and statistics - wage gap BS, sex trafficking hysteria, apex fallacy (e.g. the top 0.001% are over represented by cis white males, but we'll ignore the bottom 20% of laborers, homeless, disposables who are all male), etc.

My litmus test for any feminist is whether they support the legalization of prostitution. Logically, it's her body, her decision. Right?

Nevermind the issue with a male's ability to legally obtain sex / intimacy, even if paid - you'd think this would be considered a human right, deserving of more talk time than, say, the tax-free status of tampons, but I digress...

Feminists who use the sex trafficking BS as a defense against legalization of prostitution deserve 0 respect. They are simply opportunists, trying to establish a monopoly on access to sex, economically no different than Standard Oil, Microsoft, etc.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/03/27/...


This crosses into ideological flamewar of the kind we're trying to avoid here. Would you please not do that? Thoughtful discussion is the idea, not denunciatory rhetoric.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


You will find self-described feminists on both sides of this issue.


Well you have conservative and liberal feminists. Anita Sarkeesian is a great example of a conservative, sex-negative feminist who likes to cherry pick facts and video footage to support an anti-sexualized world view of women.

On the other side you have liberal feminists who are sex-positive, for regulated sex work and support Slut Walks.


It's not exactly conservative vs liberal; there are divisions on sex and the nature of being a woman even within the body of radical feminists.

I'm simplifying extraordinarily here, but one position might be "sex between men and women happens within the constraints of a patriarchal society and had inherent power imbalances, which is problematic; sex work is overwhelmingly poor and powerless women being exploited for sex by men" (at its extreme suggesting political lesbianism) and the other might be "there's nothing intrinsically anti-feminist about sex, and we can imagine forms of sex and sex work which are liberatory rather than oppressive. Sex work is often exploitative but is also work, and sex workers are women who deserve a voice and better treatment" (at its extreme leading to explicitly feminist pornography).

I prefer one to the other, but neither position is hypocritical.


[flagged]


These are called SWERF(sex worker exclusionary radical feminists) and is already an existing term in feminism that is currently under serious discussion in general communities if I understand it correctly. If you dislike SWERFs you’re in good (feminist) company.


The idea that men have a right to sex is absurd.


The idea of sex as a human right isn't absurd, just controversial. An example is a severely disabled person unable to find a partner. Criminalizing prostitution between two willing parties, could be seen as restriction of the right to a fundamental human experience.

That's the basis of the argument anyway.


That's the option to pay for it.

Fundamentally you should have the right to do what you want with your body.


> The idea that men have a right to sex is absurd.

All people have a right to sex, so long as it is consensual.


Not right to sex, right to "legally obtain sex even if paid."


Such an effort is not necessary, because countless studies have shown a clear link between prostitution and the modern slave trade. There is a reason that most modern abolitionist groups target sex trafficking - it’s all too common. It’s inevitable that where you find sex workers in any number, you will find sex slaves.

[1] https://orgs.law.harvard.edu/lids/2014/06/12/does-legalized-... [2] https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=link+between+prostituti... [3] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/chelsealyn-rudder/sex-for-sal... [4] https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/publications/links-bet...


You will find lots of wage theft in restaurants, but it's not helpful to discussing the problem to start using wage theft and the restaurant industry as interchangeable terms.


And ironically, if you wanted to actually tackle human trafficking, restaurants would be a good place to start -- back-house employees often work long hours and rarely have contact with the public, making it easy to conceal trafficked workers.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/03/29/521971468/in...


Exactly! You can keep the restaurant industry without the wage theft. Just do what Australia and New Zealand do: pay restaurant workers a living wage and not have a tipping culture.

Both those nations also have legalized sex work too.


New Zealand doesn't really pay restaurant workers a living wage. Most waitstaff will be on minimum wage, or near minimum (~$16-17 per hour). The living wage in NZ is $20 per hour.

Australia has it better. Most waitstaff I know are on at least $20 per hour, with penalty rates for working after 10pm or working on Sunday.


That assumes one has a right to dictate how someone else will manage their private property.

Ideas like a mandatory "living wage", that while possibly well-intended, amount to coercive impositions that are rationalized by dogmatic self-righteousness, and end up having pretty severe negative unintended consequences.

They're in the same class of laws as those prohibiting prostitution and drug-use.

himom 10 months ago [flagged]

UK and most of Europe has to. America the Great is stuck in the social Stone Age.


UK legal position is more nuanced than that. Money-for-sex is generally legal, but on-street soliciting, two prostitutes sharing a flat, some forms of advertising, and many other aspects of the sex trade are crimes. So you may be legal, depending on what kind of sex work you're doing. Or you may be not. It isn't Amsterdam.


Not saying being restaurant worker is peaches, but lets compare the two...

1) A worker in a restaurant has legal recourse if treated unlawfully in any way.

2) A worker in a restaurant can start their own restaurant to compete with their employer any time they like.

3) A worker in a restaurant is free to leave for a better paying job anytime they want.

4) A worker in a restaurant can disclose poor treatment to the press if they want.

Alternatively...

1) A sex worker often has no legal recourse without risking their life.

2) A sex worker often cant compete with their employer without risking their life.

3) A sex worker often cant leave their pimp without risking their life.

4) A sex worker can't disclose poor treatment to the press without risking their life.

See the difference?


These do not sound like compelling reasons to continue making sex work a crime. In fact, they sound like arguments for the opposite policy.


Please read the thread, I was addressing the other point that was made. Which is that a restaurant worker is a slave just like a sex worker.


Your “link” isn’t “the” cause. The causes are manyfold, including criminals operating under sex work prohibition. Human trafficking victims also are forced to be maids, concubines, surrogate mothers, salon workers, factory workers, etc.

You can’t “solve” human trafficking by attacking sex workers.


I believe you that there are 'countless studies' - whether they do show a link is debateable; the number of studies doesn't signify all that much on its own, other than the issue being belaboured by its proponents in gender studies, feminism, women's studies etc., as your links demonstrate.

As is so often the case, the opinions missing from these debates are those of prostitutes themselves.


To be clear, people were pimping out children on backpage. We’re not taking about consenting adults in every case.


They are also using Gmail to do that. Do you agree with the SESTA/FOSTA legislation?


Make a case that someone at Google knows what accounts are involved in this activity and is letting it happen so they can profit from it and then you'll have a fair comparison.


This is wrong. SESTA-FOSTA has dramatically lowered the bar. Some quotes:

"The new bill holds website owners legally liable for criminal prosecution for any sex trafficking discussions that are viewable on their platform."

"The legislation says a website is responsible if it “assists, supports, or facilitates” sex trafficking. Some of the vague wording opens up the bill for interpretation and has critics fearing frivolous lawsuits against platforms that didn’t know trafficking was happening on their site."

The bar is not "knowingly aided". The bar is "built a platform that someone else used to sex-traffic".


This is not that vague. If I post a comment about prostitution on HN, HN is not liable (HN is clearly not a sex trafficking site), whereas the operator of The Erotic Review is definitely within scope of getting fucked.

This is about eradicating purpose-driven websites related to prostitution. Backpage's C-team did some really, really bad stuff. No jury is going to convict the CEO of Reddit because someone somewhere posted a comment about prostitution on a subreddit. Section 230 still exists.


After the law was passed, Reddit immediately banned a large number of communities such as /r/Escorts, /r/MaleEscorts, /r/SugarDaddy, /r/weeddeals, and even seemingly benign subreddits like /r/cigarmarket, /r/scotchswap and /r/pipetobaccomarket, among many others. So it appears the CEO of Reddit disagrees with you about how broad his liability is under this law.


> So it appears the CEO of Reddit disagrees

Under the advice of his/her legal team (lawyers).


If I post a comment about prostitution on HN, HN is not liable

Are you sure? And are you in a position to be making that call?

No jury is going to convict the CEO of Reddit because someone somewhere posted a comment about prostitution on a subreddit.

That's probably why Reddit eliminated basically all the subreddits related to prostitution. They're also probably less concerned about their CEO being jailed than they are about massive fines.


I think the biggest issue is having your domain seized prior to trial and conviction.

MX records are gone at that point, so the press cannot contact general counsel for comments.


I'd like to offer you my services as a prostitute, and also as a trafficker of humans.


> This is about eradicating purpose-driven websites related to prostitution.

That's the propaganda, but the text does not restrict the limitation of Section 230 safe harbor to only apply to “purpose driven websites related to prostitution”.

> Backpage's C-team did some really, really bad stuff.

None of which requires modifying Section 230 to address.


In my view as a lawyer, SESTA guts Section 230. Nobody is going convict the CEO of reddit sure. But by the time you’re on trial for facilitating sex trafficking you’re pretty screwed already.

Laws need to be clear enough where you can head off charges before they are filed with a letter to an investigator explaining why any case would be doomed. Section 230 drew bright lines and enabled that. If prosecutors think they can get to trial, and SESTA makes that dramatically easier through its loose language, that dramatically ups their leverage.


So craigslist was/is a purpose-driven websites related to prostitution? The had to take down their entire dating section, which was both full of sex-workers and honest personals, because some of them might be trafficking victims. This is one of those cases where purportedly desired first order effects are minimal but obvious blue law second order effects dominate.


when the classifieds sites like craigslist took the erotic section down, people just post ads in the for sale section, the jobs wanted section, the small business section, the services section, basically any other section...


Gosh, it must be so awful for the market for transcriptional sex to spill over to those innocent boards, with the foul unnatural acts that everyone should be prevented. . . oh wait everyone who isn't a test tube baby is a product of a sex act. And look it's being offered for sale, as a contract or service job. Seems appropriate I hope the law bothers to catch up with reality.


They might use certain obscure language as a form of steganography. Just like certain words are non-descriptive (but become descriptive over time) such as in street language or street names for [certain] drugs.


TBH, that sounds sensible to me. Keep in mind that the words mean nothing without judicial process. In most cases vague language is intentionally introduced to give the judge latitude in handing out judgements. The stricter the language, the easier it is to find loopholes.


Google knows the unencrypted content of every email sent through its servers and has developed sophisticated technology to identify with great accuracy the subject matter and interests of the parties to the email for the purposes of serving them ad content which they sell space for to advertisers. They know, and they sell ads for profit based on that knowledge.


This is no longer the case. No email data is used for any ad targeting.

But yeah, similarly useful technology exists. I don't know if it's in use at all in order to fight abuse like this.

Source: https://blog.google/products/gmail/g-suite-gains-traction-in... (and I work on Gmail ads).


  No email data is used for any ad targeting
I know they claim that, but why do all clickable links in Gmail have google.com wrappers that are forwarding links to the desired destination?


So since apparently your employers are going through people's Google Drive accounts and removing pornographic content: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/9kgwnp/porn-on-go...

Doesn't that mean you are now on the hook for enabling sex trafficking with SESTA if a gmail account was used? Or is there a loophole wherein if you promise extra double hard not to look at said content, you're not liable? But in that case, why are you guys deleting teh p0rnz?


It's not clear to me how those two topics are related.

If it's about whether Google "knowingly" enabled sex trafficking, then it seems like a pretty simple argument is "sure, we knew about porn, but we didn't know about the sex trafficking" is a pretty reasonable defense.

Also, I don't know, I just work here.


This is obviously about silencing the entry points and advert channels for this kind of business.

If people were posting this on a public forum like Google Plus or something it would be a fair comparison. But Gmail hosting private accounts isn't quite the same.

And if there were a large infrastructure to use something like Gmail to traffic children then, yes, I would expect them to comply with the law to crack down on that behavior or face legal action.


If the CEO of Google orders google engineers to make it easier for sex trafficers to advertise kidnapped drugged children for sex, then yes, I'd support legal intervention in Google too.

People seem to think that all Backpage did was run ads.

That's wrong. You should read what they actually did.

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...


These are the allegations. The prosecutor's motive is to throw up all possible allegations without necessarily being proven, accurate or true. It is up to the courts to decide whenever guilty or not. I wouldn't use that document as proof of what they actually did. Anyhow, thanks for the link.


> These are the allegations.

You should read what Backpage themselves were saying. They claimed that the Communications Decency Act means they had no responsibility for that ads that appear. This was tested several times in court, and the courts often agreed with Backpage.

So, after those court cases Backpage knew that ads were appearing because that was a finding of the court.

Please read pages 7 and 8 which give details of some of the cases against Backpage.

EG

> Although the court concluded that the plaintiffs “ha[d] made a persuasive case” that “Backpage has tailored its website to make sex trafficking easier,” it nevertheless upheld the dismissal of the suit under Section 230 on the ground that the site’s features did not render Backpage a content-creator. The court noted that “[i]f the evils that the appellants have identified are deemed to outweigh the First Amendment values that drive the CDA, the remedy is through legislation, not through litigation


This^


Well in that same spirit of fairness, we should realize that we're not talking about people pimping out children in every case either.


Either way the legislation that was recently passed that apparently is empowering this seizure is applicable whether or not they are consenting adults.


> the legislation that was recently passed that apparently is empowering this seizure

The legislation that recently passed both Houses of Congress hadn't been signed or gone into effect yet, and had no bearing on the seizure (except to the extent that the seizure may have been delayed to advance the propaganda that the law was needed to deal with actors like Backpage.)


> To be clear, people were pimping out children on backpage. We’re not taking about consenting adults in every case.

Correct. And I'm all for legislation that empowers a group of LEOs to troll ads to find the people doing that and throw them in jail. Hell, I'd be fine with my taxes being raised to pay for it as well.

Backpage is scum and they clearly interacted with such criminals.

That said, the laws that have been created recently are not a good thing and are intentionally designed to enable reaching beyond the narrow goal we both agree on.


I’ve seen some of the studies and agree. That said, the senate report specific to backpage raises concerns.

I’ve personally donated to St James Infirmary in SF and related to charities that provide related protections.

Even in places where prostitution is legalized (Amsterdam), trafficking is an issue. When I was in Amsterdam 7 or so years ago, I recall stories of Russian and other traffickers.


The cynical would say that's why they get taken down by law enforcement.


The extra-cynical might even say that taking down sites like this contributes to a power imbalance between police and sex workers which too many police officers take advantage of:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/07/02/oakland-police-scanda...

https://babe.net/2017/07/11/perfectly-legal-cops-trick-prost...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_abuse_of_sex_workers_in...

I am not quite cynical enough to think that law enforcement pursues these sites for the purposes of maintaining that imbalance. There are many different attitudes towards sex work (and everything else) among law enforcement officers, and many of them probably really do believe they're doing it to keep kids safe.


Are you saying that they just want more work?

I was thinking that they wanted it to be more hidden... so that they could ignore it.


Until prostitution is legal, a nation will not be able to combat trafficking.


Except there is data to support the fact that even where prostitution is legal, trafficking is still a problem...

In fact, some studies suggest that legal prostitution actually enables trafficking to go unnoticed. If prostitution is illegal the police can crack down on any form of it they encounter, so if the prostitute in question is a victim of trafficking they're now in contact with law enforcement and might be given a way out.

With legal prostitution, the situation can go on much longer before law enforcement can step in and reach these victims.


You mean like studies like "Some anti-prostitution activists have tried to claim that Germany’s liberal form of legalization has encouraged sex trafficking. But they actually cite coercion among illegal sex workers (for example, those who are too young to legally work at a German brothel)". (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/03/27/...)

Who would have guessed that those remaining in the illegal sector do not enjoy the benefit of decriminalization, almost like decriminalization create a bigger divide between what is legal and illegal. I would guess the same thing happened to smugglers after the prohibition, where those staying as a smuggler had to start transporting much more dangerous stuff like guns, explosives and heavy drugs. The lives of those smugglers surly got worse on the average, where the lives of those who went from illegal to legal got significant better. But let not look at those whose life got better since that would hurt the message of the study.


> If prostitution is illegal the police can crack down on any form of it they encounter

The police doesn't do this. If they did this, they'd have busted tons and tons of people via this Backpage website plus some warrants. They don't because they don't care.


Prohibition never works, except for for-profit prisons, Christians, politicians and police agency stats.


It works for gangsters, organized crime, weapons merchants, and morticians.


>and some larger studies, suggest the availability of such online services actually reduce violence, homicide, and sex trafficking. See for example:

What study was this and how do we know its results are accurate and apply in this case?

Edit: Also, hopefully we as a society should be looking to reduce, not increase a trade where a human being has to sell themselves like a piece of meat.


> Edit: Also, hopefully we as a society should be looking to reduce, not increase a trade where a human being has to sell themselves like a piece of meat.

That's basically the argument against capitalism and wage-labor, sure. But, strangely, many people cheering shuttering prostitution marketplaces are quite happy maintaining and exacerbating conditions in which the bulk of the population is economically coerced to sell themselves like a piece of meat, they just prefer making conditions worse for those who don't have much to sell that is valued by anyone with the means to buy other than sex.


>That's basically the argument against capitalism and wage-labor, sure.

Yeah, we also don't allow child labor. I assume you don't have a problem with that? Capitalism doesn't work by itself. Human beings are social animals and all capitalist societies have a welfare component.

>But, strangely, many people cheering shuttering prostitution marketplaces are quite happy maintaining and exacerbating conditions in which the bulk of the population is economically coerced to sell themselves like a piece of meat,

That is ridiculous. "Many people" are certainly not happy to harm vulnerable sections of society. I have no clue who you're refering to. People are against prostitution for rational sane reasons.


Sex work != objectification; although the correlation ("in today's society") is really substantial. In other words, this is not inherently a trade where a human being has to sell themselves like a piece of meat; even if today, many/most people in this trade are being sold like a piece of meat.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_prostitution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2kJM9yQs9k

Arguably, this is an attitude problem on the demand side - people who want to buy other people like they're pieces of meat - rather than something about the supply, or the trade itself.

Here's a related interesting phenomenon: https://www.google.com/search?q=professional+cuddling

To end with a question: Would you consider professional dominatrixes to be in the trade [of selling themselves like meat]?


There is this funny practice if temporary marriages too.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikah_mut%27ah


> The iddah is intended to give paternal certainty to any child/ren should the wife become pregnant during the temporary marriage contract.

Offtopic but damn this is clever (back in the days).


That's fascinating. People gonna sex, and other people gonna sex 'em up, no matters what else. Where there's a will there's a way and all.


>Arguably, this is an attitude problem on the demand side - people who want to buy other people like they're pieces of meat - rather than something about the supply, or the trade itself.

Yes, which soliciting sex is also prohibited.

>Would you consider professional dominatrixes to be in the trade [of selling themselves like meat]?

I don't know. Are 40% of them former child prostitutes? Are they at a high risk of getting murdered? Do they get raped outside of work? Do the vast majority of them experience physical violence?


Perhaps not all people enjoy having sex in exchange for money, but there are a few people doing this job who like what they do. As long as noone is being coerced, it is fair game. At the same time many people will blame a prostitute for their lifestyle, yet the very same people will marry/date for money.

Edit: By the way you may find exchanging sex for money deplorable, but how about having sex for a promotion, or requesting sex in exchange for funding, how about sex for a home and meal. In reality people use sex all day in exchange for something. It is just when money is involved people flip.


>At the same time many people will blame a prostitute for their lifestyle, yet the very same people will marry/date for money.

No idea what imagined point you're replying to.

>By the way you may find exchanging sex for money deplorable,

Please don't put words in my mouth. I want to see fewer vulnerable people being exploited.

>but how about having sex for a promotion, or requesting sex in exchange for funding, how about sex for a home and meal. In reality people use sex all day in exchange for something. It is just when money is involved people flip.

Okay, .. and is this a good thing? I sure hope you don't think so...


Reducing violence, homicide, and sex trafficking are not the intention -- the intention is enforcing the law. If sex workers want to do their work then they can get on the first flight to Amsterdam.


...and if pre-1965 blacks wanted civil rights, they could get on the first flight to Africa.

Sometimes the law is just shit.


or Nevada


Everyone who's decrying the demise of backpage as a safe and beneficial place, please take a moment and read the first two pages of the Senate Report.

Backpage had a system in place to detect ads offering e.g. child sex and... edit those ads to conceal their criminal nature from detection by rephrasing the give-away words with less obvious ones. You would think they would report those ads, but no - they concealed.

[1] https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...


In Backpage's defense, they were instructed to block those words by their legal team and law enforcement, as those words are not allowed to be posted because they indicate sexual favors in exchange for money, i.e. prostitution.


They could have, you know, rejected the ads outright and/or passed the info on to law enforcement automatically. Simply filtering the words implies they knew what was going on but did just enough to (hopefully) have plausible deniability.


Yes exactly, I'd normally be a staunch defender of Backpage here, assuming they merely acted as a middle man ala Craigslist or any other listings site. Similar to ISPs with the Safe Harbour Act or Tor.

But Backpage actively helped these guys create ads that won't trigger any red flags. Instead of blocking the posts, warning them, or straight up banning them, the listing wizard directly suggested ways to conceal illegal activity after detecting 'bad' keywords, in order to help allow the user to continue to use the site.

This feature most likely had good intentions for other law abiding users, likely for the largely majority of cases, but it was pretty damn obvious how it also helps some seriously bad guys. You'd just have to look at some of the example keywords which would trigger this automated assistance...

Backpage played an active role not just a reactionary passive one. Which is why I understand and support legal action against them - although I'm not sure seizing is the right approach, but that's another story.


So... let's walk through this...

1) Paying customer creates an ad (I haven't used Backpage, but I assume they paid to create ads).

2) Paying customer enters some words that the Government has told Backpage not to allow.

3) Backpage's automatic web form error message says... "Hey, you've added some words the Government won't let you use... sorry... it's not us, it's Uncle Sam."

4) Customer changes words to get around filters... I assume things like "sex" turns into "s3x" -- or whatever the bare minimum number of changes were to get around the censorship.

5) Customer posts ads, skirts Government censorship; feels smug and satisfied for beating the system.

6) Government isn't happy that the intent of the filtered words wasn't enforced... expected Backpage to have more (costly) manual review of ads, instead of just exact keyword blocks on ad creation.

7) Backpage was like, "Manual review would destroy our business model..." so they fought it...

8) Government took over and shut them down.

Again, I haven't read anything on this... but that's my assumption based on how the Government and tech work. Am I wrong?


It's way worse than that.

Instead of just assuming, if you don't want to read it all, read just pages 2 and 3 (summary).

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...


You don't need government to know when things are wrong. This is a flawed worldview from which people criticize market-based approaches - as if there isn't already enough of an incentive to do good, without having to be forced to, or have your hand held at each step.

Posting ads for escorts which clearly indicate an underage girl or similar is obviously not something you want on your site.

In fact I don't see anywhere this has to be a list of keywords defined by the government at all?

And as the other user pointed out, it's far worse than a simple form error.


So in their defense, they were just following orders?


I don't think anyone's questioning whether the site facilitated child sex trafficking. I think they're questioning whether shutting them down does more harm than good.


It's not shutting down backpage that is the critical issue. As an operating business there's zero question it should be shut down for the egregious trafficking crimes they commited and its executives prosecuted aggressively where possible.

The question is: whether adult sex worker sites in general should be legal. I think the answer to that is very clearly yes. If you allow the market for adult sex worker sites to exist, backpage becomes trivial to replace, the market will take care of that overnight.


I read the report [1] and two pages you mentioned and it seems like a reach, in fact it has me more worried about the overreach and blaming them for trafficking after reading their major points against backpage. The arguments amount to backpage having a profanity/ad filter upon entering new ads and that their moderation/reporting on anything that got through was not fast enough.

Backpage essentially had a profanity and bad term filter on their ad posting software, like any site has when you post anything to take out derogatory terms.

The report says backpage 'knowingly concealed evidence of criminality' for removing bad terms? They didn't want people posting ads with these terms because they were bad words, not that they supported it.

> First, Backpage has knowingly concealed evidence of criminality by systematically editing its “adult” ads. As early as 2006, Backpage executives began instructing staff responsible for screening ads (known as “moderators”) to edit the text of adult ads to conceal the true nature of the underlying transaction. By October 2010, Backpage executives formalized a process of both manual and automated deletion of incriminating words and phrases, primarily through a feature called the “Strip Term From Ad Filter.”

> The terms that Backpage has automatically deleted from ads before publication include [insert terms that are bad] When a user submitted an adult ad containing one of these “stripped” words, Backpage’s Strip Term From Ad filter would immediately delete the discrete word and the remainder of the ad would be published.

That seems like ANY site filter out there and included bad words, derogatory words and words that traffickers might use to block them. Because they posted the ad later doesn't mean they 'knowingly concealed' it, it just means they blocked ads that have words they don't want advertised i.e. derogatory or bad words or words that seem underage even if it was a legal worker such as 'school girl outfit'.

They eventually even started blocking outright but let the user know what words were banned. Seemingly a basic profanity filter.

> Over time, Backpage reprogrammed its electronic filters to reject an ad in its entirety if it contained certain egregious words suggestive of sex trafficking. But the company implemented this change by coaching its customers on how to post “clean” ads for illegal transactions. When a user attempted to post an ad with a forbidden word, the user would receive an error message identifying the problematic word choice to “help” the user, as Ferrer put it. For example, in 2012, a user advertising sex with a “teen” would get the error message: “Sorry, ‘teen’ is a banned term.” Through simply redrafting the ad, the user would be permitted to post a sanitized version.

The items above seem mainly focused at adult sex workers. Basically legal sex workers using taboo words not trafficking... everyone knows 'teen' is a range starting at 18 and like under 30 on porn sites. Just strange that they call it concealing it when they are blocking it.

The argument for child sex trafficking is weak as well. It blocked people under 18 posting, if you changed the date/age it would post. Not sure how that is bad either, it was blocking underage posters. This is hardly encouraging it.

> Ferrer directed his technology consultant to create an error message when a user supplied an age under 18. He stated that, “An error could pop up on the page: ‘Oops! Sorry, the ad poster must be over 18 years of age.’” With a quick adjustment to the poster’s putative age, the ad would post.

The argument against child sex trafficking is weak as well and again seems more focused at sex workers.

> Backpage knows that it facilitates prostitution and child sex trafficking. In addition to the evidence of systematic editing described above, additional evidence shows that Backpage is aware that its website facilitates prostitution and child sex trafficking. Backpage moderators told the Subcommittee that everyone at the company knew the adult-section ads were for prostitution and that their job was to “put[] lipstick on a pig” by sanitizing them. Backpage also knows that advertisers use its site extensively for child sex trafficking, but the company has often refused to act swiftly in response to complaints about particular underage users—preferring in some cases to interpret these complaints as the tactics of a competing escort. Backpage may also have tried to manipulate the number of child-exploitation reports it forwards to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The statements, unless there is other supporting evidence, seem like conjecture and again mainly focused at online prostitution advertising not trafficking.

The company employees said "everyone at the company knew the adult-section ads were for prostitution and that their job was to “put lipstick on a pig” by sanitizing them". Well yeah because that is what that section was for probably. How does that relate to child trafficking? Just because they weren't fast to moderate reports doesn't mean they condoned it, "refused to act swiftly in response to complaints".

The items about delayed reporting is bad and if they knowingly had underage people on there that is bad, but most of that just seems like conjecture and the reporting/moderation delays can simply be just that slow processes at any company, on a large site it might take time to moderate it.

This still seems like an attack on sex workers who are adult and the site backpage, the report throws in 'child sex trafficking' to make it seem worse. As if backpage wanted to threaten their whole market position for sex workers and revenues for illegal activity.

Really surprised this whole argument basically is against their profanity/term filter to PREVENT bad postings and they were later moderating it and reporting it just not fast enough apparently. You can't even get a response from youtube quickly but backpage can respond to every claim 24x7.

This is an attack on online sex worker advertising full on.

[1] https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...


What do you think of this site? https://vipfavours.com/ Looks like no pimps involved.


Legal problems against Backpage have been brewing for awhile. Its CEO was arrested in 2016 and charged with pimping. The pimping charges have since been thrown out but he and his fellow execs face 27 other charges, including money laundering: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article168969032.html


Yup, people would like to spin this as the government cracking down on garden-variety prostitution, yet Backpage in particular has many dubious ties to child trafficking.


> Yup, people would like to spin this as the government cracking down on garden-variety prostitution, yet Backpage in particular has many dubious ties to child trafficking.

The law does criminalize any activity relates to prostitution, not sex trafficking. That's not spin - that's literally the express purpose of the law as written. It's not a coincidence that the law is written to apply to all forms of sex work.

Blumenthal, the senator who authored the bill, has been personally crusading against sex work from the past decade, longer than he's even been in the Senate. He chose Backpage as the particular target for this bill, but it's not like he hasn't gone after any and all forms of sex work in the past.


What are those ties? The article above only mentions "adult services" and sex work.


When users submitted listings with keywords like "young girls" (and worse) it would automatically detect them and suggest edits to allow the listing to still be posted without triggering any red flags. Among other things (?).

Which is why the feds believe they crossed the line into actively assisting criminal activity when they should have just been dissuading or outright blocking the people creating this type of content on the site.


It isn't a spin because it has resulted in a crack down in garden variety prostitution and a shutdown of multiple services (including ones that were purely defensive exercises of free speech, such as unsafe/bad date lists).


I expect the coming allegations will detail conspiracy to commit a crime and/or RICO between the people running the site and sex traffickers.

The key thing that will need to be proven is the complicity of the admins, although if they are already seizing the site I expect the authorities have what a judge or grand jury feels is enough evidence to warrant the seizure.


> The key thing that will need to be proven is the complicity of the admins

No. That's what used to be necessary, before SESTA and FOSTA passed[0]. The whole point of SESTA and FOSTA was to remove that requirement - websites are now liable even if they aren't complicit. Even if they take active efforts to combat sex work on their service, they're still liable if someone manages to use the site for that purpose.

Again, none of this relates to sex trafficking. It applies to consensual sex work.

[0] And even though SESTA and FOSTA aren't signed into law yet, Blumenthal specifically wrote the law to apply retroactively. So once the bills are signed, this lower standard is what will apply.


> The whole point of SESTA and FOSTA was to remove that requirement - websites are now liable even if they aren't complicit.

FOSTA has an intent to facilitate prostitution requirement, SESTA has a lower threshold with regard to trafficking.

> Again, none of this relates to sex trafficking. It applies to consensual sex work.

True of FOSTA, but not SESTA.

> And even though SESTA and FOSTA aren't signed into law yet, Blumenthal specifically wrote the law to apply retroactively.

At least as far as criminal liability goes, that is a fairly direct violation of the prohibition on ex post facto laws; for civil liabilities that would otherwise be barred by the Section 230 safe harbor, though, that's not an issue.


Then how come I don't see Zuckerberg and Sandberg behind bars yet?

Don't tell me there is none, or never been a sex trafficking thru Facebook.


> Then how come I don't see Zuckerberg and Sandberg behind bars yet?

Well, because SESTA hasn't gone into effect yet. You can bet once it does there will be at least private civil cases against Facebook. Public, including criminal, ones might take until they've got precedent from smashing less well-funded defendants, but they'll come, too, especially (even if Facebook takes drastic action now to prevent future liability) for past cases under the retroactivity provisions (which should be constitutionally problematic for criminal cases, but not so much for civil cases.)


There is no ticker symbol for backpage in their portfolio.


Laws like this are selective in nature.


That one's simple: bribery.


The problem is, they passed a bunch of legal changes recently under the guise of "Well, it is because Backpage cannot be brought to Justice."

And now, well, "Oh yeah we had the power all along" which is what your comment is stating as your belief.

That is why your claims about spin are problematic to me. You are ignoring the background of the situation to make a very narrow claim about "spin" when the claims of "spin" are about the laws they passed citing Backpage.


SESTA has not been signed into law so I’m not sure what you’re talking about, unless the sex workers were on the Backpage payroll.


Lacey and Larkin, who started New Times and Village Voice have been getting falsely arrested to try to shut them up multiple times because they are very ardent civil rights donators and organizers [2] and cause big trouble for authoritarians like Arpaio in Arizona [3].

My guess is all of the charges will be dropped as it was mainly to ad hominem them to allow this Backpage takedown.

> Backpage started as the literal back page of the New Times, filled with classified ads. [1]

The New Times has a history in being pro-civil rights and anti-war [3][5].

> The Phoenix New Times is a free alternative weekly Phoenix, Arizona newspaper, published each Thursday. It was the founding publication of New Times Media (now Village Voice Media), but The Village Voice is now the flagship publication of that company.[3]

> The paper was founded in 1970 by a group of students at Arizona State University, led by Frank Fiore, Karen Lofgren, Michael Lacey, Bruce Stasium, Nick Stupey, Gayle Pyfrom, Hal Smith, and later, Jim Larkin, as a counterculture response to the Kent State shootings in the spring of that year. Gary Brennan played a role in its creation. According to the 20th Anniversary issue of the New Times, published on May 2, 1990, Fiore suggested that the anti-war crowd put out its own paper. The first summer issues were called the Arizona Times and assembled in the staff's La Crescenta apartments across from ASU. The Arizona Times was renamed the New Times as the first college issue went to press in September 1970.[3]

New Times has been kicking up dust on authoritarianism since the 70s. Lacey and Larkin also won a lawsuit against Arizona as recently as 2013 for false arrest which is still used to attack them [3].

> In December 2013, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay Phoenix New Times founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin $3.75 million to settle their false arrest lawsuit against the county defendants.

Take a look at their civil rights fund to see what I mean about how they take authority orgs/politicians to task and encourage civil rights [2].

They have been trying to take down the New Times, Village Voice Media and Backpage for nearly a decade and a half [3].

Both Larkin and Lacey are big civil right advocates and donate heavily to civil rights causes, sex rights, gay rights and immigrant rights [2][3] and the New Times attack politicians for corruption on the regular. After they attacked Arpaio they had nearly a decade of attacks from him and associated groups [3]. They did a strange tactic attacking Larkin and Lacey going after New Times readers data and identities which Lacey and Larkin refused to give up.

> In October 2007, Maricopa County sheriff's deputies arrested Lacey and Larkin on charges of revealing secret grand jury information concerning the investigations of the New Times's long-running feud with Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio. In July 2004, the New Times published Arpaio's home address in the context of a story about his real estate dealings, which the County Attorney's office was investigating as a possible crime under Arizona state law. A special prosecutor served Village Voice Media with a subpoena ordering it to produce "all documents" related to the original real estate article, as well as "all Internet web site traffic information" to a number of articles that mentioned Arpaio. [3]

Arpaio tried to get all information on all Phoenix New Times readers and the paper has been known to be tough on Arpaio overreaches in Arizona on immigrants and civil rights advocates.

> The prosecutor further ordered Village Voice Media to produce the IP addresses of all visitors to the Phoenix New Times website since January 1, 2004, as well as which websites those readers had been to prior to visiting. As an act of "civil disobedience", Lacey and Larkin published the contents of the subpoena on or about October 18, which resulted in their arrests the same day.On the following day, the county attorney dropped the case after declining to pursue charges against the two. [3]

> The special prosecutor's subpoena included a demand for the names of all people who had read the Arpaio story on the newspaper's website. It was the revealing of the subpoena information by the New Times which led to the arrests. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas dropped the charges less than 24 hours after the two were arrested [3]

> In the weeks following the arrests, members of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, of which the Phoenix New Times is a member, provided links on their websites to places where Arpaio's address could be found. This was done to show solidarity with the Phoenix New Times.[3]

There is a strange section of the Backpage report attacking Lacey and Larkin for selling it to an outside investor who is offshore. They appear to hide ownership from them some might say wisely if it is being the whipping boy for 'trafficking' claims when really it is a sex worker ad website [4].

> Third, despite the reported sale of Backpage to an undisclosed foreign company in 2014, the true beneficial owners of the company are James Larkin, Michael Lacey, and Carl Ferrer. Acting through a complex chain of domestic and international shell companies, Lacey and Larkin lent Ferrer over $600 million to purchase Backpage from them. But as a result of this deal, Lacey and Larkin retain significant financial and operational control, hold almost complete debt equity in the company, and still receive large distributions of company profits. According to the consultant that structured the deal, moreover, this transaction appears to provide no tax benefits. Instead, it serves only to obscure Ferrer’s U.S.-based ownership and conceal Lacey and Larkin’s continued beneficial ownership[4].

The whole report on Backpage, and their owners Lacey and Larkin who started New Times and Village Voice, might be a massive ad hominem [4]. It also appears to be an attack on owners of alternative media influence and funding for civil rights matters [2].

My guess is Lacey and Larkin, civil rights fighters that seem similar to Larry Flynt [2], won't let this just happen and they'll fight it. Most of the attacks on Backpage, and previously the New Times and Village Voice, attacks their character via ad hominems because they are causing trouble for authoritarians and pushing alternative news media funding, my guess is this takedown of Backpage is no different.

I have posted more here on it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16780579, everytime they have been arrested they have later been cleared and even won damages for false arrest in 2013 in Arizona. It is easier for authoritarians to win initially against civil rights advocates if you associate them with bad things and ad hominems, but the truth prevails. This could be a modern day civil liberties event unfolding.

[1] https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2018/04/0...

[2] http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_New_Times

[4] https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...

[5] http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/


Backpage was a major example of why SESTA/FOSTA was "necessary". It seems convenient that it wasn't taken down until after the passage of SESTA (despite the fact that the takedown did not leverage any of the new provisions, AFAICT (EDIT: as cft points out, the bill has not yet been signed by the President, so clearly it was not necessary))


SESTA has not been signed by Trump yet afaik. In this case, it actually shows that to take down Backpage SESTA was unneeded.



Backpage.com was a general purpose onlined classified system that included a handful of adult services sections among dozens of others. The use of “sex marketplace” here explains the basis of the seizure, but is misleading as a description of the site seized (Unlike, say, the myredbook.com seizure, which was a straight-up sex marketplace.)


I recall visiting Backpage 4-5 years ago to crosspost some stuff I was trying to sell on CL. I took one look and closed the tab. It was incredibly obvious what their business was focused on.


I think they started as a general purpose classifieds, but there were a lot of other options for all the non-sex ads so they lost a lot of the "general purpose" users and attrition led to them mostly being prostitution classifieds.


There's a little more than just that being alleged here:

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...


First they came for the prostitutes, and I said nothing, because I was not a prostitute.


Well, more accurately, they appear to have come for the pimps.


How is coming for the webpage that acts as a marketplace coming for the pimps?


I was using 'pimps' as short-hand for the people brokering sex worker transactions, be they platform admins or some guy named Icepick.

My sense is that, in most cases, sex workers do not act as their own agents, so I see backpage as a platform catering to pimps et al.

Though I guess there's an argument to be made that sites like backpage make it easier for sex workers to disintermediate pimps, which I imagine would be a good thing.


> My sense is that, in most cases, sex workers do not act as their own agents

Your sense is totally wrong. Sites like craigslist and backpage make it easier for sex workers to pre screen johns. Cold street approaches are nearly impossible to screen and very dangerous, hence pimps. This shutdown further entrenches the dominance of pimps over sex workers and makes sex work significantly more dangerous.


> My sense is that, in most cases, sex workers do not act as their own agents, so I see backpage as a platform catering to pimps et al.

Just fyi, you are mistaken. That is the whole reason they have to force/traffick people and trap them rather than just recruit. Anyone here legally and does that sort of sex work has mostly moved away from the pimps.

> Though I guess there's an argument to be made that sites like backpage make it easier for sex workers to disintermediate pimps, which I imagine would be a good thing.

Legal adult citizens who were prostitutes were doing exactly that.

Pretty much since "online personals" became a thing, sex workers quickly removed all the intermediaries beyond the ads.


[flagged]


So why make it a felony to do sex-worker outreach then? Because that's what being proposed in California with SB 1204.

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml...


> Nice rose-colored world you’ve got there.

It is based upon, among other things, setting up and working with such people via sites they could share bad date lists among other things once upon a time. My view is colored by actually talking to such people over the years.

I had to shut that particular project down recently as I'm not willing to take the legal risk.

> It may be that the ones you interact with are all 21st century liberated online safe sex workers, but spend some time in the real world. Volunteer at a women’s shelter or a neo-abolitionist organization like A21, talk to cops who work in vice - pimping (the ugly side with the beatings and the forced drug use) is still very much a thing, even online.

You are simply stating "Well, it isn't 100% solved so clearly you are delusional."

It will never be 100% solved. No problem that involves the abuse of human beings for profit can be 100% solved in a capitalist society and the delusion it can be is genuinely harmful. It simply creates more destruction.

I'm sorry but this fantasy utopia where you can simply make things illegal and actually have 100% prevention is delusional to the point of harmful to real human beings.


No. Sex workers regularly screen clients.

Right from their phone. There are even Geocities-like web services that they can get a webpage at that have built-in screening workflows. And screening-agent-as-a-service's exist that will middleman for the sex worker.

Shutting down online marketplaces removes the safest options that sex workers have.


And if you combine this nonsense with the pending SB 1204 in California, just the act of helping someone screen a client (or even handing a streetwalker a condom) will become pandering and therefore a felony punishable by 3+ years in prison. Do you feel safer yet?

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml...


Their plan is to free the sex workers from bondage then? No pun intended..


-3 votes? Seriously, what's wrong with asking this, asking for clarification?

The Reuters article, nor the screenshot of the website with the takedown message on it, says what their overall purpose or goal of the takedown is. We can assume it's related to related to sex trafficking and child exploitation, however it doesn't state if it's for more than that. It's a pretty big deal for a website to be seized.


I think that read as a bad joke, explaining the downvotes. That said, your question about what is going on is legitimate and you can find more background on them here:

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...


Fair. Thank you, I'd be curious to see what the other side says, what comes out in court.

And yes, that would be a bad joke - added the no pun intended to clarify it wasn't a joke.


I have a real estate business and this is one of the sites I have used to post my real estate listings. It wasn't a large part of business, but I did get regular leads from the site. I mostly used craigslist, facebook and zillow, but this was a solid 4th place source of leads for me. I'm self employed and these sites are how I make my living. So not all of the users are posting sex ads. I don't like the title calling it a sex marketplace. It makes it sounds like this is the only thing on the website.


I can buy a shirt at Whole Foods. It's still a grocery store.


Ok we took "Sex marketplace" out of the title above.


Is this where sex dungeons are bought and sold? You know, the kind of place you rent on KinkBNB.


I vacillate on this.

On the one hand, I don't think prostitution should be illegal.

On the other hand, it's not clear whether marketplaces like backpage bring the black-market closer to the light of day & make things safer for sex workers, or if they amplify demand to the point where suppliers have incentive to find new sex workers using more and more coercive methods.


To help you decide, consider what you think of when you hear "prostitution." Do you think of women standing on a street corner smoking and getting in cars and getting beat up by pimps and unable to go to the police for help like in 80s movies?

Or do you think of something more like a doctor's office with security cameras, a receptionist, online reviews?

Because it seems modern, legal prostitution is a lot more like a medical service, similar to how veterinarians calm a cat in heat [1].

[1] https://everything2.com/title/How+to+calm+a+cat+in+heat


Sex ads in general are probably a good idea.

The Backpage version, where they knowingly facilited ads for children who'd been kidnapped, drugged, and were being raped for money, is a bad idea.

It's really fucking weird reading this thread and seeing so much support for backpage. I hope it's because people don't know what Backpage were actually doing.

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...


Appreciate you linking the report here and elsewhere. I haven't used backpage or the services of a sex worker; I'm somewhat aware that sex trafficking is a problem, although I haven't seen any information on what the size and scope of the problem really is. So, I'm fairly neutral here.

All that said, I'm reading especially "Findings (II.B)" and I'm not really convinced that child sex trafficking was really an intention with the site; at worst, it sounds like they weren't super aggressive about dealing with it (which, itself, isn't great).

From those pages:

> Backpage itself reports cases of suspected child exploitation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; in some months Backpage has transmitted hundreds of such reports to NCMEC.2

...

> NCMEC paid Backpage $3000 to host ads for eight underage girls, including one 13-year-old girl advertised in hundreds of cities across the United States; NCMEC later claimed that the image of the 13-year-old was posted online instantly and received over 30 calls within seven minutes of going live. Although Ferrer disputed NCMEC’s claim in an internal email a week later, asserting that the ad triggered a fraud alert and was removed from the site in less than two minutes, he admitted: "NCMEC posted 8 underage pics. We have not found all of them."

Were these photos of girls who were clearly underage? Depending on photo content, it can be practically impossible for the average person to correctly guess a subject's age, or even just whether or not they're a minority.

NCMEC even says as much:

> NCMEC has noted, "it is virtually impossible to determine how old the young women in these ads are without an in-depth criminal investigation. The pimps try to make the 15 year olds look 23. And the distinction of whether the person in the ad is 17 or 18 is pretty arbitrary."

This is either damning -- if the photos were the sort that the average person could immediately identify as underage -- or kind of a skeezy move by NCMEC.

Andrew Padilla, head of moderation:

> And even if an age verification was a deterrent to someone hoping to post an ad on Backpage to traffic a minor, it doesn’t mean they’re going to stop trying to traffic a minor. It only means they won’t be doing it on our site, where Backpage, NCMEC and law enforcement are in the best position to put an actual stop to the crime.

Assuming they were operating in good faith with NCMEC (not an assumption I'm committed to), he makes a reasonable point. And how would an effective age verification system be built for a site like this?

> Backpage documents also suggest the company failed to use its evaluation and training procedures to impress the seriousness of child exploitation upon its employees. As part of its investigation, Subcommittee staff examined several performance reviews for Backpage moderators...

Okay, if you're going to run a site like this, trying to identify child exploitation should be a much higher priority than this paragraph describes.

Still though, I'm leaning more towards "incompetent and poor judgement" than "malicious intent" here.


Does this report include any defense from Backpage, and if not, why do you find it persuasive? Do you believe that the people compiling the report were altruist agenda-less saints?


Yes, the report does include defence from Backpage. Some of it is stuff said by Backpage during the various trials they've been involved in, some of it is comment to this committee from Backpage employees.

Note that Backpage were given the opportunity to put their side, and chose not to:

> Since June 2015, the Subcommittee has sought information from Backpage -first through a voluntary request, then by subpoena— about those screening measures. Backpage refused to comply, and the Subcommittee was forced to initiate the first civil contempt action uthorized by the Senate in more than twenty years.

Please read the report. It's not that long, and it's easy to read.

Backpage does not deny that its site was used for the sale of children for sex. When Backpage used the Communications Decency Act they claimed that this illegal stuff was happening but they, as a dumb pipe for ads, bore no responsibility for them. This is all detailed in court cases, and you can find those court cases by reading the report and following the references.


Prostitution is illegal because it leads directly into slavery. Why rent who you can buy?


And paying a worker hourly under the table is different how?


I'm not sure it is. It's also illegal and businesses that do a lot of that are regularly raided once the authorities become aware of them.


But parent was saying leading to slavery is WHY it's illegal. Not a consequence of it being illegal. By that logic jobs should be illegal in general.


Yeah, me too. It's hard to know what to believe.

The thing is, those engaged in commercial sex have a vested interest in defending deregulation of all parts of it: that way they make more money. If you were to try to pass legislation that, for example, would require a license to purchase sex and that the license would be granted only upon passing sexual health medical exams, people selling sex would see this as an obstacle to getting as many clients as possible. I know several people think you can just tell at a glance if someone has an STI and that condoms give all the protection you need.

I think there are a lot of vulnerable people in the sex trade who just aren't speaking up because, well, they're vulnerable.

Not everyone is vulnerable, of course. There are those who are perfectly ok and happy and vocal. But that can't be everyone.


Deregulation is the last thing that, eg, drug dealers want; they profit from the black market.


Calling it "deregulation" is a weird term to use for this. "Decriminalization" or "legalization" is the term you are looking for. Generally legalization comes with increased regulation.

While profits are higher (for some tiers of drug dealers), this is because the risks are correspondingly higher. Certainly those whose share of the drug profits is due to their capacity for violence and high risk tolerance are opposed to legalization. However, I suspect many of the producers and sellers whose share of profits depend on their industry knowledge find legalization attractive precisely because of the security and safety it can bring.


I don't think the situation is comparable when you're both the dealer and the product.


Prostitution is a service, prostitutes aren't products.


They are for pimps.


That's not the case for some of the people being advertised in Backpage.

> The spreadsheet attached to Padilla’s email indicates that the following words (among others) were automatically deleted from adult ads by the Strip Term From Ad filter before ads were published:

   • “lolita” (and its misspelled variant, “lollita”)  
   • “teenage”  
   • “rape”
   • “young”
Note that they'd still run the ad.

https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report...


> people selling sex would see this as an obstacle to getting as many clients as possible

What is your basis for this assertion? I think having a tool that makes it easier to vet clients could just as easily be a boon to many sex workers that would allow them to safely see more clients?


I've often seen sex workers object to that sort of thing online. They really don't want their clients to face any obstacle at all.

People often advocate for checking the sexual health of the sellers, but you never hear about the same checks for the buyers. Why is that?

It's pretty likely a sex worker will chime in on this thread. Then we'll hear their opinions first-hand.


>but you never hear about the same checks for the buyers. Why is that?

New Zealand requires buyers to adopt safer sex practices or be fined. I don't know to what degree this is enforced.


I'm curious if this only made possible by the recent SESTA/FOSTA law that was passed. It's not like Backpage is anything new, so why take it down now?

If it is related to those laws, this is significant precedent for websites being responsible for user posted content. I'm afraid of what it's going to do to communities like Reddit and HN.

If I post a zero-day in the comments section here, YC could be responsible for the damages it causes.


> I'm curious if this only made possible by the recent SESTA/FOSTA law that was passed. It's not like Backpage is anything new, so why take it down now?

It has not been signed into law yet, so it couldn't be. Now that the seizure has happened, the bill wouldn't apply to it even if signed, because A1S9 of the US Constitution states:

  No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
Here's the legislation:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1865


> I'm curious if this only made possible by the recent SESTA/FOSTA law that was passed.

That hasn't been signed into law yet, though the claim that they couldn't effectively deal with sites like Backpage without it was one of the (blatantly false, and now even more clearly so) selling points of the law.


As far as I can tell, SESTA/FOSTA hasn't been signed into law yet.


They are coming for porn next.


Yeah 'sex trafficking' is really code name for porn for many of the orgs pushing these changes.

I wonder how long reddit NSFW subreddits last.

The argument that porn leads to more sex trafficking is a false equivalence, faulty comparison and false analogy. You could argue prostitution being illegal instead of legal contributes to more sex trafficking.

I think keeping legal porn and making prostitution legal help as it is something that is always in demand, fighting it makes it more unsafe in underground markets.

Things people will do no matter if it is illegal or legal that harm noone and is consenting adults or something you do to your own body, it is better to have it in a mainstream market so it can be more easily regulated and ultimately safer than black/underground markets.

People pushing these laws think if you have a law the activity stops, yet it only makes it worse and more dangerous. Same with abortion, same with drug wars, same with abstinence education over sex education, basically any moral laws beyond civil rights does not work to change behavior and can make it worse.

For proof of this see alcohol prohibition, the 18th amendment and then the 21st when they realize their mistake. You could also argue the drug wars falls under that. You could also argue that there would be LESS human trafficking if prostitution was legal.


I think porn has a pretty strong history of 1st amendment protection in the US. Some porn companies could probably be prosecuted for how they treat their employees/contractors, but I don't think that's a bad thing.


Larry Flynt is an American statesman and hero in the aspect of 1st amendment protections.

We probably need a 'Right to Body' amendment that protects what you do with your own body, prostitution and drugs would fall under that ending illegal prostitution making it legal and ending the longest prohibition ever in the drug wars.


> I wonder how long reddit NSFW subreddits last.

I'm curious about other apps as well. Snapchat in case people aren't aware is used very heavily for prostitution and porn.

Twitter to a lesser degree but I have noticed it is also used a lot for this.

Interestingly google pay is the most popular payment provider that is used for this. I wonder why snap cash isn't used.


> People pushing these laws think if you have a law the activity stops, yet it only makes it worse and more dangerous. Same with abortion, same with drug wars, same with abstinence education over sex education, basically any moral laws beyond civil rights does not work to change behavior and can make it worse.

What about guns though? There's hardly any shootings in Europe, and guns are -generally- basically illegal there.


> The argument that porn leads to more sex trafficking is a false equivalence

Except in Backpage's case it knowingly facilitated sex trafficing of children, and they wen't out of their way to frustrate law enforcement efforts to investigate those crimes.


There are already laws against sex trafficking, associating it with porn is a fallacious analogy and weakens the effort preventing sex trafficking immensely.

The same type of people that use that logic also want to surveil everything you do like you are a criminal 'for the children' or 'for your safety'.

It is a trojan horse that is falsely tarnishing one thing by associating it with a truly bad thing.

False analogies are bad like all people with guns are part of school shootings and it is their fault, or people that look at porn are supporting sex trafficking, or people that don't want to be surveilled are hiding something. You probably do some things that someone used for bad somewhere, should you stop doing it because they did something bad with it?

Civil rights and protections are important because of this attitude by authoritarian people.

Eventually there will be no freedoms left if somewhere somebody uses something for bad rather than good so everyone loses that right.


> There are already laws against sex trafficking, associating it with porn is a fallacious analogy

It may be a fallacious analogy, but your argument is definitely a straw man. Nowhere in this case is porn even mentioned.


Take a look at the comment thread this started, it was about porn.

Equating porn with sex trafficking is a KNOWN tactic of people / orgs against porn to say it contributes to 'sex trafficking'. Groups like this say it all the time [1][2]. There are also large religious/authoritative groups behind the push and funding. Really it is about gaining more control over you to limit your freedoms.

> Pornography is in and of itself a form of sex trafficking [1].

> They teach that there is no acceptable amount of porn to watch; anyone who consumes porn is considered an addict. Utah’s new anti-porn resolution contains language that echoes the Mormon church’s doomsday predictions: “Pornography equates violence towards women and children with sex and pain with pleasure, which increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, child sexual abuse images, and child pornography,” the resolution reads. “Pornography use is linked to lessening desire in young men to marry, dissatisfaction in marriage, and infidelity.” [2]

The only strawman are those setups. Groups are pushing these types of laws all over the country in especially authoritarian states/orgs.

It freaks me out some are moving back to a crazy conservative view of sex/humans almost scarlet letter-esque, shaming, culty, very controlling and authoritarian view over your own body and mind.

[1] http://humantraffickingsearch.org/the-connection-between-sex...

[2] http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/04/20/utah_declare...


But Backpage isn't being taken down because of porn. Backpage is being taken down because it knowingly facilitated in the trafficing of children for sex.


Your comments are misleading. What you call "knowingly facilitated" is described in the report as not being zealous enough in removing anything that may or may not be child sex related.

Here is an example of the deceitful language and assertions that you are championing:

"Internal correspondence also suggests Backpage believes it is better that child sex trafficking take place on its website than elsewhere. In 2011, in response to a request from the Seattle Police Chief to require photo ID whenever a user submits a photo for an ad, Padilla expressed doubt to Ferrer and Hyer that such a system would be useful—it might create a “false sense of security.” But he went on to add the following:

And even if an age verification was a deterrent to someone hoping to post an ad on Backpage to traffic a minor, it doesn’t mean they’re going to stop trying to traffic a minor. It only means they won’t be doing it on our site, where Backpage, NCMEC and law enforcement are in the best position to put an actual stop to the crime."

And another:

"The record also contains substantial evidence that, as a matter of policy, Backpage often chose to err against reporting potential child exploitation. As the Subcommittee reported in connection with its November 2015 hearing, in June 2012 Backpage instructed its outsourced third-party moderators only to delete suspected child-sex advertisements “IF YOU REALLY VERY SURE THE PERSON IS UNDERAGE.” In a similar email, a Backpage supervisor instructed internal moderation staff: “Young ads do not get deleted unless they are clearly a child.”"

The whole report about "knowingly facilitating" sex trafficking is about them acknowledging the possibility that some people may be using the site for sex trafficking(which is just reality), and then questioning the demands of activists to ban a broad spectrum of ads because they may be related to child sex trafficking.

Backpage was, quite clearly, trying to maintain its business of prostitution ads. Trying to somehow link them to "child sex trafficking" is disingenuous.


> Except in Backpage's case it knowingly facilitated sex trafficing of children, and they wen't out of their way to frustrate law enforcement efforts to investigate those crimes.

All of which, if true, is already illegal and always has been. Which is why Backpage was shut down before FOSTA/SESTA was signed into law, and why there was already an active case against them, because they already lost immunity under the CDA.

SESTA and FOSTA have as little to do with sex trafficking as the PATRIOT act had to do with patriotism.


> PATRIOT act had to do with patriotism.

USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) was labeled as being about terrorism in the way that SESTA was labeled as being about sex trafficking.


> USA PATRIOT (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) was labeled as being about terrorism

That's ...exactly what I'm saying? It was nominally "about" patriotism - patriotism being presented and viewed in contemporary discourse from 2001 as the binary opposition to terrorism, in more ways than just legislation.

Terrorism is broadly an act of political violence against the state, and patriotism is broadly a demonstration of support for the state. The PATRIOT act invoked the rhetoric of one to nominally fight the other, although in practice that was just an excuse.


The charges were was dropped because authorities lacked evidence of trafficking. A money laundering charge remains.


It's really telling that POF, CmB, Tinder, Match, Bumble, et al haven't made any moves. As though they did not anticipate impact.


but who is they ?


They'll have to pry it from my cold, dead, sticky hands!


Backpage is being targetted because it actively facilitated the kidnapping, drugging, and raping of children.

That's not porn.


> Backpage is being targetted because it actively facilitated the kidnapping, drugging, and raping of children.

It's being accused of that, but it was probably targeted merely because it facilitated prostitution; MyRedbook.com was previously seized by the Justice Department, without any accusation of knowingly facilitate anything other than adult consensual sex trade (there were claims to the media by incestigators that “massage parlors” pimping minors used the site, but not that the site operators were knowingly facilitating that.)


Backpage admit that trafficing ads appeared in their paper. They claim that the law means they bear no responsibility for that.

Please do read the report I've linked. It's very clear that Backpage knew that ads for children that had been trafficed were being placed, and that Backpage was helping those ads to be placed.


And honestly, that's fine with a lot of us. There is an undeniable connection between the porn industry and sex trafficking.

Haha I knew this would strike a nerve here. The truth is, your modern "no porn" movement isn't coming from the religious right anymore. So now that the typical scapegoats are out of the picture, you are left with actually having to sit and think for yourself. You think an evangelical started /r/nofap?


> you are left with actually having to sit and think for yourself

Here's a thought: let consenting adults do what they want with each other.

I have no problem with you nofapping (or joining AA, or whatever), and I'm happy for law enforcement to prosecute actual sex trafficking, but let the rest of the law-abiding/consenting individuals do what they want.


Here's a counter thought: The actions of others affect others.


So all those couples recording themselves and uploading to pornhub are being "trafficked" and we should stop all sites that allow to do that?

There is a lot more to porn than just professionally recorded porn (which btw, is one of the most audited industries, since it's very easy way to score some points with the electorate for a DA to go after shady stuff happening in such a studio).


Have you seen the signed model releases for those recordings? Do you know they were uploaded by themselves plural, not just one party? And with consent?

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