For years, Backpage was the place people went to purchase sex from a smorgasbord of women and men that posted their “services” on the site. However, more recently, the site has been on the radar of the federal government. The site has been accused of hosting a high volume of sex trafficking (some involving children). Backpage’s co-founders have been charged multiple times for pimping, sex trafficking and money laundering. Most recently, before a Senate hearing, the website shut down its adult ad section, where the majority of questionable practices occurred.
However, today, it was reported that Backpage, the second largest classifieds website, has suffered the worst blow the government could deal. Now, the feds have seized Backpage.com and disabled it, according to Engadget. Now, when you visit the site, a message is shown that says that the site has been seized “as part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, with analytical assistance from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.” Additionally, CBS News reports that the feds raided the home of co-founder Michael Lacey earlier today.
Last month, Congress passed the FOSTA-SESTA bills, which were inspired by Backpage and other sites. Engadget elaborated:
Touted as anti-sex trafficking legislation, the bill would impose criminal sanctions on websites that host loosely defined sex trafficking and sex work content. Many say it’s more about censorship than curbing sex trafficking and its opponents include the Department of Justice, the ACLU, the EFF, anti-trafficking groups and sex work organizations. Though it’s not even a law yet, some companies have preemptively made changes to their services. Craigslist shut down its personal section last month after Congress passed the bill.
More information from the Department of Justice on the situation has been announced for later tonight.