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Mon Jan 9, 2017, 10:42 PM

Business Backpage shutters U.S. escort ads after Senate report

Source: Mercury News

The men behind controversial website Backpage edited prostitution advertisements to remove indications of wrongdoing and promote sexual trafficking of underage girls, a U.S. Senate report released Monday alleged.

After the release of the report, Backpage removed “adult” ads from its U.S. web pages, replacing them with messages claiming it was the victim of “unconstitutional” government censorship.

“The goal is either to ‘suffocate’ Backpage out of existence or use the awesome powers of the government to force Backpage to follow in the footsteps of Craigslist and abandon its Adult advertising section,” the company said in a press release late Monday evening.

Backpage, last valued at more than $500 million according to the Senate report, used an automatic filter to hide the true purpose of the ads, the report alleged

Read more: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/01/09/backpage-shutters-u-s-escort-ads-after-senate-report/


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Reply Business Backpage shutters U.S. escort ads after Senate report (Original post)
NWCorona Jan 2017 OP
CincyDem Jan 2017 #1
NWCorona Jan 2017 #2
CincyDem Jan 2017 #4
elmac Jan 2017 #3

Response to NWCorona (Original post)

Mon Jan 9, 2017, 11:54 PM

1. Which part of this story earned the "finally" ?

The government has "finally" shut down something that is reprehensible.

----- or -----

The legislative branch has "finally" stepped in where courts have failed and, based upon allegations unproven in court and in conflict with multiple court decisions, asserted their will on Backpage.

Feels like we need to be careful what we ask for. There is a large percentage of the US population (and a larger percentage of the current federal government) that believes the conversations that occur here daily are similarly reprehensible. You and I don't see it that way but I think Jeff Sessions' Justice Department might feel differently.

As hard as it is, I think we need to step back from the content question here and ask if we think it's a good idea that a small group of Senators have the authority to brand something as "illegal" content. Especially when the judicial processes up through the Supremes have failed to draw the same conclusion.

When they come after DU, using this as precedent (or is that "president"???) - how many deplorable will be saying "finally".

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Response to CincyDem (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 10, 2017, 12:32 AM

2. That the company took the decision to shutter the escort pages

I don't look at it as a stark 1st amendment case. It's not like brothels are allowed to operate in the open.

I do agree with you on the slippery slope tho.

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Response to NWCorona (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 10, 2017, 06:39 AM

4. Good point about it being a company decision but...

...I'm not sure that changes how I think about it vis-a-vis 1st amendment. Almost worse in a way because, for whatever reason, after years of fighting this in the courts (and winning), they end up getting hit with an extra-judicial finding from a Senate panel and decide to shut their doors immediately on this topic. Especially concerning given what we know about the Senate's focus on fact based decision making. And made worse because it's not obvious there's an appeal process.

Slippery slope indeed it is. (said in my best Yoda imitation). They couldn't shut it down through the courts because the law is not on their side. They probably couldn't shut it down through legislation because it would likely be overturned. So they shut it down through a backroom staff report (using powers that are about to be expanded in the new congress) and intimidation to create a "voluntary" shut down. To walk away on the same day, after all that fighting...they must have gotten some serious pressure and threats.

In some ways, it's a brilliant strategy. Pick a topic that is susceptible and create the path - then start running the path with topics that might be more supported. Cookie cutter site by site. Backpage promotes "human trafficking" (even though the data presented in a variety of court cases - seemingly the last place where some level of data still matters). The next one promotes "seditious ideas" (by suggesting Trump/Russia ties) or "insurrection" (by suggesting attendance at a peaceful protest). Pretty soon it's going to be OK to go after SportsIllustrated.com for suggesting that Clemson won last night (when everybody in the Sessions' Justice Department KNOWS Alabama won and it's just librul media spinning falsehoods about some last second touchdown by a second rate wannabe Clemson).

I don't know who's next but you can be damn sure it won't be Drudge, InfoWars or Breitbart.

So, IMHO, we should be screaming from the rooftops about this to defend Backpage because there are a lot of folks. What's that phrase about the 1st Amendment - something about how it's easy to support free speech when you agree with it but where it really counts is when the speech advocates something you disagree with. I don't have that exactly right (and I have the feeling it's actually from Michael Douglas in "The American President" but whatever).

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Response to NWCorona (Original post)

Tue Jan 10, 2017, 12:55 AM

3. Probably about 30% of the service sector in many cities


I guess that unfettered capitalism can only go so far. Backpage should have policed its adult ads a little better, more proactive with law enforcement when it came to sex trafficking.

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