The second largest online marketplace in the United States, Backpage.com has faced criticism in recent years over its “Adult” section, which is a thinly-veiled attempt at hiding seedy listings from sex workers including escorts, strippers, and phone sex operators.
But as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation tells it:
A classified advertising website known as “the hub” for prostitution advertising, Backpage.com serves as a virtual auction block where sex buyers can shop for human beings for sex from the privacy of their home, office, hotel room, or cell phone.
Many of those bought and sold via the website are sexually trafficked women and children.
Reports show that Backpage facilitates this activity by editing ads to conceal the illegality of underlying criminal activity.
Craigslist was once met with similar ire from advocacy groups.