The website ‘Backpage’ is making changes amid allegations that it systematically edits out key words in ads of its ‘adult’ section that authorities look for to find possible sex traffickers.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has been fighting alongside other attorneys general for years and now the US Senate is getting involved.
Backpage is accused of creating a lucrative marketplace for child sex traffickers while making it easier for them to do business in states like South Dakota.
Jackley, along with 20 other state attorneys general have accused Backpage of using language that makes financial transactions with human traffickers untraceable.
“What 49 state attorney generals determined was that Backpage dot com was the worst of the worst. it was a site that was gaining profit in helping sexual predators pray on children,” said Jackley.
Jackley believes those behind Backpage knew exactly what they were doing – promoting child sex trafficking.
“They help people with how to prepare the particular ads and they help those bad individuals get away from law enforcement through different technologies, through different uses of their site. They keep it so law enforcement can't actually investigate crimes,” said Jackley.
For at least now, these certain ads and sections are gone.
“The Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office, along with state of South Dakota DCI has a task force where they investigate child sex trafficking on the internet,” said Sgt. Jason Gearman with the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. Gearman says the fight against Backpage is taking a step in the right direction, but the fight against human trafficking is hardly over.
Jackley says 10 operations in South Dakota designed to protect children and remove sexual predators from the street have been run to date. That amounts to 47 arrests, many of those ads having been placed on Backpage.
In October of 2016, the CEO of Backpage was arrested in Houston for several alleged violations of sex crimes involving minors.