Village Voice Media, which operates Backpage.com, is coming under more fire for maintaining an adult section that allegedly has been used by people to buy and sell minors for sex. A group led by Groundswell, a social action service of the Auburn Seminary, is planning a protest in front of the Voice’s building tomorrow morning at 11 am.
During the protest, a Change.org petition (currently packed with over 220,000 signatures) that calls on the Voice to stop publishing ads on Backpage.com that might lead to child sex trafficking will be delivered.
The cause has been trumpeted by The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in a pair of columns. In addition to Kristof, 19 Senators have already asked the Voice to shutter the adult services section of Backpage.com.
The Voice has denied any wrongdoing regarding Backpage.com. In a recent article the paper said Kristof’s tale of a minor who was allegedly sold on Backpage.com featured incorrect claims. It also stated that Backpage.com works with authorities:
Backpage dedicates hundreds of staff to screen adult classifieds in order to keep juveniles off the site and to work proactively with law enforcement in their efforts to locate victims. When the authorities have concerns, we share paperwork and records and help them make cases.
Kristoff told the New York Observer that he wasn’t surprised that the Voice said he was wrong. “That’s why Alissa [the minor featured in his column] did not want her real name used,” Kristof said. “She was afraid of The Village Voice.“