Website linked to sex trafficking shuts down

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — One of the biggest websites linked to the illegal sex trade is shutting down ads for sex, which could impact human trafficking in the Pikes Peak region.

Backpage.com is notorious for its adult section. In the past, it’s been linked to underage girls who are victims of sex trafficking. Following years of government pressure, they’re shutting down that section of their website.

It could have a big impact, because of how popular it was.

“I think they’ve had a great influence, a negative influence, on this industry of human trafficking and very prevalent right here in the Pikes Peak region,” said Roger Patrizio, chairman of the Human Trafficking Task Force.

That’s in part because of how easy it is to get around.

“All along the front range with the interstate corridor, I-25 and I-70. It’s a common trafficking route,” said Patrizio.

But what’s the impact without the adult section page?

“It should have a traumatic impact on human trafficking, at least temporarily,” said Patrizio.

He said others could fill the void.

Backpage.com said pressure from the U.S. government forced them to close down the adult section.

They said it’s government censorship and a violation of free speech.

“We honor that, our organization, and our nation of course, but what’s going on there is really illicit, illegal activity,” said Patrizio.

All Patrizio can do is look at this closing as a small victory and hope it sparks engagement in preventing sex trafficking from happening.

“In the meantime, it’s shutting down one of the larger avenues for sex trafficking in the United States,” said Patrizio.

Even though the adult section of the website is shut down, other sections of the site still host ads that are likely soliciting sex.

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