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Backpage has had continued issues with credit card processors, who were under pressure from law enforcement to cease working with companies that allegedly allow or encourage illegal prostitution.In 2015 Backpage lost all credit card processing agreements, leaving Bitcoin as the remaining option for paid ads.
In an amicus curiae brief, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says the efforts of Backpage are inadequate and their reporting lacked in several areas.
They say Backpage does not report all ads that have been flagged as being underage, does not report when someone tries to advertise children under 18 years of age, and does not respond to requests of parents to have ads of their trafficked children removed.
They enlisted support from musicians, politicians, journalists, media companies and retailers.
The campaign created a greater public dialogue, both pro and con, regarding Backpage. On 9 April 2018, the US Department of Justice's indictment against Backpage was unsealed.
After a series of court cases and the arrest of the company's CEO and other officials, Backpage removed the adult services subsection in the United States in 2017.
Its CEO, Carl Ferrer, pled guilty to "charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering".
Some companies including H&M, IKEA, and Barnes & Noble canceled ads for publications owned by Village Voice Media. It contains details about 17 alleged victims which range from minors as young as 14 years old to adults, who were allegedly trafficked on the site while Backpage was knowingly facilitating prostitution.
Over 230,000 people including 600 religious leaders, 51 attorneys general, 19 U. senators, over 50 non-governmental associations, musician Alicia Keys, and members of R. M., The Roots, and Alabama Shakes petitioned the website to remove sexual content. One 15-year-old is alleged to have been forced to do in-calls at hotels.
The site included the various categories found in newspaper classified sections including those that were unique to and part of the First Amendment-driven traditions of most alternative weeklies.
These included personals (including adult-oriented personal ads), adult services, musicians and "New Age" services.
The foundation and traditions of free classified advertising and free circulation were part of the fundamentals of the alternative newsweeklies dating back to 1971.