A few weeks after Craigslist shut down its personal ads due to an anti-sex trafficking law, SESTA-FOSTA, Backpage.com continued to feature the same type of ads. This was the case even despite how the site’s CEO, Carl Ferrer, was arrested on felony pimping charges in October 2016. On Friday, the FBI apparently seized Backpage and raided Ferrer’s home.
The FBI’s seizure of Backpage may be the something of a new normal. In announcing the seizure, the Justice Department said it worked with “U.S. attorneys in Arizona and California, as well as the Justice Department’s section on child exploitation and obscenity and the California and Texas attorneys general had supported the work in shutting down the website.” Visitors to Backpage received a notice from about the seizure:
“Backpage.com and affiliated websites have been seized as part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, with analytical assistance from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.”
Notably, Backpage is currently facing several lawsuits for facilitating sex trafficking, though in January 2017, the Supreme Court decided not to hear a case brought against Backpage by a woman who claimed to have been forced into prostitution and advertised on Backpage.