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The foundation and traditions of free classified advertising and free circulation were part of the fundamentals of the alternative newsweeklies dating back to 1971.The Chicago Reader and the Phoenix New Times were pioneers in these operating philosophies.Some say that no efforts to police the site and report bad actors outweigh the negative impact the site may have in this area.The general counsel for National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said, "Backpage’s reporting is not conducted in good faith." In 2012, at the behest of a number of NGO's including Fair Girls and NCMEC, Fitzgibbon Media (a well-known progressive/liberal public relations agency) created a multimedia campaign to garner support for the anti-Backpage position.In addition, they argue that by providing prompt and detailed information about postings to law enforcement when asked to do so (including phone numbers, credit card numbers and IP addresses), Backpage aids law enforcement in protecting minors from such activity.They also contend that the prompt and complete production of this information results in more convictions for illegal activities and that shutting down the adult section of Backpage will simply drive the traffickers to other places on the internet that will be less forthcoming about crucial information for law enforcement.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.
Near the turn of the 21st century, Internet-based classified advertising, particularly the website Craigslist, was having a significant impact on the classified advertising business in newspapers nationwide.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 October 6, 2016, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced that Texas authorities had raided the Dallas headquarters of and arrested CEO Carl Ferrer at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping.They also say Backpage "encourage[s] dissemination of child sex trafficking content on its website".They say Backpage is much slower in removing ads that advertise children than ads placed by authorities aimed at trapping traffickers, guides traffickers in creating false pages for underage children, instructs traffickers and buyers on how to pay anonymously, and makes it easier to make adult posts than other posts.