Some companies including H&M, IKEA, and Barnes & Noble canceled ads for publications owned by Village Voice Media. The California arrest warrant alleged that 99% of Backpage’s revenue was directly attributable to prostitution-related ads, and many of the ads involved victims of sex trafficking, including children under the age of 18.
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. The State of Texas was also considering a money laundering charge pending its investigation.
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.
In 2011, Backpage was the second largest classified ad listing service on the Internet in the United States after Craigslist.
Backpage came under fire starting in 2011 for allegations that their adult services subsection was used for prostitution and human trafficking, particularly involving minors, and that the company took insufficient steps to prevent these practices.
Classified advertising in daily newspapers as well as weekly alternatives, suburban papers and community papers was moving to the free advertising model of Craigslist and other smaller websites.
These included personals (including adult-oriented personal ads), adult services, musicians and "New Age" services.
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.
Backpage is a classified advertising website launched in 2004.
It offers classified listings for a wide variety of products and services including automotive, jobs listings, and real estate.