Sheriff Dart wrote to chief postal inspector Guy Cottrell on July 8th asking him to try to find a way to stop people from using the Postal Service to facilitate “sex trafficking” via Backpage, but it is not illegal to send payment for advertisement over the U. Massachusetts and Rhode Island In the wake of Visa and Mastercard’s decision, anti-Backpage hysteria ramped up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island: On July 7th, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey echoed Sheriff Dart’s bellicose anti-trafficking posturing by making a public statement calling for Backpage to take down its adult services ad section.
This is why I have always preferred [Backpage]; I don’t have to give them any personal info so I feel safe.
This is a problem for workers who are undocumented, for workers advertising or living as a different gender than the one on the ID, and for those of us who don’t feel comfortable with handing over our personal info: face photo, driver’s license/ID number, and address where our families live.
On July 9th, Sarah wrote that she’d “been having problems all day with some of my Backpage free ads disappearing into the ether, showing as live but not being visible in the category listings.” USA Today also reported that Benjamin Breit, Dart’s spokesperson, scoffed at the free ad system, calling it unsustainable, and commenting that it was “a predictable act of desperation” from a business with a failing model.
Peter Zollman, the founding principal of Advanced Media Interactive Group, agreed that free posting can’t last forever, but he also added that “[i]n the meantime, maintaining an audience, and showing an ability to get around the sheriff’s edict, is important to them [Backpage].” Dart is sheriff of the second largest county in the United States.
Eros I might move to Eros if I get desperate enough.
The problem with Eros is that they now require an ID scan for every new ad, which I find to be a huge violation of privacy and discretion.
Predictably, though, the attorney general’s anti-sex worker stance drew applause from prohibitionist Massachusetts organization Demand Abolition.
“Websites like this make an illegal industry more invisible,” stated Ziba Crammer, the organization’s executive director, though presumably Backpage and the transactional history it accumulates through credit card and mailed payments can only make the sex trade more transparent.
(Masi’s own mother, Rhonda Bleeker, believes her daughter arranged to meet Tejeda on Backpage for a ride or to borrow a car, not for sex, but she did state that “whether she was on there as an escort, or wasn’t, she didn’t deserve to die.”) On July 13th, another man, James Adams, was found guilty in Providence Superior Court on a number of charges, including attacking one Backpage adult services poster, Jessica Dyer, as well as killing another, Mary Grier, in 2012.
Neither Healey nor Kilmartin made any statements promoting decriminalization, which would protect sex workers from such violence by allowing them to operate openly.