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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.Until January 9, 2017, Backpage contained an adult section containing different subcategories of various sex work professions (escorts, erotic masseuses, strippers, phone sex operators, etc.).After accusations from the United States Senate of being directly involved with sex-trafficking and the sexual exploitation of minors, the company suspended its adult listings, describing the move as "the direct result of unconstitutional government censorship".After a series of court cases and the arrest of the company's CEO and other officials, in early 2017 Backpage removed the adult services subsection from their website in the United States, though said adult services simply moved to both the dating and massage sections of the site.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.
In 2015 Backpage lost all credit card processing agreements, leaving Bitcoin as the remaining option for paid ads.Numerous NGOs and others contend that the potential harm done by a website that features a section for adult posting is far greater than any actions the site may take to aid law enforcement.In many cases, the critics of Backpage say that these efforts are less than is necessary or possible.Prostitution is illegal throughout the United States, except for some counties in Nevada.Kristen Di Angelo, executive director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Sacramento, criticized the shutdown, questioning how many sex workers across the United States no longer had a way to support themselves.