In the January 17, 2017 edition of the Wall Street Journal, Dale Weiss was quoted as one of the experts providing an analysis of Backpage.com’s recent crisis.
“Any organization engaging in activity considered controversial should understand it’s not if but when it will need to defend itself. For Backpage.com, the report issued by a U.S. Senate committee did not come as a surprise. The company fought against subpoenas seeking information on how it routinely edited certain incriminating words from its adult ad section that could lead to sex trafficking of children. In its only response, Backpage.com posted a single statement answering the Senate report and vowed to keep fighting.
“In a crisis, facts and specifics are usually the best defense. In its statement, Backpage.com defended the adult classified section that allowed it to: ‘…cooperate with law enforcement and provide information to identify, arrest and prosecute those who engage in human trafficking.’ That’s probably a bit too minimalist. If its goal is to reopen its adult classified site, it will need to supply specific facts, such as: Which law enforcement agencies? How many human traffickers did it help catch? Are they endorsed by organizations that fight against human trafficking? Did the company’s monitoring and reporting save any children who were forced to work as sex slaves?
“The company chose to be combative by posting a large red ‘censored’ sign where the adult classified section used to be. This posting will not please the Senate committee and most of the general public. Instead, the company is appealing to its audience; customers wanting to post classified ads in the adult section.”