Oh Look: Police Can Use Backpage.com To Track Down, Arrest & Convict Pimps & Prostitutes

from the why-didn't-anyone-think-of-that-before... dept

A few years ago, there was a ton of political grandstanding against Craigslist, because there was some prostitution on the site. As we noted at the time, it was pretty misguided. Craigslist cooperated with law enforcement and many law enforcement officials realized that Craigslist was an excellent tool to help them find and arrest law breakers. We pointed out that going after Craigslist instead of the actual law breakers would mean that the activity would just move somewhere else. Indeed, Craigslist finally caved to tons of public pressure and blocked any ad that might be related to prostitution... and it did nothing to stop prostitution or human trafficking. It just moved elsewhere. The same crowd that wrongfully targeted Craigslist then shifted all of their attention to Backpage.com. Even though the law has made it clear that Backpage, as a third party service provider is not liable, the grandstanding continues against Backpage. The whole thing has gotten to be so much, that Backpage's owners, Village Voice Media, have sold off the newspapers to separate them out from the site, and to avoid having the two properties connected.

The crusading against Backpage.com has become increasingly intense and increasingly misguided lately. We get press releases all the time, full of emotional, but legally false, language, all attacking Backpage.com. No one seems to even want to recognize that attacking Backpage instead of those actually responsible only makes it that much more difficult to track down the real criminals. Some law enforcement officials are not quite as misguided. As with Craigslist, we're seeing cases where Backpage.com is instrumental in putting together the case -- in this case, against someone who had set up a brothel.

And yet, the attacks on Backpage.com continue. The whole thing is stunning to me. Here's a tool that is a goldmine for the police to collect evidence against those actually responsible for prostitution and human trafficking... and the response is to try to shut it down and drive those efforts further underground, rather than actually going after and arresting those responsible. It's shocking.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:30pm

    The two biggest supporters of probation were bootleggers (suppliers) and preachers (religion).

    The two biggest opponents of prostitution are brothels and preachers.

    Prostitution is legal to some extent in some form in almost all countries of the world except the US. (Muslin by 24 hour marriage.)

    Where do the wacko movements, probation, illegal to own gold, drug war, running around the world beating the hell out of the natives just for the fun, prostitution et., of it, we experience in the US come from? What is it in the US national character which makes us an nutty as the British were in the 19th century?

     

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    MrWilson, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 8:36pm

    I've never understood the "if I can't see it, it must not be happening," philosophy of legalistic moralism.

    God forbid anyone accept what actions will inevitably be perpetrated regardless of their legality and move to adapt by using evidence-based actions and what are determined to be effective methods of dealing with such issues.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:15pm

    I think the idea is that even though sites like that make it easier to track down bad guys, it also makes it easier for weak-willed folks to satisfy their vices. Yes, you and I both know it will still happen if its harder to do, but not quite as much of it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:47pm

      Re:

      Based on what evidence?

      Many people today seem a little confused on this, whether regular prostitution or child abuse they seem to think that because they are hearing more about it, it must be more common. People have not changed, our willingness to acknowledge certain things have.

       

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        Josef Anvil (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 12:18am

        Re: Re: The evidence you were looking for

        Shutting down Napster and Limewire killed music piracy. Nuff said.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2014 @ 1:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: The evidence you were looking for

          No shutting down napster an limewire did not stop the piracy at all. It got a little harder an further underground but never truely stopped. Its just like a drug dealer on the street as soon as police take him down there is someone else lined up to take the risk for reward option so it never stops. Drug dealers/prostitution/music downloads someone will always pick up the slack when a vacancy arrives an theres a hole to be filled!

           

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      That One Guy (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:54pm

      Re:

      Short term, yeah, that could and probably would happen.

      However, if the site makes it easier to catch those involved, then long term it would be an enormous boost to the ability to shut such things down, decreasing such activity, which I'd say more than makes up for the short term problems, especially given that shutting the site down does nothing to actually stop such activity.

       

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      Rekrul, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 11:00pm

      Re:

      I think the idea is that even though sites like that make it easier to track down bad guys, it also makes it easier for weak-willed folks to satisfy their vices.

      Consensual prostitution shouldn't even be a crime in the first place. People use the claims that prostitutes are abused, forced to take drugs, etc, to justify keeping prostitution illegal. This ignores the fact that all of those problems would be greatly reduced if it were legalized.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 11:18pm

        Re: Re:

        they are abused, they are forced onto drugs, they are forced into prostitution, making it legal, will not magically make all those go away, a prostitute will not now stand up to her pimp, she knows what will happen to her if she does that

        ""This ignores the fact that all of those problems would be greatly reduced if it were legalized.""

        Let me fix this sentence for you, and see if it makes sense, since women way back in the day [ushed for prohibition because of the dangers of something

        This ignores the fact that all of those problems would be greatly reduced if alcohol were made illegal.

        did it work?? no it didn't it made things worse

        What I would like to see is them decriminalize women and men who turn themselves in as prostitutes and seek help to get away from it and thier pimps etc..

         

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          Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 12:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "they are abused, they are forced onto drugs, they are forced into prostitution, making it legal, will not magically make all those go away, a prostitute will not now stand up to her pimp, she knows what will happen to her if she does that"

          Legalizing it would help fix those problems. Right now what are the options if a prostitute is abused by a pimp? Nothing, she can't go to the cops because she's a prostitute. She can't go it alone because what are her options if some customer doesn't pay or is abusive? Ether get someone who can defend her (AKA a pimp) or try to fight it on her own. Legalizing it would allow her to go to the cops.

          You know who really, really wants prostitution to remain illegal? Pimps. It being illegal allows the pimps to abuse the living hell out of their "hos" and not get into trouble.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 1:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          This ignores the fact that all of those problems would be greatly reduced if alcohol were made legal again.

          did it work?? Yes, it did

          FTFY

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 7:01am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The fuck? Your metaphor is an utter failure, and actually makes the opposite point you're trying to make. Not to mention that the point you're trying to make is unsupported by existing evidence. Look, I think it's great that they let you people on the internet now. When my aunt was in the psychiatric ward years ago, they barely let her use a phone. But maybe you should wait until you're better before trying to argue about things that require more than a few neurons firing properly to grasp.

           

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          weneedhelp (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 9:14am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "they are abused, they are forced onto drugs, they are forced into prostitution"

          Um Amsterdam.

          A beautiful little 23 year old I spent some time with told me she would retire in 5 years and not have to work for the rest of her life. It was her decision to do so. The people who run certain parts of the red light district keep close tabs on the people walking through the district and it is a very controlled environment. Just look up. You dont fuck around.

          There are no pimps. The girls and brothel owners have a very close relationship and those men protect their girls with their lives. Like any job, you go to work high and you get fired. It has been that way for many many years.

          All Americans should travel out of our little bubble once in their lives.

          Europeans treat each other very very different and is an eye opener as to how hateful we treat each other here in the states.

           

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      drmohemed, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 3:55am

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:16pm

    It won't work. Phone numbers are like IP addresses, aren't they? No proof that the person at the end of the phone number is actually responsible for it's use.

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 1:48am

      Re:

      This is true. I don't get why people put so much faith in IP addresses as a means of identifying criminals. It is the same thing in using them to identify illegal downloaders. Very often IP addresses are assigned dynamically from a pool so they change quite often and even when you do trace one, you only get the account holder and not the person doing the downloading (or whatever the case may be).

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:43pm

    Not all of the attention shifted.
    This guy here blogs a story about how the police used craigslist to catch a predator before insisting that to protect children craigslist should be destroyed.

    http://trenchreynolds.me/2012/06/11/multiple-arrests-in-florida-craigslist-child-sex-s ting/

    And then goes on to deny that using craigslist can be helpful to law enforcement.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:55pm

      Re:

      Ahh, you are creating the ultimate false trade off argument (one Mike seems good at).

      If you catch one predator, but 100 more are working CL every day, did you really accomplish anything? Are you not allowing 99 to do as they please with a tool that makes it easier for them?

      Backpage is the same thing. Unless police can address the vast majority of ads in a timely manner, leaving them up probably causes more harm than good. Whatever the police stop through arrests is nothing, compared to what they don't deal with.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 10:05pm

        Re: Re:

        Ah yes, but what if they catch 50 billion, but 51 billion are working CL every day!?

        We're just making up numbers to support dumb arguments now, right?

         

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        SomethingHasToGive (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 10:13pm

        Re: Re:

        Not really, you're actually just pushing the when we can't see it it isn't happening argument which is the same thing that caused the majority of abuse victims to suffer without any help or even acknowledgement for generations.

         

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          SomethingHasToGive (profile), Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 10:18pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I do understand though. These are distressing issues and it's so much easier to stop your distress by hiding the issues than to try to find ways of actually addressing the problems.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 10:54pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Not true.

          The argument is that the hardcore people will do it anyway - you can't avoid that. The point of getting the ads out of public places is to stop (or make it harder) for those people who are casual users of the system to stop casually using it.

          It's misleading to think you can cure the problem, you cannot get rid of it. However, you can make it harder for someone to obtain the services, you can make it less desirable to obtain the services, and so on.

          There is also the problem of the justice system. Just busting people for pimping, example, doesn't really work out well. Most of those charged get off with light sentences or even just fines, and they can go right back to work. The girls, unless they are illegal aliens, generally get a night in the slammer, bailed out, plead the case, pay a fine, and walk right back out to start over.

          So if the legal system won't work on supply, you have to work on demand.

          I remember a study a ways back (tried to find it online, can't seem to... but the keywords are hard to work out for Google without hitting tons of pr0n) that said that most customers for hookers either don't know the girls have a pimp, laugh about it, or treat it like a non-issue. Those people are casual users, and if it's harder to get what they are looking for, they may give up or not do it as often.

          Moreover, removing at least some of the easy money from the process may also change the behavior of pimps. They may have to take more risky strategies to make money, making them even easier pickings for law enforcement. Meanwhile, the casual user is unlikely to pick up a streetwalker, so you have solved the supply issue.

          Making it easy to break the law means more people break the law. Most people won't cut a hole in a fence to sneak through a yard, but most of them will go through an existing hole in a fence to take the shortcut. Stop the fence cutting, you stop most casual short cut takers.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 6:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Wow, just wow.
            If prostitution and pimps and child abuse could be solved by not having personal ads on web sites, then they must only have come into existence after 1991.
            Was that the case in the universe you live in?

            In the universe I inhabit, these things all existed long before the internet and were made worse for lengthy periods of time by polite society pretending that they didn't exist and didn't happen, especially in the case of child abuse whilst having all kinds of laws against prostitution (there's a clue about it's longevity when it's called the oldest profession) often with harsh sentences that mostly got applied to the people who most needed protection.
            In this universe, these things aren't new, aren't a product of the internet, weren't a product of television, movies, videos, rock and roll, jazz, penny dreadfuls, gin shops or any other trend, fad or popular new thing.

            It'd make more sense to ban the catholic church, the boy scouts, girl guides and sports coaches of all types in an effort to combat prostitution and child abuse than to go after craigslist and backpage.
            But banning cars and public transport would certainly have the kind of impact you seem to suggest is the way to get rid of those who'll only want to use people sexually if it's convenient and doesn't take much effort.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 8:07am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "If prostitution and pimps and child abuse could be solved by not having personal ads on web sites, then they must only have come into existence after 1991.
              Was that the case in the universe you live in?"

              It's nice to know that you don't read. Nobody, nobody, NOBODY is suggesting that it would SOLVE the issue. It's the world's oldest profession for a reason, it's not going away.

              Now, the rest of your rant seems so meaningless. You can't read, so you are talking to yourself.

               

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 9:52pm

    Rights Away

    Police are getting away with more and more with each passing day. We are not getting more rights. We are losing our rights.

    If you have not seen it, here is some leaked TARU footage from the raid on Zuccotti Park:

    https://www.youtube.com/owsn15

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 3:23am

      Re: Rights Away

      Oh, you don't think that is editing just slightly? You don't think that perhaps they should have obeyed the court orders?

      yes, the police are horrible people for actually enforcing the law.

       

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    Rekrul, Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 11:07pm

    This what they mean when they talk about a "sweep" for child abuse; They "sweep" it under the rug...

     

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    DMNTD, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 1:14am

    well...

    Perhaps it comes down to the more we don't see the more the criminals can use it? That's my position. With is being illegal(as with all things) it is left open ONLY to the criminals. I just think powerful people wish to keep it that way.

    Besides, most "law enforcement" is bought and paid for...no other proof can explain.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 1:18am

    say something is bad often enough and loud enough and eventually everyone thinks it is. complaining about new services and/or new technology has worked well for the entertainment industries for the last 100 years. look how politicians fight to do whatever they can to preserve an outdated industry, rather than looking at the advantages for everyone if progress were to be allowed to happen

     

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    Bergman (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 3:40am

    Consensual prostitution being even more victimless than copyright violation, I'm amazed to be reading about how criminals deserve to be punished on this site.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 4:57am

    I think most government officials feel that leaving certain web sites up is a kind of acknowledgement. If a web site is left up it means that it has "official sanction," that it has in a certain sense been approved. This ties back to the idea of holding sites responsible for what individual users have uploaded. This kind of thinking is hard to change.

    Just because it is on the internet doesn't mean I agree with it, but for some people it means we as a society agree with it, that we think it is a good idea.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 5:14am

    I think there's more misguided grandstanding here. I'm not against prostitution itself as a profession. This should not only be legal (and recognized as a profession) but the people in the business should get full support as any other worker.

    That said, I am against brothels and human trafficking and those should be punished. The issue here is how to differentiate willful prostitution from induced or forced.

    And in the end it's just a rehearsal of the infamous child porn filters. They do nothing to solve the problem much like blocking such content on backpages will do nothing to get the abusers.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 7:10am

      Re:

      "That said, I am against brothels...and those should be punished."

      Left out the part about human trafficking, since you'd have to be a very sick individual to support it. But are you suggesting imprisoning the operators of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch and such? Legal prostitutes in Nevada actually operate out of brothels of their own free will.

       

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        Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 12:21pm

        Re: Re:

        I was going to say the same thing. A proper brothel is the safest location for a prostitute because you bring the client into a safe and controlled environment. It's the back alleys and shady motels that are much more dangerous. As long as the employment is voluntary, brothels provide a distinct advantage in securing the safety of the sex workers and should be used the standard model.

         

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    Rob, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 5:59am

    You're kidding yourself if you think that shutting down backpage will in any way cut down on or make it more difficult for people to obtain the services of an escort or prostitute. There are hundreds of private web sites where these girls can advertise. While I don't know anyone that is involved in human trafficking or pimping I do know several girls that are independently involved in the escort business and they do so of their own free will. Most have full time jobs and some are in school but they all do it for the money. Either to pay for tuition or to help with extra bills.
    I asked them about advertising in craigslist and backpage and what would happen if that was taken away. One replied "You'd have to take away the entire internet for us not to be able to advertise on it". Another said "I don't advertise. I get clients from word of mouth and other people in the business. Both clients and other girls pass my name around. It's like pot. You don't need to go to craigslist to pick some up. It's just there."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 6:02am

    The difference between prostitution and Pornography (or erotic art) is the camera.
    Why not just advertise for porn actors and bypass the whole legal issue?

     

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    Laroquod (profile), Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 8:14am

    The anti-sex and anti-pornography crowd can't suppress their hated material legally, so they use anti-prostitution to try to stomp on the services with sex-based classifieds. Once you realise this, it all makes perfect sense. The crusaders *simply don't care* about stopping prostitution. That is just a stalking horse. Just like the censors *don't really care* about child pornography -- that's not their issue. Censorship is their issue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 8:21am

    Uh are we sure that backpage.com isn't actually a honey pot to catch the pimps, madames, johns and hos?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Their typically for each city is a message board or two that serves up information about the prostitution community. The guys and girls would rate each other and almost self regulate saying this girl has drug issues or this girl has a pimp. But since the prevalence of BP these sites have lost a lot of traffic as the girls have found that they can post on BP not get rated or called out for being flakes or robbing etc....

    It's also made law enforcements job a bit harder as they always knew about these sites and the girls would have very blatant ads now everything is much more coded etc as BP does enforce what's said or promised a bit more.

     

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    Jimbo (profile), Oct 4th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

    Stop trying to regulate, ban, criminalize and tax every freaking thing in this country! Reading the comments, most of you people have your heads up your tightly clenched assholes. If prostitution were a little less criminalized, perhaps I wouldn't have the need to screw as many married women as I do. They're starved for attention, most likely because their husbands are busy typing and complaining about meaningless shit on the internet. Get off this page and go jump on your wife, before I do. Assholes.

     

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    ahow628 (profile), Oct 5th, 2012 @ 12:46pm

    Will anyone think of all the victims? And by victims, I mean consenting adults exchanging money for services.

    I do understand that some of it is forced and/or underage type stuff, but seriously, I'm not sure why we are worried about adults and what they do in private.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2012 @ 7:16am

    its a fucking joke go catch somebody going to work thats just great viet nam but worse human slavery is crimnal but the bs thats going on these days is just pathatic i feel terrized going to store for milk im ashamed of my country and any cop that has the adasity to write a ticket to a poor bastard going to work has got no hair on his or asshole u must really feel proud the alienation your creating in this country is just shameful am scared to death for my children and grand children way to take whats left of protect and serve and sell yourselfs out

     

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    veronica Castro, Nov 24th, 2012 @ 7:41pm

    top trying to regulate, ban, criminalize and tax every freaking thing in this country! As long as the employment, hookers prostitutes, is voluntary, brothels provide a distinct advantage in securing the safety of the sex workers and should be used the standard model.

     

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    jenna, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 6:46pm

    backpage escorts

    police should just give up on weed and prostitution its making everyone happy for god sake we are all grown right..now do not get me wrong i hate these punk ass mothafuckas got these kids on these ads its wrong period sooooo with that said i cant be mad at that

     

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    jenna, Dec 5th, 2012 @ 6:46pm

    backpage escorts

    police should just give up on weed and prostitution its making everyone happy for god sake we are all grown right..now do not get me wrong i hate these punk ass mothafuckas got these kids on these ads its wrong period sooooo with that said i cant be mad at that

     

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    identicon
    Ugh ToYou, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 3:05pm

    Don't Like these sites

    I wish they never had these stupid sites. My boyfriend was constantly on them prior to meeting me and I often wonder if he ever stopped looking at these disgusting sites. I hope they all get busted and thrown in jail.

     

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      identicon
      Sickofitall, Nov 30th, 2013 @ 3:03pm

      Re: Don't Like these sites

      Maybe you should worry about your stupid boyfriend and not these sites because there is always gonna be all kinds of temptation in the world sounds like he is the problem and you for being with him. What an idiot!

       

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    One more thing, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 3:08pm

    And another thing

    It would also be nice if the people who carry the HIV virus stop posting on BP and stop being a potential threat to others.

     

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    julie, Dec 29th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    i got set up by a cop i was on backpage and its true but so what

     

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    identicon
    Derp Nerpington, Jan 14th, 2013 @ 7:11am

    Legal prostitution is safer prostitution

    Prostitution should be legal in the first place. A legal market is an open market, which means a safer market for both sex providers and their clients.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2013 @ 4:28pm

    Buy one chicken sandwich get one free at burger king that's what I call sollicitation

     

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    identicon
    rachel, Feb 6th, 2013 @ 8:30am

    bp

    Backpage is very popular in Hammond. In. We have gurls that just turned 18 some beeb hurt some been robbed by pimps my ex best friend melinda Milton is a pimp she sells her friends gurls that were minors

     

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    identicon
    MCube, Feb 12th, 2013 @ 3:07am

    Call Tracking Software

    Hey its A Nice Postů.. Wana Know About That Just Log On To:- http://mcube.vmc.in/

     

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    identicon
    anna, Mar 5th, 2013 @ 3:53pm

    how do we survive

    we survive by the means that we are given. cant go hungry and not gonna steal.what happens wen there is no help around bp is the answer to survival

     

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    Joe, May 6th, 2013 @ 9:13pm

    Good, catch the "pimps" and throw away the key! SCUM. Can't believe the crap thats on there and the rest of the net.

     

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    Dale, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 12:01am

    All this Bs

    The only comments I will make are these...
    Prohibition = massive failure - hello? Al Capone and all the other bootleg bosses that made millions and killed as many.
    War on drugs = massive failure - hundreds of thousands incarcerated for non violent offenses, drug addiction rates increase, 85% of violent crimes are drug related(why not? If you have an ounce of coke it's a mandatory sentence why not shoot the bitch)
    Prostitution illegal = some poor girl being at the behest of some nitwit asshole taking all the money and exploiting her and beating the shit out of her. Sex is not BAD, money is not BAD, consenting adults fucking for money is not BAD. It may be an unsavory choice for some, but hey, they are the ones that have to get up every morning and look themselves in the mirror.
    We all make bad choices with alcohol, sex, drugs, driving, affairs, smoking, driving too fast, eating, and anything else under the sun. The end point is this, whatever you CHOOSE to do with your time and life is your own(provided you do not violate the rights of others) and no one has a right cause or need to tell you otherwise regardless of their "moral" hang ups.

     

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    Jeremy doe, Nov 16th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Maybe if they pay taxes to government, it would be allowed.......:)

     

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    Sickofitall, Nov 30th, 2013 @ 2:56pm

    Yeah because there was never prostitution before Craigslist, the Backpage or the Internet! What freaking morons! It should be a crime for it to be illegal!

     

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    Maria Arora, Dec 10th, 2013 @ 12:38pm

    funny--- joke

    its a funny joke go catch somebody going to work thats just great viet nam but worse human slavery is crimnal but the bs thats going on these days is just pathatic i feel terrized going to store for milk im ashamed of my country and any cop that has the adasity to write a ticket to a poor bastard going to work has got no hair on his or asshole u must really feel proud the alienation your creating in this country is just shameful am scared to death for my children and grand children way to take whats left of protect and serve and sell yourselfs out


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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 4:24pm

    m

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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