Washington Post Gives 'Three Pinocchios' To Rep. Ann Wagner For Falsely Claiming FOSTA Stopped 90% Of Sex Trafficking Ads

from the not-how-it-works dept

Back in July we were flabbergasted to see a stunningly misleading and dishonest video put out by the the House Judiciary Committee trying to claim that FOSTA had been a huge success in stopping sex trafficking. There is literally no evidence to suggest this, while there’s plenty of evidence to show the harm that has been created by FOSTA. One of the claims in the video came from Rep. Ann Wagner, who was the original sponsor of FOSTA and has been a leading voice in stoking the exaggerated and misleading moral panic around sex trafficking (which is a real problem, but very, very limited compared to what many — including Wagner — have said about it). Wagner’s latest trick has been to try to massively expand the PATRIOT Act for spying on Americans by again freaking everyone out about sex trafficking.

As we noted back in July, in the video, Wagner tries to imply that FOSTA helped kill off 90% of sex trafficking. She worded it awkwardly so that it clearly implies 90% of sex trafficking went away due to FOSTA, but it could also be read to just say that 90% of sex trafficking ads went away. As we pointed out at the time, this was clearly not true either way. While Backpage contained many ads, it stopped with those ads a year and a half before FOSTA was law, and was taken down by the feds before FOSTA was signed. So there was literally no way that FOSTA could be in any way credited for a drop in ads coming from Backpage.

I missed it, but a few weeks later, the Washington Post set its fact checker on these specific claims, and did an even more thorough analysis, even asking Wagner’s office for details. And those details make Wagner look even worse, leading the Washington Post to give her the full three Pinocchios in their final ruling on the accuracy of her claim. Specifically, Wagner’s office argued that a DARPA analysis saw a “weekly global ad volume dropped 87 percent from January to April.” But, as the WaPo article notes (and as we did as well) the vast majority of that was from the takedown of Backpage, which was not due to FOSTA.

But, from there things get even worse. The Washington Post asked DARPA for what happened after April and found… things are not at all what the House Judiciary Committee and Wagner were claiming. Indeed, while there was an initial decline due to Backpage shutting down (again, not due to FOSTA), it quickly went back up after April — conveniently ignored by Wagner and the HJC. Why contaminate the narrative with facts:

Worldwide ads had a daily average of about 105,000 when FOSTA-SESTA passed on March 21 and had dropped 28 percent by the time Backpage was closed on April 5. It then plunged another 75 percent and reached a low of 19,456 on April 17, for a total decline of about 82 percent.

But on the day the Judiciary Committee posted the video, sex-trade ads were back at about 50 percent of the daily volume before the law had passed; as of Aug. 11, they were at almost 75 percent….

?The volume of ads dropped dramatically after the shutdown of Backpage but has been climbing since,? said Chris Dickson, director of research engineering at Uncharted. ?There is now a volume approaching what we observed before.?

So, once again it appears that Wagner and the HJC like to completely make up stories for grandstanding political purposes. They over-hyped the size of sex trafficking to pass this bad law, and then they massively over-hyped the impact of the law, ignoring (1) that the impact they took credit for had nothing to do with the law, and (2) ignoring that the data didn’t actually support what they claimed.

So why the hell is anyway still listening to Rep. Ann Wagner and her use of “sex trafficking” to try to pass new laws?

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Comments on “Washington Post Gives 'Three Pinocchios' To Rep. Ann Wagner For Falsely Claiming FOSTA Stopped 90% Of Sex Trafficking Ads”

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D Bunked says:

Wash Post reported Saddam Hussein had Weapons Mass Destruction

I knew that was FALSE in 2002. Since got WRONG the evidence for going to WAR it has ZERO credibility on all lesser. It DELIBERATELY LIES for its liberal / globalist / neo-con agenda.

But now you’re ignoring that totally relevant FACT and re-writing its charge that one optimistic person was off by 40% on the day a statement was made?

What the hell is your purpose except to advocate openly advertising prostitution and sex-trafficking? Even for that, this is STUPID PEDANTRY, statistical analysis that attempts to justify YOUR morally WRONG position.

FOSTA is the law, Masnick. LIVE WITH IT. At least learn that you’re visibly going wacko repeatedly promoting what FOSTA attempts to prevent.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Hey, we know that’s just what those Northerners did who didn’t like how slavery was the law. And that’s why the South’s economy is still heavily slave labor based today.

… oh what’s that? We fought a whole civil war over slavery and abolished it?

But some guy on the Internet told me that the law is the law and we should just live with it!

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Wrong lesson. The lesson is start earlier. For that matter, change the system. By change the system I mean get rid of political parties, eliminate money from elections (or other parts of politics) and make lobbying for money a crime. In addition, sunset all laws at all levels, every seven years. It will take some time, but we will wind up with a more comprehensive, and much shorter list of laws.

Lobby all you want, in person, but hiring some K Street lawyer or delegate some person in your company, jail time. Oh, and any money offered is a bribe, and if accepted both parties go to jail.

ECA (profile) says:

Ummm, Ya?



introduced H.R. 4660, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), to ban discrimination against the unborn on the basis of sex. The sad truth is that victims of sex-selection abortions are overwhelmingly female. In fact, the United Nations estimates that 113,000,000 to 200,000,000 girls are demographically “missing”


Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO-02) awarded the St. Louis-based Christian Family Services (CFS) with the 2016 Angels in Adoption Award, recognizing the organization for its extraordinary contribution on behalf of children in need of families. CFS provides adoptive care for children, crisis pregnancy counseling, and counseling for families, couples and individuals.

CFS sounds like a CPC agency…A FAKE Anti abortion clinic..that are getting more and more Aid from our gov..

ECA (profile) says:



. Thus far in Wagner’s tenure, she has missed over double the amount of votes of the average member of Congress, at 4.7% of the time. Apparently the fact that she so frequently doesn’t bother to even show up to represent the people of Missouri’s 2nd District (the gerrymandered district covers the wealthy portions of St. Louis in its suburbs) isn’t a deal breaker for those voters, who re-elected her in 2016 with 58.5% of the vote.

Back in 2015, Wagner became a hyperbolic opponent of Planned Parenthood, when she went to the floor of the House to call for the organization to be defunded based on the fraudulent “sting” videos provided by the anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress. Rep. Wagner bought the lie hook, line, and sinker, ranting that it showed “barbaric murder” and insisting that Planned Parenthood was “selling body parts of unborn babies”.

in October 2017, when she got on Twitter to try to link Planned Parenthood to, and we’re not kidding… the Church of Satan. Where would she get such an idea? Well, apparently Ann Wagner gets her best information from Breitbart News, who linked two separate stories about the groups individually suing the government over anti-abortion laws as “proof” of their plot. We’ll let Snopes.com cover just how stupid that is, and then have you wonder how much of a moron Ann Wagner would have to be to believe it.

Rep. Wagner is ready to attack all who might wrong the public… when it comes to banks and payday loan lenders, she’d like to allow them to victimize the public as much as possible, as evidenced by her efforts in March of 2017 to gut the protections provided by Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform as well as the budget of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Go read it…look at the votes she made..

tracyanne (profile) says:

Re: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

That’s the problem when one allows religious belief to cloud one’s judgement.

That which does not exist is perceived as real, and that which does, like facts and evidence, is ignored, when it does not fit the narrative.

Unfortunately, that sort of magical thinking seems quite prevalent among politicians, and other would be arbiters of public intercourse.

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