In 2011, Backpage was the second largest classified ad listing service on the Internet in the United States after Craigslist.Backpage came under fire starting in 2011 for allegations that their adult services subsection was used for prostitution and human trafficking, particularly involving minors, and that the company took insufficient steps to prevent these practices.Backpage has had continued issues with credit card processors, who were under pressure from law enforcement to cease working with companies that allegedly allow or encourage illegal prostitution.In 2015 Backpage lost all credit card processing agreements, leaving Bitcoin as the remaining option for paid ads.They also say Backpage "encourage[s] dissemination of child sex trafficking content on its website".They say Backpage is much slower in removing ads that advertise children than ads placed by authorities aimed at trapping traffickers, guides traffickers in creating false pages for underage children, instructs traffickers and buyers on how to pay anonymously, and makes it easier to make adult posts than other posts.In an amicus curiae brief, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says the efforts of Backpage are inadequate and their reporting lacked in several areas.They say Backpage does not report all ads that have been flagged as being underage, does not report when someone tries to advertise children under 18 years of age, and does not respond to requests of parents to have ads of their trafficked children removed.
These included personals (including adult-oriented personal ads), adult services, musicians and "New Age" services.
Most of the criticism has centered on the charge that Backpage is used to market minors (i.e.
underage sex trafficking), and that they contribute to a surge of prostitution in areas that they operate.
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.