Before Back was terminated, Cpl. Chris Heid could locate sex trafficking victims exclusively on the popular classified advertising website. Back was responsive to the Maryland State Police corporal's requests for records and his agency's warrants and subpoenas. When he asked the site to remove advertisements he determined were trafficking-related, moderators complied — sometimes within minutes.
The shutdown had rippling effects on how law enforcement agencies combat trafficking. Inthe center responded to 10, reports of possible trafficking. When Back went dark, so too did access to countless posts that police used to identify and find victims.
Anti-trafficking operations by Maryland State Police yielded three more arrests in when Back was seized than the year prior, but the of victims police came in contact with dropped 38 percent, from in to 70 last year. Delaware didn't pass legislation against sex trafficking until14 years after it became a federal crime. Using findings from the Criminal Justice database, the Delaware Human Trafficking Interagency Coordinating Council reported that 13 human trafficking-related charges were made between and Like many law enforcement agencies across the country, Delaware State Police utilized Back in its efforts to combat online sex trafficking and conducted "several" pro-active operations in both New Castle and Sussex counties, according to Detective Joshua Rowley.
While pimps posted sex and perpetrators bought trafficked minors on Back, Rowley searched the site for evidence and victims of the illegal trade. Background: Feds charge Back founder after human-trafficking investigation. A congressional investigation found that Back knowingly facilitated prostitution and child sex trafficking, and it concealed criminal evidence by stripping words like Delaware prostitutes craigslist alert" "little girl" and "innocent" from so-called "adult" geared toward perpetrators seeking minors.
It just flies in the face of reason. More: Sex trafficking: Police get special training to spot it early.
Rowley called the shutdown of the multimillion dollar website a "success" for officers nationwide. In a few cases, when Back moderators saw a photo that appeared to bethey would tip Maryland State Police off. Back posts that police relied on to build cases splintered across dozens of websites vying to become the next online sex ad giant, making the jobs of police officers across the country potentially more difficult. Heid now searches eight or nine websites to locate children and other trafficking victims being sold online. Some of the sites law enforcement agencies like Maryland and Delaware State Police check require users to up.
Rowley said investigators have seen an uptick in street-level, word-of-mouth prostitution and trafficking.
Social media sites like Tinder and Grindr are used by sex traffickers to solicit clients. Facebook Messenger "became big in trafficking," which causes access issues for law enforcement officials, he added. Other alternative sites have chat boxes that may not have a real person on the other side.
Heid said he'll be communicating for a while before realizing he's interacting with a robot. Back launched inbut it wasn't until — two years before rival company Craigslist removed its adult services ad section — when the website began to experience immense growth.
Senate report. Before the classified ad website was taken down,were posted on Back every day, per Marinus Analytics, a technology company. Back may have gone dark, the only remnants of it a message from the U. In a report, Marinus found that since the disgraced website was taken down,sex have been posted daily in the U.
The spike could be due to the being posted multiple times, since no other website has gained the notoriety of Back, Marinus Analytics President Emily Kennedy said. Marinus Analytics works with more than law enforcement agencies in the United States, as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom, to help them identify and find victims of sex trafficking through artificial intelligence, like facial recognition tools.
When Craigslist shut down its adult services, then its personals section, many users moved to Back. After Back, those users again posted to other websites.
Days before the federal government shut down Back, President Donald Trump ed in April a controversial, overwhelmingly Senate-backed bill that allows states and victims to go after websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking. The act was seen as a bipartisan victory for legislators and trafficking victims who didn't want to see another website like Back profit and flourish without ability. But some internet experts, including one who testified against the legislation, aren't following suit.
FOSTA was not used to shut down Back and hasn't been used to build other cases, according to internet law professor Eric Goldman, who questions the supplemental value of the law. Goldman said Craigslist in effect "shut down a bunch of completely healthy social interactions" out of fear of federal indictment.
The Back shutdown may have discouraged some from buying sex, or at least made it more difficult, said Heid of the Maryland State Police. It could have also scared away pimps nervous about federal charges. Goldman said he's seen reduced efforts to find sex trafficking victims, while law enforcement agencies increased their prosecution of consensual sex workers.
Back was used by consensual sex workers to vet potential clients and advertise their services without resorting to less safe street-level work.
In January, Delaware State Police charged 40 people with prostitution-related offenses during a two-day operation. Officers used CityXGuide. While the sting was meant to address human trafficking, one person was identified as a victim. Reach reporter Taylor Goebel at tgoebel delmarvanow. More: Human trafficking in Delaware: Investigates sex work slavery.
Facebook Twitter. Sex trafficking: Back gone, but not the problem. Taylor Goebel The Daily Times.
Show Caption. Hide Caption. Recognizing the s of human trafficking. There are several warning s for human trafficking, including poor physical and mental health, a lack of control over their lives and harsh working conditions. If you see any of these s, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at Stephanie Dickrell, sdickrell stcloudtimes. Craigslist and Reddit remove personal in response to new bill.
A new sex trafficking bill passed by congress has prompted both Craigslist and Reditt to remove parts of their sites that could potentially leave them liable for penalties.
Human trafficking in Delaware. Yolanda Schlabach, executive director of Zo Ministries Inc. ZIP: 43015