In a letter sent Thursday, 46 attorneys general are confronting Backpage.com about what they consider unsuccessful efforts to remove advertisements for sex trafficking from the online classifieds website, reports the Maryland Gazette. The attorneys general asked Backpage.com, a hub for adult services advertisements, to voluntarily shut down its escorts section or release information detailing the site's attempts to remove illegal ads for sex, particularly those that feature minors. The letter was drafted in lieu of a subpoena, and the attorneys general want a response by Sept. 14.
It is the second such letter sent to Backpage, which is owned by Village Voice Media LLC and makes an estimated annual revenue of $22.7 million from adult services ads, according to Advanced Interactive Media Group. A similar letter, signed by 21 attorneys general, was sent in 2010. Backpage also serves as the online classifieds site for Village Voice Media’s 13 weekly newspapers and a number of other publications. In 2008, 42 attorneys general reached an agreement with Craigslist.com to stop illegal listings, and the website ultimately eliminated its “erotic services” section in May 2009.