Backpage started out with small ads for household goods. So how did it grow into a major online market for child sex trafficking? Annie Kelly meets some of the survivors – and reveals how their fight for justice became a battleground for free speech on the internet
The first time Kubiiki Pride used Backpage, America’s largest classified website, was to buy a fridge. The second time she sold some clothes. The third time she was looking for her 13-year-old daughter.
The family had spent nine frantic months looking for MA, posting flyers, launching public appeals and scouring the streets. It took Kubiiki less than five minutes to find her on Backpage. “We were so desperate we were trying everything, but when my husband said check Backpage I was confused because I thought it was a site where you sold stuff you didn’t want any more. It never occurred to me that children were being bought and sold, too.”