Backpage shuts down adult ad section, cites government censorship as cause

backpage internet search (WATE photo)
backpage internet search (WATE photo)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Advertising site Backpage has shut down its adult ad section as of Monday, saying in a statement the decision to do so comes after years of government pressure and censorship, making it too costly to continue.

It’s a site known to some, where money can be exchanged for sex/sexual acts.

If you go on the site now and click on your city, under the adult section you’ll see ‘censored’ in red letters under every tab. Any option you click on will give you a message claiming government censorship.

Message on Backpage
Message on Backpage

“They’re making money from it, they’re making money off of human lives,” said Amy Dilworth, executive director of Knoxville’s Family Justice Center. “Unfortunately we usually find that problems like this always go back to that awful thing of money and greed and power and that’s the source of this, so if they’re going to make money from it they’re going to keep doing it.”

Dilworth says at the very least the move is a step in the right direction.

Amy Dilworth
Amy Dilworth

“This kind of step is not changing that behavior this kind of step is saying that we don’t choose not to profit from, we don’t choose to give opportunity,” Dilworth said.

“Through working various cases Backpage has come up,” said Lt. Warren Hamlin with the Knoxville Police Department.

Lt. Hamlin has worked for the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) unit for nearly seven-years and says shutting down the adult section is a double-edged sword.

“One, it’s great that we’re trying to shut places like that down so that prostitution and human trafficking and child exploitation, all those horrible things, could potentially be slowed down,” said Hamlin. “However, it was also an investigative tool for us to look for it.”

Seeing both the pros and cons, Lt. Hamlin feels shutting down the adult section of won’t make a difference.

Lt. Warren Hamlin
Lt. Warren Hamlin

“Because there are so many places to do it… there are so many places to solicit sex,” Lt. Hamlin said.

“To stop human trafficking, to stop things of this sort and nature it takes a whole community standing up and saying no,” said Dilworth.

Dilworth says it’s unfortunate but shutting down the adult section of Backpage may not stop those who are looking to do this from simply finding another outlet. She sends a message of hope to victims of human trafficking.

“You’re not alone,” said Dilworth. “Coming and sitting down with someone just sitting down and talking with an advocate to find your resources and options is where you begin.”

If you or someone you know could benefit from resources at the Family Justice Center you can call the Family Violence Helpline at (865) 521-6336.

District Attorney General Charme Allen gave WATE 6 On Your Side this statement about the change to,

This is a step in the right direction, as this move will undoubtedly make it more difficult for traffickers and sex offenders to operate. On the other hand, these offenders will simply find other methods to accomplish their crimes, so we must remain vigilant in the coming months to meet this challenge. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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