Backpage.com is the No. 1 public location for sex trafficking and the site is partly owned by Village Voice Media, a company in which Goldman Sachs currently has a 16% stake.
After realizing that Backpage.com was a hub for illegal prostitution and sex trafficking of minors Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times writes that the company:
“Was mortified when I began inquiring last week about its stake in America’s leading Web site for prostitution ads,” and “It began working frantically to unload its shares.”
It doesn’t make sense that Goldman Sachs had no idea how bad Backpage.com could be when it comes to illegal acts, various high profile stories have been published over the years including one case in which a 15-year-old girl was raped. In another story 19 US senators asked that the company stop abetting sex traffickers, yet Backpage.com refused to back down.
According to Kristof:
“There’s no indication that Goldman or anyone else ever used its ownership to urge Village Voice Media to drop escort ads or verify ages.”
Backpage.com wouldn’t be the first classifieds ad website to drop its use of escort ad sections, In 2009 top classifieds website Craigslist decided to bring an end to a similar listing section on its popular website. Craigslist then went one step further, monitoring its “casual encounters” section to ensure sex traffickers do not find “work around” solutions for posting ads on the website.
Backpage.com representatives have not yet responded to Goldman Sachs decision to sell off its stage in Village Voice Media.