backpage.jpgTo the credit of Village Voice Media owned publications like SF Weekly, when covering the heat Craigslist has endured for its (now removed in the US) adult services (that is, sex worker) ads, they’ve been admirably upfront in acknowledging that their own website hosts the same kind of ads that had folks protesting CL’s Inner Sunset offices earlier this year. But now, with a lawsuit on the horizon for the alt-weekly chain, will that applause-worthy transparency come to an end?

As long ago as June, 2009, SF Weekly’s Anna McCarthy responded to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster’s question “Are you aware that the volume of ads in the SF Weekly’s ‘adult entertainment’ classifieds section is up more than 400% in the 4 weeks since craigslist closed its ‘erotic services’ section?” by saying that “, an online classifieds site owned by SF Weekly’s parent company, has indeed seen a spike in traffic since Craigslist cut its Erotic Services section.”

McCarthy also muses that “(m)aybe Craigslist was unfairly targeted over sites like because of its limelight status after the Craigslist Killer,” by those who felt the site facilitated sex trafficking.

However, that “unfair target”ing may be no more: Ars Technica is reporting that a suit against Village Voice Media claims that Village Voice Media knowingly allowed the pimp for a 14-year-old girl to post photos of the young woman and advertise her sexual services on Backpage, the same section of the weekly chain’s sites that had such a great traffic spike last year.

The minor filing the suit, identified only as M.A., says VVM “aided and abetted her pimp in facilitating prostitution and child pornography” and that the weekly chain “had a desire that these posters accomplished their nefarious illegal prostitution activities so that the posters would return to the website and pay for more posting.”

In response, VVM’s Andy VanDeVoorde posted that “The lawsuit is riddled with errors” and asserts that “(w)ithout our knowledge, the predator violated our terms of use.” He also points out that the company willingly cooperates with authorities, and actually provided the evidence to convict the pimp of the minor in question.

Photo: From’s “Escorts” section ad for Rose Massage, which is apparently “right next to House of Bagels” in San Rafael. Oh, great, so you can pick up breakfast, after!

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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