50 Mayors urge online escort service to check ages

May 7, 2012

Mayors of nearly 50 cities across the country are urging Village Voice Media to require identification for people posting escort ads on its Backpage.com — an online ad service that has come under scrutiny from authorities for allegations that it's used to promote child prostitution.

In a letter sent Monday by the United States Conference of Mayors, the cities' leaders, including Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, say that authorities continue to find advertisements on Backpage.com that "reflect underage sex trafficking."

Backpage.com critics say the site is used to advertise underage prostitutes, often victims of sex trafficking.

Village Voice Media owns 13 alternative weekly newspapers, including Seattle Weekly.

Critics estimate that Village Voice Media makes more than $22 million per year from sex-related ads, a figure the Phoenix-based company has not disputed.