The origins and history of the Backpage.com escort site is in the headlines every day, and it is often cited as the main reason for the site’s popularity and the number of criminal charges filed against its operators.
But it is a story that is more complicated than it first appears.
Read More: Backpage: A business model in crisis According to a 2009 investigation by the Associated Press, the site was established in 2009 by a group of friends, including a former model, to help the growing number of young women seeking to get a little extra cash for sex.
Backpage quickly became known for its escort ads, in which the models and the men would offer their services in exchange for a few dollars or, sometimes, a few pounds.
They were often accompanied by photos and videos of them posing with their lovers, with the goal of getting the men to pay up.
Backdoor.com, the AP wrote, had “a unique and lucrative business model that involved exploiting the vulnerability of underage girls, and then using them for sexual purposes.”
A lawsuit filed by a California teen, Victoria Soto, against Backpage in 2016, accused the company of violating federal law and violating her privacy.
While many in the escort industry, and the general public at large, credit the site with turning some young women on to sex, the lawsuit was dismissed in May, after the judge ruled that the lawsuit lacked merit.
In June, the U.S. Department of Justice said it would launch a probe into the Backdoor’s business practices.
In October, the company announced it was ending its operations, citing the federal investigation.
The company’s website has since been taken down.
More: Backpeddlers in the world of prostitution: A story from the Philippines, where prostitution is legal, the internet is illegal, and people still go to sex trafficking services The lawsuit filed in 2016 alleged that Backpage exploited its customers and then charged them fees based on the number and age of the girls it worked with.
The lawsuit also alleged that the company made it difficult for users to flag potential backpage ads, and that Backpages advertisements often contained links to other websites.
In its ruling in the Soto case, the DOJ cited the company’s “egregious and persistent failure to protect the public from its conduct.”
Read more: What it means to be an escort in the Philippines: A look at the latest stories, and where you can find us online.
It also said it will no longer host ads for adult entertainment.
But, back in November, the US Department of Education found that Backdoor did not have a policy to protect users’ personal information and that it had “failed to disclose to its users the risks of using its services.”
In February, the Federal Trade Commission said it was investigating the company and that the agency would take enforcement action if Backpage does not comply.
In May, the FTC also said that Backroom did not comply with its privacy rules.
In October, Backroom said it had terminated the operations of the Sotos lawsuit.
The legal saga over Backpage and its reputation as a sex trafficking site is a complicated one.
The site is the focus of an ongoing lawsuit by the Justice Department over a provision of the Communications Decency Act that prohibits online advertising companies from selling sex.
In addition, Backdoor has been under scrutiny for its advertising practices, and for its alleged failure to comply with federal law.
It is not clear what, if any, penalties Backpage would face if it were found to have violated the Communications Act, which prohibits the use of an Internet platform to solicit or receive compensation for advertising.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.