The actions of Backpage.com could be starting to hurt Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages.
Critics, including the Minneapolis City Council, accuse Backpage.com of not doing enough to clamp down on the child prostitution advertising that occurs in its pages. According to the Southwest Journal, every one of the 20 child prostitution cases the Minneapolis Police Department has investigated this year have led back to Backpage.com. The most girls in these cases were between 12 and 14, the Journal said.
On Saturday, the Star-Tribune reported that local restaurant Famous Dave's would not be renewing its ads in City Pages, partially due to the controversy over the sex ads. Backpage.com is owned by City Pages's parent company, Village Voice Media, and it provides many of the adult ads in the alt-weekly's pages.
General manager Steve Nicholas said Friday that Backpage was not the main reason, but a contributing factor. "We're a family restaurant and we've never liked that our ad was one page away from [adult] ads," he said.
Southwest Minneapolis restauranteur Kim Bartman, owner of Gigi's Cafe, Bread and Pickle, and many other local hot spots, said she would consider pulling her advertising from the publication as well. However, she wasn't solidly convinced that City Pages was knowingly publishing ads for child prostitutes alongside the dozens and dozens of adult ads published by Backpage.com in City Pages' pages.
Village Voice Media said the problem isn't confined to its pages, and the fact that Backpage.com's ads are "third party content" shield the company from liability under federal law.