SF Weekly Feels Effect Of Campaign To Stop Online Sex Trafficking Ads

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A crusade to get companies to pull their ads from publications owned by the Village Voice has reached the Bay Area, where the Voice owns SF Weekly.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is joining the boycott to protest ads that critics say promote human sex trafficking.

Justin Wassel, a minister from Columbus, Ohio began this campaign with a petition on change.org. He’s appalled by the online sex ads on Backpage.com, which has picked up much of the business Craigslist gave up when it shut down its adult ad section. Backpage is owned by Village Voice Media, and now SFMOMA is yanking its ads from the Voice-owned SF Weekly, joining REI, AT&T, Starbucks and others canceling their contracts with the company.

“I commend them for understanding enough to pull away and saying ‘you know what, as a corporation we don’t need to be supporting that,'” Wassel told KCBS.

He maintained that children are being exploited and coerced through some Backpage ads, and at least 50 times, its advertisers have been charged with trafficking. The Voice told KCBS that the publication is cooperative with law enforcement, and censoring the papers won’t end exploitation.

“It’s not a matter for me of trying to take away their free speech. I’m pleading with them on behalf of these people as a human to another human, with civic duty,” Wassel responded.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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