A U.S. representative claims sex-trafficking ads have been reduced by 90 percent since the seizure and closing of Backpage.com and the signing of a new law intended to reduce ads for sex activity. But after doing some digging, The Washington Post found that the volume of sex ads being published now is almost as high as before the closing of Backpage and passage of the new law.

“New websites that mimic Backpage with names like ‘Bedpage’ and Switter are picking up sex listings that used to appear on Backpage, which was seized and shut down by the federal government before the passage of SESTA-FOSTA — the law designed to reduce sex ads.

“The volume of ads dropped dramatically after the shutdown of Backpage but has been climbing since,” the Post quoted Chris Dickson, of Uncharted Software, which tracks data on sex-trade ads. “There is now a volume approaching what we observed before.”

The Post’s “Fact Checker” column reviewed a comment by Republican Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, who claimed “We have shut down nearly 90 percent of the online sex-trafficking business and ads” in a video posted by the House Judiciary Committee.

“Wagner may be sincere in her belief that sex work in general fuels human trafficking but it’s a bit of stretch to say a 90 percent decline in sex-trade ads means there is a 90 percent decline in the sex-trafficking business. There’s really no way to be sure, and it’s misleading to suggest otherwise,” the Post’s Glenn Kessler reported.

“In any case, the 90 percent drop in sex-work ads was a one-time event, sparked mostly by the demise of Backpage, not the FOSTA-SESTA law. By the time the Judiciary Committee video was released, sex-work advertising had begun to rebound — and it keeps going up, despite the law.”

The Post rated the Wagner claim “three Pinocchios” out of a possible four.

(Read more here, here, and here, and about the impact of SESTA-FOSTA here.)

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