Earlier this week, the Seattle Police Department and Mayor’s office told us they hadn’t received a single voluntary tip from Backpage.com about possible juvenile prostitution ads on the Village Voice Media-owned classified site.
It turns out, SPD was a little off.
We got a call from the Weekly today, questioning some statements made by SPD, so we looked into it.
We learned that SPD did in fact receive some tips from Backpage.com–detectives are still working on a total count–in 2011, but did not receive any tips in 2010, according to SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb.
“That information was based on conversations I had with Vice and the Internet Crimes Against Children units,” says Whitcomb.
Whitcomb says he is “confident the department did not get any Backpage tips in 2010,” and added “If Backpage did front end age verification, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
In 2010, before police say Backpage staff began sending tips to the department, SPD investigated a number of cases of juvenile prostitution on the site. You can read about some of them here, here, and here.