The Best Backpage Alternatives in Australia

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Backpage was a classified advertising website that had become the largest marketplace (especially in Australia) for buying and selling sex by the time that US federal law enforcement agencies seized it in April 2018. Although Backpage was taken down in 2018, these 6 websites are picking up the slack in Australia.

Sex work in Australia will always be a controversial topic but at the end of the day, sex work is a job just like any other. And many women in the Australian sex work industry argue that the perks such as the ability to set their own working hours, screen clients, and earn money doing something they love, makes it a better option than working a regular nine to five job.

Websites like Backpage.com provided sex workers in Australia with a safe platform for them to advertise their adult services. But in 2018, a law meant to curb sex trafficking and prostitution was passed, causing the shutdown of Backpage and dozens of sites alike. On this page we have compiled all the information you need to know about Backpage, what happened to it, and a few Backpage replacements in Australia.

The history of Backpage

ackpage was launched in 2004 by New Times Media (later to be known as Village Voice Media), a publisher of 11 alternative newsweeklies, as a free classified advertising website.

Backpage soon became the second largest online classified site in the United States (and the most popular in Australia). The old site included the various categories found in newspaper classified sections including those that were unique to and part of the First Amendment-driven traditions of most alternative weeklies. These included personals (including adult-oriented personal ads), adult services, musicians and “New Age” services.

Backpage Adult Classifieds Section

Although you could find postings of all kinds, Backpage.com was most known for its sex work ads, ranging from erotic massage to escort services. This platform allowed sex workers to find a lot of work with little effort, post/read reviews about clients, and communicate with other people in the industry – making it much safer than working the street.

Until January 9, 2017, Backpage’s adult section contained different subcategories of various sex work types. The company suspended its adult listings following accusations by a United States Senate subcommittee of being directly involved with sex-trafficking and the sexual exploitation of minors. However, many escorts and erotic masseuses admit to moving their ads to the “massage” and “women seeking men” listings.

Kristen DiAngelo, executive director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Sacramento, criticized the shutdown, questioning how many sex workers across the United States no longer had a way to support themselves. Backpage allowed for sex workers using the site to post bad date lists, screen clients and communicate with other sex workers to ensure a safer experience. Activists argued that the move would force some of the site’s users to work on the street instead.

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The Controversy and Suspension of Backpage.com

As early as 2011 critics and law enforcement began accusing Backpage of being a hub for sex trafficking of both adults and minors. Despite claims by the website that it sought to block ads suspected of child sex trafficking or prostitution and reported some per month to the NCMEC, which in turn notified law enforcement.

In 2015 Backpage lost all credit card processing agreements as banks came under pressure from law enforcement, leaving Bitcoin as the remaining option for paid ads.

Backpage supporters claimed that by providing prompt and detailed information about suspicious postings to law enforcement, including phone numbers, credit card numbers and IP addresses, the website helped protect minors from trafficking. They contended that shutting down Backpage would drive traffickers to other places on the internet that will be less forthcoming about crucial information for law enforcement.

Is Backpage Still Around? What Happened To It?

In April 2018, Backpage’s users were surprised that the site was not working. The site had been a target of anti-sex work groups and law enforcement for years, but Backpage.com was finally shut down by a new law designed to curb human trafficking and child prostitution.

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) came into effect, resulting in the takedown of dozens of sites that were suspected of facilitating or supporting sex trafficking. This included classifieds and personals sites that hosted ads for sex workers, like Craigslist Personals and Backpage.

Many people were affected by the site shutdown, including former Backpage executive Michael Lacey who was charged with human trafficking for knowingly facilitating prostitution on his site. 

Although sex trafficking of adults and minors is a real problem, and it is possible that some of Backpage’s ads were for trafficked persons, there was a lot of pushback to the shutdown from sex workers themselves.

What Kind Of Services Could You Find On Backpage for Australia?

Whether you were searching from Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, or Canberra, you could find local listings of all types. You could find job postings, furniture sales, personal ads, and much more on Backpage.  However, most people went to Backpage for its adult services section.

Postings ranged from professional BDSM practitioners, erotic masseuses, escorts, sugar babies, cam girls, and other kinds of sex workers. While most sex workers posted under “women seeking men”, there were listings for all genders and orientations. There were female to female, male to male, and male to female services as well, although significantly less popular.

If you visit Backpage.com today, the site is completely inaccessible, save for a notice from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation about the seizure of the site. This caused sex workers and clients to scramble to other Backpage alternatives, like the ones we list below.

Backpage Alternative Websites

  • Locanto
    Locanto is one of the latest Backpage replacements to move in after FOSTA-SESTA was signed into law. The site is available in dozens of countries around the world and has listings for jobs, events, real estate, and more. Head into the personals section and you’ll find ads for dating, casual hookups, and yes, sex work.
  • Skokka
    Skokka is different from other classifieds in that it’s strictly an “erotic personals portal” for dating and adult services. Choose from categories like Escorts, Swingers, and Transsexual to find what you’re looking for.
  • NewCracker.com.au
    It’s not difficult to find “luxury companions” and professional dominatrixes on Cracker. Some categories have more posts than others – you’ll have the best luck under the Dating section or Escorts category.
  • Punter Planet
    Punter Planet is a forum site dedicated to Australian escorts and sex workers. You can browse through a directory of nearby escorts, read reviews from other clients, and connect easily with your SWer of choice.
  • Crockor
    Crockor is a free classifieds site based in Australia, so it’s unaffected by the US FOSTA-SESTA laws. If you live in a major city, you’ll find hundreds of postings under the adult services category, with most falling under escorting or erotic massage.
  • Twitter
    We were originally going to include Swagmates, one of Australia’s premier adult services sites, on this list, but the site is no longer up and running. Instead, check out Twitter – tons of sex workers operate on the platform. Bonus: you get daily updates and photos as well!

Conclusion

Regardless of what you think about sex work, these platforms provide sex workers with a safe way to engage with clients. It is possible to fight sex trafficking without hurting adult services providers, and it starts with listening to the people actually affected by these laws: sex workers themselves.

References and Further Reading
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  5. ^ Astor, Maggie (April 12, 2018). “Backpage Chief Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy and Money Laundering”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
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  7. ^ “Backpage pulls adult ads and accuses government of ‘censorship. NBC News. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  8. ^ Salinger, Alexa (2017). The Ultimate Guide to Backpage Ads (1st ed.). New York: Amazon Digital Services. p. 38. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  9. ^ Nedelman, Michael (April 10, 2018). “After Craigslist personals go dark, sex workers fear what’s next”. CNN.
  10. ^ Levin, Sam (January 10, 2017). “Backpage’s halt of adult classifieds will endanger sex workers, advocates warn”. The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
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    Manuel Gamiz Jr. (July 12, 2014). “Website fuels surge in prostitution, police say”. The Morning Call. Retrieved January 29, 2017. Backpage.com was formed in 2004, but didn’t factor much in vice investigations until its adult services section flooded with ads around 2010, the same year Craigslist stopped its adult section.
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    Roy S. Johnson (January 25, 2017). “Sex Trafficking Victim Sues Backpage.com, Choice Hotels”. Alabama.com. Retrieved January 29, 2017. Last September, however, the Supreme Court in Washington state ruled 6-3 that a 2012 suit against Backpage.com by three Washington teenaged girls who were allegedly trafficked on the site, could proceed, in what turned out to be a preliminary blow against the site. Backpage was seized by the federal government on April 6, 2018.
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