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  • Beyond Email: Face-to-face meetings are still good for business

    2:35 pm on August 29, 2012 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CNBC, Entrepreneurs,

    When you’re an entrepreneur, the level of success for your business is largely connected to the amount of effort you put into it.

    Some business owners tend to celebrate a strong business relationship and work to maintain it. After all, when business is good, there’s no reason to rock the boat. But others – especially those of us with a true entrepreneurial spirit – are never satisfied. We’re constantly looking at ways to take it to the next level, to make a strong business relationship even stronger.

    Earlier this month, CNBC published a business feature story with the headline, “Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs.” I am proud to say that I was one of the entrepreneurs they highlighted. The portion that focused around me was centered around an already-solid business relationship I had with one of my clients.

    I wasn’t concerned about the business relationship I had with this client. We were working well together – so much so that our correspondence was pretty much limited to phone and email communications. But in an effort to learn more about how my site could jump to the next level, I scheduled a face-to-face meeting. The CNBC post explains it nicely:

    “Both sides were happy with the relationship, and as a result had done all of their communicating through email and the phone — but this time, [Collier] decided to make the trip out to see them in person. While there, he learned that the conversion rate for the company’s job postings wasn’t the 20 percent he thought, but closer to 50 percent — and the company was eager to do more business with the site.”

    That one meeting was such an eye-opener that I started setting up other face-to-face meetings with other customers. Just by sitting down and talking with them, really getting into the heart of the relationships, I was able to drive a 700-800 percent increase in revenues over 18 months – all because I actually took the time to sit down and chat face-to-face with my clients.

    Too often in business, we let technology drive the relationships with have with our vendors, partners and customers. While the Internet and all that it offers has helped us expand our businesses geographically, well beyond our physical location, it has also forced us to communicate with each other over middle-of-the-night emails and faceless conference calls.

    The idea of having a face-to-face meeting with a client is as old as business itself. Yet, in an age where business relationships are sealed over e-mail, it’s important to take a step back from time-to-time and take an old school approach.

    If that’s what it takes to stay one step ahead of a frenzied, always-on business environment, then so be it.

    Related Posts:
    Social responsibility: Yes, supporting a cause can be good for business
    An investor-free company has flexibility to adapt, grow and succeed

  • Judge should uphold state law to require age-verification for adults ads; Other states should follow.

    9:05 am on June 10, 2012 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: age-verification, , , , lawsuit, ,

    There aren’t many business owners who might cheer for more government regulation, but I can’t help but applaud legislators in Washington state for standing up to protect their young citizens from falling into a world of human slavery and prostitution.

    The new state law, which was set to take effect last week, allows classified advertising to be criminally prosecuted for publishing sex-related ads peddling children, unless they can prove a good-faith attempt to verify the age of the advertised person. Days before it was set to take effect, Backpage filed suit against the state over the law and won a 14-day restraining order, pending a judge’s decision.

    I continue to be just appalled by the reasoning that Backpage applies when it defends its actions publicly – and I certainly hope that the judge in Washington sees past Backpage’s morally-questionable arguments about being a friend to law enforcement or human rights organizations that are working to help victims avoid the traps of human slavery.

    Also see: CNN: A lurid journey through

    The company argues its site is not a haven for prostitution but instead one that provides a marketplace for a legal sexual encounters between consenting adults. That may be true – just as neighborhood bars provide a place for adults of legal drinking age to drink liquor. But the owners of those bars are required to check the identification of the people who enter their businesses, especially if they have reason to believe that the customer is under the legal age. If they fail to do so, they can be criminally prosecuted – as it should be.

    The argument is the same for classifieds, whether online or a community-based publication. Backpage should be required to either check IDs or shut down that portion of its site. Otherwise, someone should go to jail the first time a child is advertised for sexual favors.

    Backpage makes a lot of money – tens of millions of dollars – through the sex ads on its site and is certainly not afraid to spend some of that money on a gang of lawyers that will argue jurisdiction and First Amendment and attack the law itself for being unconstitutional or vague. The lawyers have already issued a reminder to the judge that, just because a law has a laudable goal doesn’t make it valid.

    While I have continued to be dismayed at other judicial decisions I’ve seen in my time, I have to believe that the judge in Washington will see past the hot air that Backpage has been blowing and uphold the state’s law. The states have an obligation to protect their citizens, especially those too young to protect themselves.

    We have rules about the types of businesses that can – or cannot – be established within certain distances from schools. We have labor laws that are designed to protect children from excessive work and there are social agencies that remove children from their homes when neglect or abuse are suspected.

    And yet a company that publishes sex-ads can’t be held responsible for accepting an advertisement that clearly offers children for sale for sex?

    It’s hard to imagine that there isn’t already a law.

    Earlier Posts: can’t pretend to fight a war that it keeps alive
    Keeping the Fight Alive against Online Sex Ads

  • Responsible Classifieds Sites: Yes, We Exist

    4:46 pm on May 22, 2012 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , OLX, online prostitution, PennySaver, Recycler

    There’s an old expression about the squeaky wheel being the one that gets the oil. It’s an an analogy that’s widely used in different scenarios – the school officials who pay attention to the trouble-maker but give no recognition to kids who pay attention in class or the boss who deals with the complainer in the office but takes little notice of the employee who meets all of his deadlines.

    In recent months, the attention on the online classifieds news business has focused pretty much on craigslist and backpage – and not in a good way. Mind you, I’m not complaining – and I’m guilty of also focusing on them - because it puts pressure on these sites to recognize the harm that they’re inflicting on society simply because they seem to turn a blind eye to human trafficking, child prostitution and other morally-objectionable crimes that flourish on their sites.

    I’ve spoken out on this time and time again and I’ve made no secret of how I feel about these sites. But what I – and the news media – have failed to do in our awareness-raising reports is to shed some light on those in the online classifieds business who are providing safe online marketplaces where prostitution – disguised as “personals” ads – are simply not allowed. Much like Geebo, sites such as recycler, pennysaverusa and, which followed Geebo’s lead and also dropped personals ads, have operated in a responsible manner. Though these sites are competitors to Geebo, I also like to think of them as allies in the fight to clean up online marketplaces and provide safe forums for people to advertise everything from job listings and car ads to real estate listings and garage sale items.

    It’s sad that the face of classifieds has taken such a dark turn. There was a day, back when newspapers dominated the industry, that these sorts of taboo activities that have become the mainstream were isolated to red-light publications and neighborhoods. Sure. it was a problem back then, too, but it was isolated. We could warn our children to stay out of those neighborhoods and away from those elements. Law enforcement officials were able to monitor the areas and enforce the laws when it was so warranted.

    Today, those sites have put these criminal activities into the mainstream, in a place where our children can easily access bad people with bad intentions without any supervision. Despite what the operators of these sites claim, their efforts to monitor are laughable.

    We should all take a lesson from the pioneer of classifieds ads – the newspapers. Mainstream family-oriented newspapers, which provided a forum for news and community on their pages, never would have allowed such ads on their pages. They were the gatekeepers that set the rules and standards for what was appropriate and what wasn’t. As an operator of an online classifieds site, I believe in following in their footsteps when it comes to serving as that gatekeeper for my own site.

    I continue to be both amazed and saddened that a handful of sites can disregard that gatekeeper role and let criminals roam freely on their sites to seek out victims. At the same time, I am proud to be part of another group of sites that have chosen to take the higher road and provide safe marketplaces.

    Today, I applaud them and encourage people to patronize them. Let them know that you appreciate what their efforts and responsible business practices.

  • can’t pretend to fight a war that it keeps alive

    10:05 am on May 8, 2012 | 1 Comment » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ABC, , , , Nightline, ,

    The old expression about money being the root of all evil is no more true than it is today in the offices of Village Voice Media, parent company of

    By now, it’s pretty much accepted that has become the Internet’s defacto marketplace for sex trafficking of both adults and children. Law enforcement officials know it. Prostitutes and pimps know it. And, certainly, the johns who fund this underground world, know it.

    But despite all the pressure for to pull these ads from its site – from police and politicians to activist groups and even those in the business, like me - no one at backpage seems to be fazed. I guess an estimated $22 million in annual profit for Village Voice is enough to ease a conscience and buy a good night’s sleep.

    Still, I continue to believe that it’s a fight worth fighting and I’m encouraged that is being kept under the spotlight for its practices. But I think what bothers me most is that the company tries to portray itself in a positive light, as a company that’s troubled by the acts of human trafficking that are being advertised on it site and is working hard to eradicate it.

    Give me a break.

    In a recent segment on ABC News Nightline, attorney Liz McDougall actually had the nerve to suggest, when pressed to comment about the amount of money profits from these ads, that “…this is not about money. This is about providing a tool to save children online.”

    I’m appalled at the suggestion that – which is regularly used by law enforcement officials as a way of both learning more about the underground world of sex trafficking and targeting traffickers in sting operations – would ever be considered a tool for saving children.

    In the same Nightline interview, McDougall suggests that “if shutting down the adult category on one website was the answer to stop child exploitation, I would be all over that and I would be out front saying that’s the answer. That is not the answer.”

    My response to that is that no one is suggesting that shutting down the sex ads on backpage will bring an end to child exploitation or human rights violations. But what is choosing not to acknowledge is the role that it plays in allowing this underground world to grow and prosper. McDougall says the site invests manpower in identifying questionable ads and refers those ads to law enforcement officials – but if it didn’t allow the ads to begin with, it wouldn’t have to monitor them. And the idea that a room full of employees manually scouring the ads, instead of a high-tech solution to identify them, is making any sort of dent in the problem is laughable.

    At Geebo, we don’t employ dozens of people to scour the site for possible acts of human trafficking or child prostitution. I pulled all of the personals ads from Geebo nearly two years ago – and my conscience and I sleep great at night.

    Related posts:
    Keeping the Fight Alive against Online Sex Ads
    As Prostitution Persists, Anti-Human Trafficking Activists Look to Root Causes
    Business decisions can be driven by moral values. Will Backpage step up to prove it?

  • Social Networks May Provide Connections But Job Boards Showcase Opportunities

    5:38 pm on April 10, 2012 | 1 Comment » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ERE Expo, , , Job Boards, , KODA, LinkedIn, Recruiting, Resume, SilkRoad, Social Network, Twitter

    It’s no secret that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the Internet’s go-to places for sharing news, milestones and – in this economy – leads on job openings. And certainly any professional who’s been searching for employment in recent years has put together a LinkedIn profile to showcase his or her skills.

    So where does that leave job boards, such as the one I host on Geebo? Are they destined to fall by the wayside as social networks become the new home for job listings?

    The short answer to that question is, quite simply, no.

    In fact, at the recent ERE Expo in San Diego – considered to be the premier conference for recruiting professionals – I noticed that the social networks were nowhere to be found. I saw no signs of Facebook or Twitter or even LinkedIn.

    It turns out that, when it comes to linking employers with prospective employees, social really isn’t the most effective route. Consider the points that a couple of recruiting and job board experts made during a recent Q&A in Forbes. Job boards, they said, offer faster signals to the market. They are good for driving lots of eyeballs to a single job listing that’s tied to a certain industry or location, which is especially good for reactive small businesses who tend to post a job as the need for help arrives.

    But recruiting over social networks has two primary problems associated with it (among others):

    1) The ability to apply online for something that a jobseeker may or may not be qualified for leads to what’s called “Resume Spam” by job seekers who cast the widest net possible by applying for everything – even if they’re not qualified or clearly didn’t read the job description.

    2) Friends tend to overvalue their ability to judge their friends abilities. Consider your out-of-work accountant neighbor. You know he’s out of work and you think of him when you hear about an opening out there – but what do you really know about his job skills, work ethic or professional background? He may be a nice guy and quick to lend a neighborly hand from time to time – but does that make him qualified for a particular job?

    When a job seeker comes to a site like Geebo to scan active listings, they can immediately filter down the choices by industry and location. Because these listings tend to be fresh, job seekers understand that there are opportunities out there.

    Sure, social is a great way for recruiters to identify people who might be good matches for their open positions. And as a means of learning more about potential candidates, social networks offer a greater insight that goes beyond the resume. But as a place to solicit and find the right matches, social is almost too big to be effective.

    Consider what happened to KODA a few years ago. The startup company rounded up millions in venture capital money to deliver a site that brought together the elements of social networks and job boards – a idea filled with challenges that eventually proved to be too much for the company, which has since headed into the sunset.

    Social has a role here but, by no means, should anyone start writing the job board’s obituary. In a recent blog post, SilkRoad, a company that focuses on “social talent management,” chimed in about the importance of job boards in finding talent and ranked sites that were the leading external sources for hiring.

    Not surprisingly, Facebook, Twitter and other social sites were nowhere on that list.

  • Keeping the Fight Alive against Online Sex Ads

    1:48 pm on March 26, 2012 | 2 Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fair Girls, , , Johns, New York Times, Online Classifieds, Pimps, Police, , ,

    I recently came across a couple of articles in the New York Times that really left me feeling disheartened, kind of frustrated and definitely sad. They both focused on human trafficking trends, specifically the use of online classifieds sites as a forum for luring, pimping and selling young girls into the sex trade.

    The first, titled “Online Sex Trade Flourishing Despite Efforts to Curb It,” left a sting in me, not just because I’ve been behind many efforts to curb the use of online ad sites for soliciting sexual encounters but more because police seem to have a “love-hate” attitude about the online sex ads.

    What can anyone possibly love about this online sex trade? Yes, it’s a sad state of society that this modern-day slavery exists, but police explain that online ads have given them a new tool to learn more about this once-underground world and “crack the code” that pimps and johns use to set-up sexual encounters. While I won’t dispute the need for police to be up-to-speed on the latest techniques and technologies, we can’t lose sight of the fact that every ad that law enforcement takes time to study is an ad for a real person trapped in this horribly violent world.

    The second article, an Op-Ed titled “Where Pimps Peddle Their Goods,” honed in on the sites that turn a blind eye on these sorts of advertisements, specifically, an online classifieds operation owned by Village Voice Media. For many companies, a scathing set of words in the New York Times would be devastating but the folks at Backpage are defiant and defensive about all of it. After all, they’re trying to protect their bread-and-butter.

    The AIM Group, a research firm, reports that online prostitution advertising on five U.S. web sites generated at least $3.1 million in February 2012, a jump of nearly 10 percent from February 2011. Of that, nearly 80 percent – or about $2.5 million – came from Backpage. On an annual basis, the AIM Group estimates at least $36.6 million in advertising revenue, with more than two-thirds – $26 million – generated by Backpage.

    As the owner of Geebo, an online classifieds site that doesn’t host a forum for “personals” ads, I’m not reaping the financial rewards that come from these sorts of ads – but my conscience and I are sleeping well at night. I killed the personals section on Geebo in September 2010. For some time now, I’ve been standing out on that limb all alone, asking my industry counterparts to join me in removing personals ads from their sites but instead being met with a deafening silence in response.

    Fortunately, while my industry counterparts stay silent, other groups, such as FAIR Girls, are turning up the heat on these site owners and working to raise awareness about what’s really happening on these sites. Andrea Powell, co-founder and executive director of FAIR Girls, takes exception to the idea that Backpage is being responsible, as it claims, because it says it tries to screen ads for minors and alerts law enforcement when it suspects trafficking.

    “As an advocate who also searches for missing and exploited girls, I can say honestly that it is very hard to find sex trafficked girls using the online classified ad sites,” Powell said. “Pimps hide their victims in hotels, use fake names, and make a real effort to keep us from helping their victims escape. Online classified sites like make it easier for pimps, not victims. It’s the new frontier of sex trafficking, and we want to see these sites shut down.”

    At the very minimum, it’s time for sites like Backpage to recognize that they’re not helping the problem but instead are making it worse, providing pimps and johns with an anonymous access to an online marketplace for sex. Certainly, I’d welcome any of my competitors in classifieds to shut down but if they want to stay in the game, I’ll just keep asking that they at least kill the area of ads where pimps and johns continue to destroy innocent lives.

  • As Prostitution Persists, Anti-Human Trafficking Activists Look to Root Causes

    10:06 am on March 13, 2012 | 1 Comment » Permalink | Reply

    At Geebo, we and our customers come together with shared values and shared goals to create a community. And, like our customers, we’re about more than just the bottom line. We care as much about how we do things as what we do. We like the way it feels to make ethical decisions, and we like being a part of a community that supports us in that.

    In our last blog post, we wrote about social responsibility and cause-based marketing. We know that many of you are committed to a crime-free internet, which is why you do your selling and buying on Geebo, and why you’ve supported us in removing our online personal adds. We’ve learned that, through such ads, many children have been and are sold for sex on sites like Craigslist and Backpage, and we didn’t want to be any part of it! While we can’t control everything and everyone, we make every effort to create a safe space, especially for children, so we took all personals off our site, and we’ve been thriving ever since. We’ve even urged other online classified sites to do the same. We are proof that business and ethics can–and should–go hand-in-hand.

    We recently saw the words of some of our fellow anti-human trafficking activists in the Opinion Pages of The New York Times, in a section entitled “To End Prostitution, Start with the Demand Side. Norma Ramos, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women; and Pamela Shifman, Director, Initiatives for Girls and Women, NoVo Foundation; respond pointedly and passionately to Al Baker and Tim Stelloh’s, As Other Crimes Recede, Prostitution Keeps Its Wily Hold. We hope you’ll take a few moments to read the article and Norma and Pamela’s responses, and as you do, remember that the average age of entry into “prostitution” in the United States is twelve. Twelve! Twelve year-old kids really don’t enter prostitution, they get forced, defrauded, and coerced into sex slavery.

    When we read pieces like this, and Norma and Pamela’s eloquent responses, we know that making the right ethical decision was, and is, good business. And we know that’s part of why you do you business with us. We wanted to say thanks, again, for your support, and reaffirm our commitment to a safe, transparent, and prosperous community.

  • Social responsibility: Yes, supporting a cause can be good for business

    5:13 pm on March 11, 2012 | 1 Comment » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Businessethics, Causebasedmarketing, Ethics, Socialmedia

    Sometimes, change can be good. And I’m starting to understand that advocating for change can also be good for business.

    As the founder and CEO of Geebo, I’ve made some business decisions in the past that tie more to my ethical and moral beliefs than they do to a bottom line. I’ve written in the past about how being an investor-free company allows me to make decisions that sometimes aren’t necessarily in-line with boosting the bottom line. 

    It wasn’t until I attended a Business Insider Social Summit last month that I came across a group of people who not only advocated for “doing good” as part of a business strategy but noted how those efforts can also be good for the bottom line. 

    Call it cause-based marketing, if you will. The panelists at the summit spoke of the large consumer market that not only supports companies that are committed to good causes but also may be willing to punish companies that don’t actively support good causes. How do they punish those companies? Carol Cone, a panelist representing Edelman Business and Social Purpose, said that more than one-third of American consumers openly criticize companies that don’t support good causes, refuse to buy their products or services or share negative opinions and experiences with others. 

    Through today’s active social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter and even Yelp., consumers are empowered more than ever to share thoughts and feelings about specific businesses and products. 

    Supporting good causes and – more importantly – making business decisions with those good causes in mind has long been a part of what drives Geebo into some areas and keeps it out of others. From our early partnerships with the Boys and Girls Clubs in the Sacramento area to a more recent partnership with WeGoLook, an online service committed to protecting online shoppers from being victims of scams. 

    Today, Geebo’s big push – on the site and beyond – is to promote a safe online marketplace for all. Specifically, that includes elimination of personals ads where human trafficking and prostitution can often be solicited, as well as being an advocate for the cause. I was alone on that limb when I killed personals ads and again when I called on my industry counter parts to follow my lead. None did – and some wondered how the business decision would impact my bottom line. 

    Frankly, I’d do it all over again. 

    You see, success can be measured in many ways, such as the ability to sleep with your own moral conscience or to bask in the positive feedback that comes from people who support your efforts. True business success is not always measured in dollars and cents.

     It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in that sort of thinking.

  • Facebook’s “fuzzy” math: There’s just no need

    1:55 pm on February 19, 2012 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Active Users, , Groupon, Investors, IPO, Valuation

    Did we learn nothing from the dot-com bust just a decade or so ago? Have we not learned lessons from the financial meltdown of the past few years? Or is that push for “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money” really so strong, that we’re willing to let financial fairy tales distort our perception of what’s really in front of us. 

    I’m talking about bringing back some honesty to the world of business, some transparency that keeps companies from exaggerating their financial health and exposing the markets to unnecessary risk. Case in point: Facebook and its upcoming Initial Public Offering. 

    Washington Post columnist Barry Ritholtz had a great piece last week about Facebook and a set of non-financial numbers might raise an eyebrow of the real growth potential of the social networking giant. He looked at the way Facebook counts active users and, more importantly, how they define those users. 

    Facebook has become just as much a “platform” as it has a destination site, allowing people to interact with Facebook without actually visiting Facebook. Have you ever clicked the “Like” button at the bottom of an blog post and had it show up on Facebook? Sure, you have. But you didn’t go to – the actual site – to do that, did you? Consider this excerpt from the Post column: 

    Why does this user-behavior metric matter? Consider what it means in terms of how “daily users” will generate revenue and profits. If all users do is click a “Like” button, but never make it to, they cannot be “monetized.” They cannot be marketed to. They do not see any advertising. They cannot be sold any goods or services. They take advantage of FB’s extensive infrastructure to tell their FB friends (who may or may not see what they did) that they liked something online. That’s all that happens. So they not only fail to generate revenue for Facebook that day, but they are actually a cost. It’s not cheap to maintain that massive infrastructure of Like buttons everywhere.  

    Now, if I’m an investor, this is important to know. Once investors start breaking down this information on a quarterly basis, via public filings, these are the sorts of questions that Facebook will have to address, especially if the financials don’t meet the expectation of the hype. Companies learn those lessons everyday on Wall Street. Just ask Groupon investors. 

    Don’t get me wrong. I made a conscious decision a long time ago to run my business in a manner that doesn’t have me answering to investors. And I’m happy with the way my company has grown over the last decade, in part because of that decision. But that what was best for me and my business. I’m not here to question Facebook’s decision to go public.

    What I am saying, though, is that businesses today need to be more responsible and transparent. We’ve seen what happens to businesses when they’re less than fully honest about the bottom line, the number of users, the growth forecasts and more. Some companies only talk about products “shipped,” instead of products “sold.” I can ship a million products, but if I don’t sell any of them, I’m not making any money. 

    I guess this really gets to me because Facebook is undoubtedly a great company with amazing growth potential. Why does anyone feel the need to incorporate “fuzzy” math into it? They’ve achieved critical mass and are on a growth trajectory that’s redefining the Web, marketing and advertising and even parts of the global economy.

    They don’t need to operate in a manner that indicates the opposite, that sets them up for a “gotcha” moment by analysts, bloggers or the government. They don’t need to cloud the picture for consumers or investors or even themselves. 

    The housing market and the banking industry operated for years behind cloudy pictures and fuzzy math and look how that turned out. If ever there was a company that could be honest and transparent without compromising its potential, that company is Facebook. 

    And yet, we remain determined to repeat history.

  • Super Bowl in Indiana brings tough new human trafficking laws; Other states should take note

    6:01 pm on February 5, 2012 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Indiana, ,

    Millions of eyes have been focused on Indiana for the events leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a major event for any region, with hundreds of thousands of people coming in for the big game and all of the festivities that go with it. Unfortunately, victims of sex trafficking rings are among those who arrive in cities where big events like the Super Bowl are hosted.

    But here’s a tip of my hat to the state of Indiana for really stepping up its game to send a message to pimps and johns who might be looking to solicit sex-trafficking victims, notably the underage girls who are forced into this world of modern day slavery.

    Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, just days before the big game, signed tough human trafficking legislation into law as a way of giving law enforcement officials and prosecutors the firing power to send a message that says, quite frankly, don’t even think about it. The new law closes previous loopholes and makes it easier to prosecute those who sell children into sex slavery rings. It also reduces the burden for prosecutors to prove coercion, which previously prevented traffickers from being prosecuted if the victim wasn’t being held against her will.

    More importantly, though, is the training efforts for non-law enforcement types, such as hotel employees and cab drivers, have received. These folks now know what to look for in a possible victim – young girls dressed inappropriately for their ages who appear to be quiet and insecure and who avoid eye contact. Likewise, they were warned about girls who fit this profile checking into hotels with no luggage. And they’re taught to understand that the victims are just that: victims, not criminals. These girls need to be rescued, not arrested.

    The Washington Post last week profiled the efforts of the religious congregations that bought shares of stock in major hotel chains so that they could be heard at the hotel executive levels about the responsibilities of the hotels in this fight. Many of the training programs were the direct result of this pressure campaign.

    For some time now, I have been sounding off to anyone who will listen about the responsibilities of online sites – including classifieds sites like Geebo – in preventing these sorts of encounters. Geebo doesn’t accept or post personals ads where these young girls are often advertised for sale. And I have personally called on my industry counterparts - notably Craigslist and Backpage – to do a better job of policing their site for possible human rights crimes.

    For the most part, my pleas have fallen on the deaf ears of my competitors. I guess there’s too much money to be made by selling those ads to be worried about the safety of innocent children being traded in sex slave rings. I can only control what happens on my site – but I’m proud to be a part of a growing effort to educate and inform folks about what’s really happening on these sites and how it can be prevented.

    This law in Indiana is a big positive push forward for our efforts – and I’m hoping that other states follow Indiana’s lead and get serious about laws that send “You’re not welcome here” messages to sex-trafficking criminals.

    Los Angeles Times: Super Bowl: Backed by tougher Indiana Law, nuns target sex trade

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