By Alicia Kysar
Alicia Kysar is a senior at Columbia University studying English and Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Law.
In June of this year, MasterCard joined Visa and American Express in announcing that it would no longer allow its services to be used for purchasing advertising space on the adult ad part of Backpage.com, a website that hosts advertisements uploaded by users for a wide range of services and products. In recent years, the site has become particularly notorious for featuring advertisements for sex, a large number—more than on other such major websites—of which support the child sex trade or human trafficking. 
Of the five major websites that host advertisements for sex, Backpage.com hosts about 70 percent of the advertising for prostitution. In 2012, the AIM Group estimated that Backpage earned more than 22 million dollars a year merely from prostitution advertisements.  In April of 2015, Backpage.com published over 1.4 million advertisements on its section for sex, and most of them were certainly legal. The significant percentage of those that are advertising children or victims of trafficking, however, cannot be ignored.  Credit card companies, in a move to curb the ability of sex traffickers to advertise their victims on the website, have withdrawn their services from all “adult” ads featuring any sort of prostitution, thus making it impossible for traffickers to pay Backpage.com with any major credit card.