The moral panic surrounding sex work, as seen in today’s sex trafficking hysteria, takes another turn —
CHICAGO — Visa will not process transactions from online classified portal Backpage.com, the company announced Wednesday, after the sheriff from the second-largest county in the United States asked it to end its business relationship with the company for “moral, social and legal” reasons.
The move comes a day after MasterCard announced it had ceased doing business with Backpage after receiving a similar call to action from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
The website has long been the target of politicians and law enforcement officials, who charge that the site has provided a cloak of anonymity for pimps and unnecessary ease for their customers who use the site to arrange meetings with prostitutes.
Despite the outrage, efforts to effectively shame the company or pass legislation to force the Texas-headquartered, Dutch-owned company to shut down its adult advertising have been unsuccessful.
Frustrated, Dart, whose county includes Chicago, instead pressured the credit card companies, which are essential to Backpage’s livelihood.