Transcript for Backpage Execs Forced to Face Sex Trafficking Allegations: Part 2
controversial website backpage.com has led us here to the capital. Where this week a contentious face-off between the senate and the men behind backpage is under way. Here as well, Tom and Nicole, along with other parents whose children were sold for sex on the site. The subcommittee published a staff report yesterday afternoon that conclusively shows that backpage has been more deeply complicit in online sex trafficking. This is not about curbing first amendment rights. A backpage moderator stated and I quote, any time we saw the word young, we were to edit it out. Through an automatic filter system, the site would remove words like Lolita or little girl. Perhaps most shockingly, amber alert from adult ads and allow them to be posted to the site anyway. Backpage's lawyer said this automatic filter was a tool to help them fight trafficking. The fact that these terms were stripped out through the screening process does not mean that that girl's age was changed. Reporter: On the witness stand, they all declined to testify. After consultation with counsel, I decline to answer your question. Reporter: Again backpage calling this a violation of their first amendment rights. This report details how Carl Ferrer and backpage, from the top on down, knew what was going on. What does that mean for backpage? I think it potentially means liability. When you proactively and actively decide to filter out certain terms, that's a game-changer, because you're talking about active participation. Reporter: Just hours before the hearing, backpage shut down its entire adult services section, replacing the page system a banner saying, the government has unconstitutionally censored this content. It was not censorship, no one told them to do that. Gloria Riviera, ABC news. Now that you've read the report, what do you have to say to that? Any comment at all for the parents who are here today? The victim's parents? Reporter: And without answers from backpage bosses, we contacted a former employee whose testimony was included in that report. She agreed to speak to us in shadow. The way they described the job as a moderator, is that we would be monitoring ads that came through the site for our adult content section. The ads would basically be, hey, come have a good time with honey, no rain coats would be code word for no condoms. So if the ad did get deleted, they would take $5 and post five more ads of the same one. You know just deleted this ad, and ten minutes later, you're seeing it again. Reporter: But some anti-sex trafficking groups have spoken out against backpage's shutdown. Saying it was a critical investigative tool for vice detectives to locate and recover missing children. They the invasive burden smm inquiry into backpage.com's editorial practices, creates an intense chilling effect for any website operator seeking to define their own moderation procedures for the third-party content they host. The debate will rage on, but the harm done by sex trafficking is undeniable ap. My dad gave us a lot of T sex talks when we were younger. He said, choose carefully who you give yourself to. He would say, you're giving a little piece of your soul to every person that you sleep with. So choose the people carefully. And, you know, make sure that you're doing it -- sorry. -- For the, like, right reasons. It tore our family apart. Reporter: Tom remembers spending nights driving around. The dreams of her going to college. Reporter: Searching desperately for his missing daughter. Day after day, yeah. Running through my mind, what I was going to do, how I was going to handle it when I found her. Reporter: But once Natalie returned home, it was more difficult than the family expected. I didn't know how to treat her. I didn't know if she wanted me to Hugg her. It was awkward. For the first time since the day she was born. And I was the first one to hold her and see her. I cut her umbilical cord. It felt awkward to hold my own kid. You know, if we're having to pick up the pieces in the wake of what backpage is doing, I mean, there's a huge cost. Reporter: Natalie and her family are suing backpage, her case, the first to focus on the claim that the site was editing ads. Their lawyers hope this senate report could be the key to winning their case. I can only tell you that when we finally got Natalie back for good, months later, the young girl we found wasn't the same Natalie that had left our home months earlier. In my mind, it's simple. What happened to my daughter on backpage.com is criminal. Reporter: In the crowd, a long-time supporter, yoda from the national center for missing and exploited children. I think today is a game-changer. I think it lays bare their level of knowledge about what they were dealing with, and how they chose to deal with criminal acts, the selling of children for sex. Reporter: But she said she knows backpage's self-imposed shutdown won't solve this problem. Who knows if they'll be back up tomorrow? Reporter: Just as quickly as it was shuttered, we found site. And the U.S. Is just the tip of the iceberg. Backpage is truly a global empire. According to the senate report, it operates in 97 countries and 943 locations worldwide. As far as what the future holds, the senate subcommittee is considering referring this case to the department of justice. The California A.G. Has filed a new criminal case against badge page citing new evidence. Backpage says it will fight these charges. To be clear, this is a crime. It is a crime that is rightly punishable by incarceration in prison. Reporter: Nichol, Tom, and Natalie back home are waiting for their day in civil court. What was it like to tell your story face to face to this committee that's been investigating this guy? Relief. This is a family fight. And you guys aren't going to quit anytime soon? No, never. Not until they're dead or go to jail. This is not a fight, Tom, Nicole and Natalie chose, but it's one they say they're determined to win, for other little girls and their dreams. There's nothing really I'm not looking forward to. Reporter: For "Nightline," I'm Gloria Riviera in Washington, D.C.
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