Advertisers are warning that backpage.com’s advertising guidelines “are fundamentally misleading and deceptive”.
In a letter sent to the company’s chief executive, David Weil, the National Advertising Federation (NAF) warned that the company “may be breaching consumer protection laws and the law of supply and demand”.
Backpage has long claimed to be a “neutral and transparent” platform, with no links to any illegal activity, and it has also been credited with being a pioneer of “shopping cart” advertising.
But the NAF says the company is not neutral, and claims that “the information contained in the backpage advertising is misleading and that it is not available for review or evaluation in any manner”.
“The information provided on Backpage.org is intentionally misleading and does not accurately reflect the actual services offered to consumers,” the letter said.
“This misinformation is not only inherently misleading and inaccurate, but also inherently deceptive as it is designed to mislead consumers into believing that the information is true.”
Weil told the BBC that the NAFF has the power to make a determination about whether the company should be taken off the site.
“We have the authority under the Digital Economy Act to take a decision on whether Backpage is a market provider that needs to be regulated,” he said.
“We have to do that.
We are not taking a decision about whether Backpackers should be allowed to operate.”
That decision will be made by our lawyers.
“Read more: Backpackers are suing Backpage, accusing it of stealing millions from them and taking their money A backpage spokesperson told the ABC that the “misleading” ads were part of a “large number” of ads on the site that “do not violate any law”.”
The vast majority of our ads are compliant with all laws and are clearly marked as such,” they said.”
All advertisements are posted on the Backpage website in compliance with the law.
Ads that do not comply with the laws can be removed.
“Backpage is currently embroiled in a legal battle with an Australian woman who alleges the site’s advertisers are taking more than $2.3m from her and her family through backpage’s “free” advertising platform.
The woman, who goes by the name Amber, is seeking more than £30,000 ($46,000) in damages and claims she was falsely told she could get a refund for the ads that were displayed on her shopping cart page, but was instead charged $4.49 ($7.30) for each ad.”
If the backpeddlers who operate Backpage are aware that Amber’s claims are true, why are they continuing to promote these false ads?
“Amber’s lawyer, Peter Diamandis, told the New York Times that “this is the most significant case of fraud that we have seen in a long time”.Read more The NAF’s letter, dated March 10, outlines some of the advertising “misinformation” contained on the website.
It states: “The Backpage advertising platform does not contain any advertisements which are illegal, deceptive, misleading, or otherwise illegal or deceptive in nature.
“Backpage does not offer any services or products which are not in compliance, or which are otherwise misleading or deceptive.”
It continues: “In order to make any payment, a customer must provide Backpage with their name and address.
This information is not provided to Backpage for any other purpose.
In addition, the information contained on Backpeddle.com is intended solely for Backpage to sell to consumers and for the purposes of Backpage-branded products.
If a customer purchases Backpage products and/or services through Backpage or another site, they must complete a form to verify the identity of the buyer, as the Backpederates use this information to verify their identity.”
Read the letter here: Backpage.us: The Backpage story so farRead more about Backpage: