May 10th, 2012
03:59 PM ET

A lurid journey through Backpage.com

Editor’s Note: On CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," correspondent Deborah Feyerick reported on controversy surrounding the nationwide classified-advertising website Backpage.com. While working on the broad problem of sex trafficking, she and producer Sheila Steffen became aware of the website's adult section and how prosecutors say it's being used by some pimps to peddle girls online.

By Deborah Feyerick and Sheila Steffen, CNN

Go to Backpage.com, choose any city in any state, then click on the adult section of the nationwide classified ads website.

Young women wearing almost nothing pose provocatively. One of the first advertisements I open shows a girl in lacy black underwear. Her eyes are downcast, and she appears much younger than 19, the age stated in her ad.

No one checks whether it's true - not the ages or the identities of these young women. Someone else is clearly taking the picture. The pose appears unnatural, forced.

The text next to her photo reads, "Choke me. Spank me. Pull my hair. Do Whatever You Want...I don't Care - 19." The young woman promises "a time you will NEVER forget."

It's hard to know whether this alleged 19-year-old is doing this because she wants to or because she's being coerced. That's another thing the website doesn't check.

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