Who said online petitions don't make a difference? According to a press release put out by Change.org and Groundswell, SF MOMA announced on Monday that the museum is immediately suspending its advertisements with SF Weekly as a result of the alleged sex trafficking controversy surrounding Village Voice Media-owned Backpage.com. The press release states that SF MOMA made the decision after Change.org and Groundswell members had brought the issue to their attention.
SFist contacted SF MOMA for comment on the matter, who confirmed it's true.
The campaign was started by Justin Wassel, an ordained minister from Columbus, OH, who gathered thousands of signatures asking Village Voice Media to shut down Backpage.com's adult section. The petition was delivered by 100 community members, including Norman Mailer's son, and 20 members of clergy directly to the Village Voice Media offices back in March. Ashton Kutcher also shed light on the topic a while back.
Wassel is currently petitioning Village Voice Media's current advertisers to pull their ads over the controversy. Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson of Groundswell also wrote to 50 advertisers on behalf of a clergy coalition of more than 650 faith leaders.
Here's the full list of high-profile companies who have halted advertising with Village Voice Media:
Starbucks, Macy's, Crown Imports, MillerCoors, AT&T, LiveNation, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, NYC Film Forum, High Times, Children's Wish Foundation International, Relativity Media, REI, American Airlines, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Buddy Stubbs, Harley Davidson, Harkins Theatre, Park Avenue Church, Carnegie Hall, NY Public Radio, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, IKEA, Miami Dolphins, H&M, Best Buy, T-Mobile, US Bank, LG, ASPCA, SF MOMA, IHOP
Update: Village Voice Media responded to the controversy in a written statement:
We do not disagree with the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) about trafficking underage children for sex. Of course, Village Voice Media stands against such repugnant criminal behavior. But we are not going to sit quietly while officeholders exploit crimes against kids for political purposes.
Backpage - the Voice’s classified section — is an industry leader in utilizing Internet technology, as well as hundreds of employees, to prevent such crimes. “Backpage has been aggressively reviewing their ads and trying to remove those ads that are unlawful and suggest they involve the sale of kids for sex,” Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), told the Dayton Daily News on September 27, 2011.
Backpage has developed strong cooperative relationships with frontline state and federal police agencies.
Read VVM's entire statement here.