back to article Humanitarian champ or sex-trafficking profiteer? Fresh sueball argues Salesforce is the latter

Salesforce, self-appointed ethical champion of the US West Coast, is facing down a lawsuit that alleges it was embroiled in the Backpage.com sex-trafficking scandal. According to the sueball, lodged yesterday in a San Francisco court by 50 Jane Does, Salesforce was "among the vilest of rogue companies, concerned only with …

  1. macjules Silver badge

    From Bloomberg

    Salesforce took on the web portal as a client and provided tools to help manage its “trafficker and pimp database,” resulting in Backpage’s resurgence, according to the complaint.

    At this point shouldn't the Federal authorities be involved as well? One wonders why Salesforce wasn't being questioned about the existence of such a database last year when Backpage's CEO was on trial.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: From Bloomberg

      In light of FB, et al, and the selling of database information, I do wonder if Salesforce had access to the Backpage database and what they could be using it for. As always, one should follow the money....

    2. Diogenes

      Re: From Bloomberg

      Salesforce took on the web portal as a client and provided tools to help manage its “trafficker and pimp database,” resulting in Backpage’s resurgence, according to the complaint.

      I am sure that Backpage had tables named "pimp and "trafficker" that Salesforce supported for them.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: From Bloomberg

        Well, there is a synergy there between sales types and, shall we say, women for hire when a big client is in town.

  2. steviebuk Silver badge

    Sales people

    are mostly evil and all they care about is making a sale to get their bonus. You could try to argue this is like gun makers and gun shop owners being responsible for mass shootings, but this is different. They wouldn't sell to people they knew were going to commit mass shootings. However, from what they are saying in this case, it looks like they are accusing Salesforce of knowing what the site was being used for, yet kept selling them their software. I guess will see if the courts agree with that view or not.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Sales people

      Not all sales people are evil and sales engineers in particular can deliver real benefits. When a salesman turns up with a solution to a problem that you didn't know existed, his bonus is not going to worry you.

      As a working engineer I have seen it from both sides, worked with some extremely nice sales people, and come across a few who are prepared to stand up and say "I cannot sell this because my customers will lose trust in me."

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Sales people

        I think I've just had the misfortune of only ever running into sales people that spout marketing bullshit all the time and through out buzzwords. I'd rather they be honest.

  3. jpo234

    Create embarrassment and go for the deep pockets. The oldest trick of trial lawyers.

    1. Marty McFly
      Facepalm

      Oldest lawyer trick....

      You forgot ....'and then offer to settle out of court'.

    2. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      You left out the part where Salesforce.com pays the plaintiffs a few million to go away, and take this out of the public eye.

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Didn't work so well for Avenatti when he tried this with Nike, though.

      :)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This seems to be another one of those "well we accused Y of X" so everyone should stop using Y regardless of whether anything has been proven.

    I'm not saying that the company in question wasn't doing anything wrong but the accusation is that Salesforce worked with them before they were convicted.

    If we go down this road all I have to do to win against my competitors is to get someone to start accusing them of anti-Semitism (works well if they've ever criticised Israel), sexism (helps if there are a majority of men on the board) etc. etc.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Coat

      If we go down this road all I have to do to win against my competitors is to get someone to start accusing them of anti-Semitism (works well if they've ever criticised Israel), sexism (helps if there are a majority of men on the board) etc. etc.

      Generally referred to as a smear campaign (but not to be confused with 'test', although recent concern over numbers taking up the latter might suggest some actual confusion over the two)

  5. mibj01
    Devil

    Anonymous lawsuits are the lynch-mobs of the modern age...

    Oh well, another public anonymous lawsuit hoping to profit on a profitable company.

    I wonder for how long they sent ransom demands to Salesforce before they publicly announced the lawsuit.

    These lawsuits stinks of getting rich quick schemes... and the more "urgent" the matter the more the "woke" people screams...

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Anonymous lawsuits are the lynch-mobs of the modern age...

      I am not too clear about this; are the Jane Does anonymous to the court as well or are their names only witheld from the public?

      If the former, then anyone could start an action on the sketchiest of evidence.

      If the latter then I can understand as the plaintiffs may well have moved on in life and wish to avoid attention.

  6. Kicker of Metaphorical Cats

    Domino

    Oh no, some guy drove our truck in to a crowd and killed a bunch of people! We better buy back all the trucks and start selling paper towels!

    Yes, extremely crude example but I simply cannot get on board with a vendor, service provider, or manufacturer being liable for someone else committing a crime. We would all need to give up our careers and go start mowing lawns or something, at least until someone buries a body in their yard and you take the hit for camouflaging it with such a well maintained natural green carpet.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Domino

      Domino

      Oh no, some guy drove our truck in to a crowd and killed a bunch of people! We better buy back all the trucks and start selling paper towels!

      thought they did Pizza

    2. Diogenes

      Re: Domino

      Even better - a nutter makes a totally legal 1500EU donation to a currently political party. Offices of said party raided & talk of banning it (not endorsing the actions/policies of either the nutter or the party in Austria - but this does seem a step waaaay to far).

    3. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Domino

      I've several proven inventions which will never see the light of day unless someone else independently creates the same. That happens rather more often than one might think. They've nice upsides yet they can be readily turned to uses that I, frankly, don't want to live with.

      As to Salesforce and Backpage.com, Once the revelations had started showing up with very regular basis, I wouldn't want to be the salesman having anything to do with them. I've done sales, extremely good at it although managlement keeps telling me I'm doing it wrong,* I have ethics and morals while doing that job as well.

      * - My customers would find out I'm not working and leave despite everything thing on sale that day. I put their interests first. Commissions could go hang as I had repeat customers, the best kind.

  7. Joeyjoejojrshabado

    Presumably then

    They are also suing the websites ISP, hardware providers, office landlords, electricity company and toilet roll supplier for their enabling roles?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully this will at least help the horrible and unconstitutional FOSTA and SESTA laws to be overturned, since Salesforce likely has the money to fight this idiocy.

    The demise of Backpage has put countless sex workers in danger. Instead of being able to advertise on the internet, they're now forced onto the streets. And now the moral crusaders are trying to cause more harm by damaging companies that worked with them to provide a safer environment for sex workers.

    I have nothing but contempt for those who would classify all sex workers as victims or criminals, and intense hatred for those who would make their working conditions worse.

    But going after those who would force people into sex work is hard, going after a website is easy. Naturally the cops choose the easy way, never mind how many people they hurt along the way.

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Now Senator Kamala Harris, D-CA, was the Attorney-General at the time. Also a Democratic Presidential candidate at this time. Not the only blemish. Don't even get me started on her and the GFC mortgage foreclosure scandal.

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