50 women are suing Salesforce for allegedly profiting from sex trafficking

By Melissa Locker

Fifty women have filed a lawsuit claiming that Salesforce profited from sex trafficking. The suit, filed Tuesday by women who identify as sex trafficking survivors, claim the cloud-based software company provided business tools to the adult advertising site Backpage.com, aiding and abetting the sex traffickers who used the now-shuttered website.

In the suit, posted by Law360, the women, referred to only as Jane Does, claim that through Backpage, they were trafficked for sex across the U.S., according to the complaint, and they allege that Salesforce helped.

They argue that Salesforce provided the tools that helped Backpage’s “trafficker and pimp database” recover from stalled growth, keeping the site afloat. The lawsuit claims, “Salesforce didn’t just provide Backpage with a customer-ready version of its data and marketing tools. Salesforce designed and implemented a heavily customized enterprise database tailored for Backpage’s operations, both locally and internationally. With Salesforce’s guidance, Backpage was able to use Salesforce’s tools to market to new ‘users’–that is, pimps, johns, and traffickers–on three continents.”

While Backpage was closed in April 2018, days before the CEO pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy charges, Salesforce is still in business and profitable with a reported $13 billion in revenue in 2019 alone. When reached for comment, a Salesforce spokesperson said, “We are deeply committed to the ethical and humane use of our products and take these allegations seriously; however we don’t comment on pending litigation.”

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