AP Photo/John Locher
It’s been a while since anyone decided to turn their backs on the firearm industry, long enough that I thought maybe that kind of nonsense was finished. It turns out that it wasn’t. Not even close.
While the company Salesforce isn’t exactly a household name, that’s because the average American household isn’t their target market. Instead, they provide software services to the companies those households buy from.
Now, they’re the latest company to cut off the firearm industry.
Retailers like Amazon, eBay and Dick’s Sporting Goods have already banned or restricted sales of guns. Salesforce is taking that to a new level by banning retailers that sell certain guns and ammunition from using its sales management software.
- The ban covers Salesforce customers that sell automatic and semiautomatic weapons, 3D-printed guns and a number of accessories such as magazines capable of accepting more than ten rounds and flash or sound suppressors.
- A Salesforce spokesperson said the change affects new customers and a small number of existing customers when their current contracts expire.
- Typically, retailers use Salesforce software as a database to keep track of customers and what they purchase.
- The policy was updated in April, but first made public by the Washington Post on Thursday.
Worried about the ban, the gun industry says Salesforce is discriminating against gun owners. An analyst told the Washington Post it would cost one gun seller millions of dollars to switch to another platform.
Now, Forbes was quick to point out how Salesforce has a history with social issues, even highlighting a tweet from CEO Marc Benioff. It seems Benioff is a longtime supporter of gun control.
Which makes this move now rather curious. After all, there were plenty of companies adopting policies like this last year. If Benioff is so adamantly anti-gun, why didn’t he join the chorus then?
Maybe because he and his company weren’t looking like total scumbags back then?
You see, Forbes conveniently failed to mention one important fact about Salesforce, and that’s a lawsuit against the company. It seems that a group of 50 women is suing Salesforce for their role in facilitating human trafficking.
Fifty women have filed a lawsuit against Salesforce in a San Francisco court, claiming that the company facilitated “sex trafficking, negligence, and conspiracy” by providing tools to support the growth of Backpage.com.
The suit claims that Salesforce provided a customized database “tailored for Backpage’s operations, both locally and internationally,” which allowed the site to “market to new ‘users’—that is, pimps, johns, and traffickers.”
It further alleges that Salesforce helped Backpage “survive and even grow,” despite contemporaneous efforts to shut it down. At the same time, however, Salesforce was publicly boasting about its work to fight human trafficking.
The 50 women who filed the suit, identified as Jane Does 1 through 50, were reportedly sold for sex across the U.S. They claim that they were sexually exploited and trafficked through Backpage. “The Jane Does were forced, coerced, and made victims of sex trafficking by means of force, fear, fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat of unlawful injury to themselves and others, including family members,” the lawsuit reads. “Salesforce committed acts at issue with malice, oppression, fraud, and duress.” They are seeking unspecified damages.
Now, I’m not saying that Salesforce is responsible for what happened to these women. What I am saying is that the story broke two months ago, one all but guaranteed to give them a bloody nose, so now they’re suddenly virtue signaling about firearms?
Where was this moral outrage earlier?
The truth of the matter is that Backpage was long known to be used to connect people with prostitutes. It was the topic of countless articles, including how it may well be facilitating human trafficking. Salesforce opted to continue to work with Backpage despite these discussions, even as they bragged about combatting the very act they reportedly helped facilitate.
I can’t help but notice the timing and be more than a little bit cynical about their motivations.
After all, this looks like a public relations shell game. Look over here at how we’re not going to work with the lawful firearm industry rather than this lawsuit that alleges we helped facilitate one of the worst crimes humanly possible.
Why not cut off the gun companies last year? Because they didn’t have anything to really gain last year. Now, they desperately need to look like the good guys.
I hate to break it to them, though. It doesn’t. If anything, it makes them look worse.
After all, if they’ll cut off an entire industry that’s in compliance with the law, why not cut off a single website that had been linked time and again to sex trafficking?
I guess Benioff didn’t look at it that way, now did he?