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Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

A group of women sued Salesforce this week on the grounds that the company allegedly worked with Backpage.com, a classified ad site whose founders were indicted last year on charges of facilitating prostitution.

Why it matters: There's been lots of talk about what the liability is for platforms that facilitate trafficking and other crimes. This is a different kind of case because Salesforce isn't a platform itself, but a vendor.

Details: The plaintiffs in the case, filed in California state court, are making negligence, trafficking and conspiracy claims against the enterprise software giant, citing services Salesforce allegedly provided to Backpage.

  • “In public, including on Twitter, Salesforce boasted about fighting human trafficking using its data tools,” the lawsuit says. “But behind close doors, Salesforce’s data tools were actually providing the backbone of Backpage’s exponential growth.”
  • The suit was filed on behalf of 50 anonymous women who, the suit alleges, were "sexually exploited through the use of Backpage.”

What they're saying: "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," said Salesforce in a statement.

Go deeper

Trading platforms curb trading on high-flying Reddit stocks

Major trading platforms including Robinhood, TDAmeritrade and Interactive Brokers are restricting — or cutting off entirely — trading on high-flying stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment.

Why it matters: It limits access to the traders that have contributed to the wild Reddit-driven activity of the past few days — a phenomenon that has gripped Wall Street and the country.

Updated 54 mins ago - Economy & Business

2020 was the economy's worst year since 1946

Source: FRED; Billions of chained 2012 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the last major economic report cards of the Trump era lends perspective to the historic damage caused by the pandemic, which continued to weigh on growth in the final quarter of 2020.

By the numbers: The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, a sharp slowdown in growth compared to the prior quarter. For the full year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the first annual contraction since the financial crisis and the worst decline since 1946.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.