Salesforce CEO hates Section 230, but his lawyers sure don’t

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, an open figure in the technology industry who is apparently not afraid to criticize other business leaders, spent the whole week criticizing Facebook for the company's refusal to moderate certain content on its platform , as political ads that contain lies. He is on tour promoting his book, Trailblazer and as a result is generating headlines and free promotion as a result. But a peculiar call to action that Benioff expressed two days ago on Twitter in favor of abolishing Section 230, often misunderstood, may not have been so well thought out.

That's because, according to BuzzFeed News Salesforce attorneys are using Section 230 as a defense, not in one, but in seven lawsuits related to the website's Backpage, to which Salesforce sold your cloud-based sales management software and other services.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the law that prevents technology platforms from being held accountable for the content posted by their users, and it is the same law that Salesforce attorneys believe will protect you from having provided technical assistance to a company that was closed by the federals for violating numerous money laundering and prostitution laws.

Techdirt founder Mike Masnick first drew attention to Salesforce using the Section 230 as a legal defense when he denounced the apparent hypocrisy on Twitter. Techdirt focuses on the intersection of technology, policies and laws with a focus on intellectual property, patents and copyrights, so it is not surprising that Masnick has seen it. The next morning, Masnick posted more details and personal thoughts on his website.

The backup page was a classified advertising site that the federal government considered a paradise for commercials. Veiled sex work. . His co-founder and CEO, Carl Ferrer, pleaded guilty to money laundering and prostitution aids, and part of his plea agreement required him to help keep the site offline after the government seized him in April. last year.

Salesforce, which helped Backpage businesses, can be held liable in the various lawsuits. But the company's lawyers have cited Section 230 in a legal presentation on Wednesday and have been using it for weeks as a defense.

"Salesforce opposes the Requests for the fact that it is entitled to federal immunity from the claim under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 USC § 230, with respect to claims in this action" , Salesforce attorneys wrote in a presentation for one of seven cases, east of Harris County, Texas. According to plaintiffs' principal trial attorney Annie McAdams, who spoke with BuzzFeed Salesforce entered into a contract with Backpage at the same time that state attorney generals went after the site.

Section 230 is currently at the center of a rather vicious partisan debate about the extent to which technology companies that own platforms such as Facebook and Twitter should moderate their platforms, and Republican politicians say Silicon Valley has a liberal bias. and unfairly punishes conservatives. Some of those legislators, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), have called for changes to Section 230 to force technology companies like Facebook to be politically neutral.

Salesforce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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