Last week, PayPal published a new user agreement that would allow the company to debit up to $2,500 from a user’s account for engaging in “restricted activities,” including spreading “misinformation.”
The announcement drew much criticism, including from one of PayPal’s cofounders, David Marcus, who tweeted, “@Paypal’s new AUP goes against everything I believe in. A private company now gets to decide to take your money if you say something they disagree with. Insanity.” The soon-to-be owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, tweeted a reply, “Agreed.”
Many angry users posted screenshots of them closing their PayPal accounts in protest of the company’s anti-free speech policy and caused #BankruptPayPal to trend. It seemed that the backlash had been severe enough that on Sunday, PayPal walked back the policy, claiming the new user agreement “went out in error” and the company wouldn’t punish users for spreading misinformation.
That said, people who cherish free speech should not declare victory. After all, PayPal only partially reversed its policy. The company will still fine users up to $2,500 for other offenses listed under its user agreement, including activities presumably promoting “hate” and “intolerance.” After all, PayPal has a long history of labeling speech disagreeing with the woke ideology as “hateful” and “intolerant.”
Last month, PayPal, its subsidiary Venmo, and Google joined in banning the accounts of “Gays Against Groomers,” accusing the group of violating their user agreements without providing evidence. Gays Against Groomers is “a coalition of gays against the sexualization, indoctrination, and medicalization of children” and vocally opposes the hosting of drag queen story times at school.
In the same month, PayPal also shut down several accounts in the United Kingdom, including the accounts of Free Speech Union and its founder Toby Young. Young and the organization are known to fight back against cancel culture while advocating on behalf of academics who criticize transgenderism. Additionally, PayPal banned a parents’ group, UsForThemUK, that fought to keep schools open during lockdowns and confiscated its funds. One of the group’s cofounders said: “It is extremely hard not to draw the conclusion that this is a politically motivated cancellation of an organization that in some way offends PayPal.”
You don’t have to agree with the views of anyone banned by PayPal to be troubled by the company’s anti-free speech approach. And even though all eyes are currently on PayPal, the payment processor isn’t the only woke business seeking to regulate speech in the name of ideological conformity.
Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter have de-platformed many voices they don’t like, including the former president of the United States. For most people, being banned from social media doesn’t have many real-life consequences, so companies have increasingly resorted to imposing financial pain on dissenters.