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PayPal closes accounts in wake of events in Charlottesville

By Dan Wilson August 18, 2017 - 6:41 am

It is reported that PayPal has shut down the fundraising accounts of white supremacist groups and others involved in, and supporting, recent events in Charlottesville, USA and who may who have been using the payments service to fund activities. You can read the full commentary from PayPal here.

PayPal said: “It is with heavy hearts that we reflect upon the recent events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lives lost due to hatred and intolerance are a tragedy for every person in our nation. The PayPal community was appalled by the events that transpired – and our hearts go out to the people of Charlottesville and all who have been touched by this unacceptable hatred and violence. PayPal strives to navigate the balance between freedom of expression and open dialogue – and the limiting and closing of sites that accept payments or raise funds to promote hate, violence and intolerance.”

For PayPal it seems like their long-stated anti-hate policy clearly prohibits such donations:

“Regardless of the individual or organization in question, we work to ensure that our services are not used to accept payments or donations for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance. This includes organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups or Nazi groups.

If we become aware of a website or organization using our services that may violate our policies, our highly trained team of experts addresses each case individually and carefully evaluates the website itself, any associated organisations, and their adherence to our policy.”

It’s a interesting moral stand from a US company that is governed by the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. And many PayPal users will disagree with it. But it’s also hardly the first time that PayPal has done something along these lines: they have a solid heritage of corporate political activism.

Certainly to European eyes what’s going over in the US right now with regards to racism and anti-semitism is particularly bizarre and harrowing (and many yanks I know are appalled too). It’s hard to say though how PayPal’s stance will impact the situation. But perhaps most notable is the language they use in their statement. It speaks to the character of the company and senior staff admirably.

  • Peter
    3 months ago

    Fascists and neonazi music cd’s- and video’s are being sold on Ebay. I assume they are also being paid with Paypal. The use of nazi-signs is forbidden, but designers of cd covers know their way around this rule. I reported several times to Ebay the sale of neonazi-cd’s. Their policy is pretty lazy. They say they are gonna investigate, but sellers were still selling in the meantime. Facebook is totally different. One time I reported a nazisign on an account page. The Facebook-team took action immediately.

  • james
    3 months ago

    another great reason to become a cashless society! so the government (or the banks, or even just paypal) can tell everyone exactly how to think, or act, or speak, or else they cut you off from the world with literally no means to buy food or pay rent.
    of course nazi’s are bad, but its not paypal’s place. today it’s nazi’s (or accused of being nazi’s, or associated with nazi-like people, or just got photographed at the rally because you sell hotdogs and really dont care who buys your hotdogs), tomorrow it’s feminists or civil rights protesters or immigrants or whoever’s on the media/government kicking list that decade.

    • David
      3 months ago

      It has nothing to do with “tell[ing] everyone exactly how to think, or act, or speak.”
      PayPal is a private company and it is their right to choose with whom to do business and with whom not to do business. (Just as a cafe owner can choose not to allow entrance to a person wearing a Nazi uniform and singing Deutscheland Uber Alles.)
      And your lumping together Nazis with feminists and civil rights protesters… Come on, now.

    • james
      3 months ago

      your analogy would ring true if the cafe was trying to position itself to be the de-facto replacement for all food. the only place you can go to eat. whilst reserving the right to refuse food to anyone at any time.

      my reference was to the outcomes of setting such precedent further down the line, i wasnt “lumping in” immigrants and nazi’s, i don’t think they’d gel together, i was merely pointing out that such “groups” if you wish, can and do get targeted by the media, shaping public opinion, etc etc etc. so while it’s fine to take away the Nazi’s cash now, will it be okay to take away immigrants cash in the 2020’s, assuming the media has spun public opinion that way at the time? as long as the group in question is currently unpopular (even if protected by law), then it’s okay?

      i’m not defendnig white supremacists, i think they’re a bunch of tools, i’m saying it’s not paypal’s palce to police such things while trying to encourage a cashless society with them at (or near) the helm.

      I read a quote earlier today that i feel may apply, which i found quite interesting;
      “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”
      H. L. Mencken

    • David
      3 months ago

      Let’s agree to disagree, James.
      Whatever PayPal are attempting to do from a business positioning perspective, they are very far from becoming the lone, monopolistic payment method. Until they are (and if you ask me they never will be), they have every right to choose with whom to do business and with whom not to do business.
      As for the Mencken quote you provided, even wise people sometimes say foolish things. I completely disagree with Mr Mencken that “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels.” Looking back at the history of fighting for human freedom, and definitely the last 100 years, the vast majority of this struggle has been AGAINST scoundrels, not defending them. Ditto for “For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed.” Like the previous statement, this one too is simply incorrect, empirically and historically speaking.

  • fred
    3 months ago

    This has to be the most useful thing paypal has done in many years

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