One of the more controversial aspects of online money transfer company PayPal has been its treatment of certain groups it considers to be fringe political organizations — almost always conservative.
Some of these groups are indeed controversial enough that they would probably warrant a second look. Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes is one person who’s been banned from using the platform.
So has Laura Loomer, the conservative provocateur who chained herself to the door to Twitter’s headquarters after her Twitter account was also banned (while this certainly got attention, it doesn’t really bode well for one’s sanity and/or journalistic bona fides).
However, whatever direction PayPal is planning to go, it isn’t exactly working. While sites like Alex Jones’ Infowars — another PayPal exile — may indeed not be the most rigorous journalistic organizations in the world, banning them just flames the fires of conspiracy theorists. (PayPal’s August 2017 decision to ban the website Jihad Watch, a decision that was later rescinded, according to Fox News, didn’t help.)
In fact, it all might just make those on the right think PayPal is using some sort of far-left group to determine who’s going to get banished from its services.
Which, in fact, is exactly what PayPal is doing.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Monday. PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said the company uses the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of “hate groups” as, in part, a guide regarding whom to ban.
If you’ve ever followed the SPLC or its hate group list, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say the group considers everything to the right of Marco Rubio giving a luncheon speech to a local chamber of commerce to be a hate organization.
In June of 2018, British Muslim pundit Maajid Nawaz and his group Quillam, both of which are anti-extremist and believe the Islamic faith should be modernized, won a $3.375 million settlement against the company for those bans, according to The Daily Caller.
There’s also the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. Both are fairly mainstream Christian conservative groups that are considered “extremist” and “hate groups” by PayPal, according to Faithwire.
Yet, Schulman doesn’t seem too concerned about all this.
“There are those both on the right and left that help us. Southern Poverty Law Center has brought things,” Schulman said.
“We don’t always agree. We have our debates with them. We are very respectful with everyone coming in. We will do the examination carefully. We’ll talk when we don’t agree with a finding: We understand why you think that way, but it still goes into the realm of free speech for us.”
Oh, OK. Are there any conservative groups you’d like to mention as being part of the discussion about who gets banned?
No, that’s not going to happen, because of course it’s not.
So how does PayPal not always agree with the SPLC? What are the other groups involved in making these decisions? How does PayPal come to these rulings on “fringe” groups? Again, we get nothing.
However, Schulman told The Journal that the 2017 clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, was a “defining moment” for the company, which should tell you something.
“Because the line between free speech and hate, nobody teaches it to you in college. Nobody’s defined it in the law,” Schulman said.
He said the company already had a working group to study the organizations that use its services, but decided to make it bigger after Charlottestville.
“The reason we had to expand the group is because websites may say something, but the links they have can link to hateful material and videos,” he said. “You can’t look at a headline and make a determination. You have to spend time to really think about it.”
If PayPal really is spending time to think about decisions like that, I’d like to hear about the conservative groups they’re consulting.
If not, one can only assume the worst — that it’s using an anti-Christian, anti-conservative group to discriminate when it comes to who uses its service.
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