The CEO of online retailing platform Shopify deleted a post that explained the company’s commitment to free speech and replaced it with a modified version of it.
This post was deleted as the founder and CEO, Tobias Lutke, started to remove retailers that sold gun-related items, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Lutke deleted a post from 2017 titled “In Support of Free Speech” and created a new post called “In Support of Free Speech (Updated).”
He wrote that the company’s original commitment to free speech, during this time, “is too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast moving internet.”
Lutke mentioned that Shopify has found themselves in a position where they have to make their own decisions about issues such as hateful content. “And along the way we had to accept that neutrality is not a possibility,” he explained.
“And therefore Shopify will have to make decisions based on judgement when there is not a black and white, or even existing, legal solution.”
Lutke did not explain how the company’s decisions or judgments would be made. Shopify has also not been responding to questions on their decision-making process or which of their more than 600,000 retailers could be at risk.
The CEO also said that he stood by the philosophy of the original post, but did not explain how that would look in practice.
Last week Shopify deleted the account of the 3D-printed gun store owned by Cody Wilson without giving him any warning or explanation.
Wilson believes that Lutke’s post is hypocritical. “He felt the strange need to both violate (Shopify’s commitment to free speech) and maintain it ‘philosophically,’ which is nonsense and demonstrates a split ego,” he told the Free Beacon.
Earlier this week, more gun-related retailers including Spike’s Tactical, Franklin Armory, 1911 Builders and Rare Breed Firearms have also received notice that their Shopify accounts were deleted.
The company has also updated its Acceptable Use Policy, saying they will no longer accept certain firearms, such as “a semi-automatic firearm that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine,” as well as firearm accessories.
Spike’s Tactical explained that their business will have a significant effect from this decision, as they had made millions of dollars in annual online sales.
Those in support of firearms are upset with these new changes, including members of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“This policy update is misinformed and doesn’t contribute to increasing public safety. Instead, it limits customer choice and alienates law-abiding gun owners,” Stephen L. Sanetti, president and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told the Free Beacon.
“Today’s gun owners can trust NSSF-member retailers, who offer online services, to provide them with the respect, dignity, and service they have come to expect. When gun owners support these NSSF-member retailers, they contribute to a variety of industry-driven and effective public safety solutions.”
Shopify did not respond when the Free Beacon asked for a comment on the situation.
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