Don’t be fooled by PayPal’s fakeout. The company wants your money, and it wants wokeness, and it’s planning on how to take both. And unless it is punished quickly, other banks will look to do the same thing.
On Friday evening, news broke of a revision to the payment company’s terms of service, set to be implemented November 3 (five days before the 2022 midterm election). The revision, in essence, says that PayPal can plunder the savings of anybody they deem guilty of “hate” or “misinformation”:
The financial services company, which has repeatedly deplatformed organizations and individual commentators for their political views, will expand its “existing list of prohibited activities” on November 3. Among the changes are prohibitions on “the sending, posting, or publication of any messages, content, or materials” that “promote misinformation” or “present a risk to user safety or wellbeing.” Users are also barred from “the promotion of hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory.”
Deliberations will be made at the “sole discretion” of PayPal and may subject the user to “damages” — including the removal of $2,500 “debited directly from your PayPal account.”
That $2,500 fine PayPal planned on giving itself the right to impose was for each “violation” of the company’s policies. Since every financial transaction by a group could be considered a “violation” under the right circumstances, PayPal essentially announced its right to plunder the accounts of any group and any individual it deems guilty of crimethink.
On Saturday afternoon, just a day after the planned changes broke, PayPal walked everything back, pathetically suggesting that the changes to its terms of service were the product of a typo.
JUST IN – PayPal spox on $2,500 fine: "An AUP notice recently went out in error that included incorrect information. PayPal is not fining people for misinformation and this language was never intended to be inserted in our policy… We’re sorry for the confusion this has caused."
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) October 8, 2022
“Oops! Sorry about the mistake! Now please move along and stop asking questions.”
Obviously, only an idiot would believe this. Friday’s leaked policies were no stray typo, but the product of substantial work. And there was nothing shocking about them. For years, PayPal has increasingly let political priorities override neutral business practices. At the start of 2021, the company blocked all payments to the Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo. Later, as chronicled in Revolver, it formed an unholy alliance with the Anti-Defamation League to “fight extremism and hate” by tracking the financial behavior of “hate movements.” In September, the company banned Free Speech Union, and only reversed itself after a storm of protest. Mere days later, the company then deplatformed Gays Against Groomers, a group critical of the sexualization of children.
PayPal trying to outright steal the money of non-woke users is just the rational culmination of the company’s priorities. This time, at least, some shouting on Twitter was able to reverse the policy before it began. But there is no reason to let things stop there. Lawmakers and regulators should act immediately make sure PayPal can never consider reimposing such a policy. There are plenty of things they can do. And if Republican lawmakers and AGs can’t take immediate action to protect their voters from being outright robbed by woke capital, then they deserve every political defeat they will subsequently suffer.
This isn’t just about PayPal. PayPal’s justification for confiscating its users’ assets could likely be copied by any bank with sufficient political motivation. And according to one notable finance and tech investor who spoke with Revolver, there are “high odds” other banks will adopt similar policies sooner rather than later.
Here is PayPal’s justification for seizing the money of its users, straight from the horse’s mouth:
If you are a seller and receive funds for transactions that violate the Acceptable Use Policy, then in addition to being subject to the above actions you will be liable to PayPal for the amount of PayPal’s damages caused by your violation of the Acceptable Use Policy. You acknowledge and agree that $2,500.00 U.S. dollars per violation of the Acceptable Use Policy is presently a reasonable minimum estimate of PayPal’s actual damages – including, but not limited to, internal administrative costs incurred by PayPal to monitor and track violations, damage to PayPal’s brand and reputation, and penalties imposed upon PayPal by its business partners resulting from a user’s violation – considering all currently existing circumstances, including the relationship of the sum to the range of harm to PayPal that reasonably could be anticipated because, due to the nature of the violations of the Acceptable Use Policy, actual damages would be impractical or extremely difficult to calculate. PayPal may deduct such damages directly from any existing balance in any PayPal account you control.
PayPal is using the umbrella of “reputational harm” to smuggle in ESG priorities. “Reputational damage” has long been a valid concern for financial institutions, but traditionally this has always referred to the financial solvency of the institution in question. If people believe that a bank is unstable or insolvent, it could cause a run on the bank and trigger bankruptcy.
But now, sinister actors are repurposing “reputational damage” as a backdoor for smuggling wokeness into a company’s policies. The truth, of course, is that PayPal cannot show it incurs even a single penny of loss if someone uses its service to sell an anti-vaxx T-shirt, an anti-trans book, or a Confederate flag. Concerns about “reputation” are simply an excuse, a convenient hammer for beating down pesky political nails.
Using “reputation” as a tool for financial deplatforming isn’t a new idea. In 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to the state’s insurance providers, telling them to stop doing business with the NRA lest they suffer “reputational harm” from providing politics-neutral financial services.
Our insurers are key players in maintaining and improving public health and safety in the communities they serve. They are also in the business of managing risks, including their own reputational risks, by making risk management decisions on a regular basis regarding if and how they will do business with certain sectors or entities. In light of the above, and subject to compliance with applicable laws, the Department encourages its insurers to continue evaluating and managing their risks, including reputational risks, that may arise from their dealings with the NRA or similar gun promotion organizations.
This is nothing less than suppressing constitutional rights by means of gangster tactics. Unable to ban guns or suppress free speech legally, left-wing governments instead tell companies their “reputations” will be harmed if they let people exercise those rights. Those companies, in turn, suppress rights the regime dislikes, all for the sake of their “reputation.” It’s strictly business, capiche?
The time to stop this conspiracy against your rights is now, not later. PayPal may have been stopped, but it can try again at any time, or other banks could steal their idea.
And fortunately, the fix is easy. There are a whole raft of laws that any state can pass right now to protect their citizens from unjust monetary seizures or financial deplatforming:
- Decree that no person’s account may be frozen or forcibly closed absent evidence of an actual crime.
- Ban any predefined fines in excess of some nominal amount (such at $40) suitable for covering things like overdraft fees. For any larger amount, a company must sue in court for damages.
- Legally clarify — and have state regulators issue guidance — that “reputational” risk-management frameworks for financial institutions should, as a matter of policy, consider only the reputation for solvency. Not “environmental,” “social,” or political matters. Prohibit banks from collecting any liquidated damages for so-called reputational harm.
All of this should be trivially easy to do. Woke corporations, including social media platforms, claim a First Amendment right to censor or blacklist you, which gives rise to legal challenges when states try to halt tech censorship. But nobody pretends that consumer financial service providers have a constitutional right to extort huge fees.
And for good measure, put the fear of God into PayPal. The company’s latest stunt, coupled with its previous acts of deplatforming, indicate a company with a troubling hostility to core constitutional rights. State AG offices should bombard the company with records requests, demanding to know how exactly PayPal develops its policies and reaches deplatforming decisions.
Patriots nationwide can rejoice that they successfully derailed a malicious plot to rob and suppress them. But this victory has only bought time. Only swift action by lawmakers and state AGs can turn this temporary win into a permanent one.