Why has PayPal cancelled Toby Young and the Free Speech Union?

 

This article is from The Spectator edition published Thursday, September 22 and is reprinted here with permission.

I thought one of the benefits of being cancelled – I lost five positions in quick succession at the beginning of 2018 – is that it immunizes you from being cancelled again. After all, what more dirt could be thrown at me? The offense archaeologists did such a thorough job four years ago, sifting through everything I’d said or written dating back to 1987, that there was nothing left to dig up. But it turns out that was naive. Last week I got cancelled again.

The instrument of my downfall was PayPal, the technology company that supports online money transfers and operates as a payment processor for online businesses, auction sites and so on. At around 2 p.m. last Thursday I received an email from PayPal informing me that the company was ‘initiating closure’ of my personal account because I was ‘in violation’ of its ‘Acceptable Use Policy’. I looked up that policy and it covers a multitude of sins, but no clue was offered as to which one I’d committed. ‘If you have money in your PayPal balance, we’ll hold it for up to 180 days,’ it said. That was a bit annoying because I have over £600 in the account, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I mainly use it for receiving payments from European magazines I write for occasionally.

Then it got serious. Within a few minutes of contacting me, PayPal sent the same message to the Daily Sceptic, the news publishing website I’ve been running for two-and-a-half years, and the Free Speech Union, the organisation I set up in 2020 to defend people threatened with cancellation. In both cases, PayPal was shutting down the accounts for the same reason – breaching the Acceptable Use Policy. No further details. To give you a sense of how serious this is, about a quarter of the Daily Sceptic’s donor revenue is processed by PayPal and about a third of the Free Speech Union’s 9,500 members pay their dues via PayPal.

‘So what?’ you might think. Just email all those people and advise them to use a different payment processor. I’ll do that, obviously, but it’s inevitable that some won’t bother – some of them won’t even open the emails – and the resulting loss of revenue will be hugely disruptive. The Daily Sceptic has four people on the payroll and the Free Speech Union has 15 and they both operate on tight margins. I was relying on PayPal to deliver the service it promised to perform when I first signed up and which I’ve been paying for until now (1.5 per cent commission on every transaction). I had no idea it could just whisk the rug out from under you, with no notice and without having to provide any proper explanation. In my case, the excuse offered was obviously bogus. How could all three accounts be guilty of ‘violating’ the same policy within minutes of each other?

I tried appealing to customer services and got nowhere. I wrote to Vincent Belloc, the vice president of PayPal UK, and didn’t get a reply. I contacted the ‘corporate communications team’ in New York and London, telling them I was planning to write about what had happened and asking for a comment. Nothing. As so often when dealing with these Silicon Valley behemoths, it’s impossible to hold them to account. There is no redress if they decide to terminate your account.

So why has PayPal cancelled me? I can only guess, but I suspect it’s because someone at the company isn’t very keen on free speech. I did some googling and discovered that numerous organisations and individuals with dissident political views have had their accounts closed by PayPal recently, particularly on the three issues you’re not allowed to be sceptical about: the lockdown policy and other Covid restrictions, the mRNA vaccines, and the ‘climate emergency’.

The Daily Sceptic frequently publishes articles on those subjects and the Free Speech Union may have fallen foul of another taboo – defending people who’ve got into trouble with HR departments for refusing to declare their gender pronouns. PayPal, like most Big Tech companies, has sided with the trans-rights activists on that issue. A journalist called Colin Wright, an ex-academic with a PhD in biology and an outspoken critic of the view that sex is a social construct, lost his account in June.

I expect the Daily Sceptic and the Free Speech Union will survive this attempt to demonetise them, but it’s left me wanting to do something about this insidious new way of cancelling people. As the switch to a cashless society gathers speed, we need to put some laws in place to protect people from being punished by companies like PayPal for saying something their employees disapprove of.

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  1. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Toby Young: I did some googling and discovered that numerous organisations and individuals with dissident political views have had their accounts closed by PayPal recently, particularly on the three issues you’re not allowed to be sceptical about: the lockdown policy and other Covid restrictions, the mRNA vaccines, and the ‘climate emergency’.

    And transgenderism, I believe.

    • #1
  2. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    ESG is going to create a parallel economy.

    • #2
  3. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    I suspect that they have a mission and it’s not advocating for free speech.

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Because they are evil. 

    Let us call it what it is. 

    Evil men with evil schemes. 

    • #4
  5. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    “The arc of history bends towards fascism.”
    –what Barack Obama really meant

    • #5
  6. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    • #6
  7. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Wow!  I am stunned and sickened by this “condition” that the world now finds itself.  It’s oozing its way into every crevice of society like toxic waste.  I’m passing your story on to others to prepare and thank you for writing about it. I hope we all keep doing that much – and much more.  I hope you do a follow-up and let us know the outcome.

    • #7
  8. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    I suspect that they have a mission and it’s not advocating for free speech.

    Does that sign say open for all?  That’s a bold-faced lie…

    • #8
  9. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    I suspect that they have a mission and it’s not advocating for free speech.

    Does that sign say open for all? That’s a bold-faced lie…

    google’s motto was “don’t be evil” until they sold out to the CCP by blocking references to Tiananmen square protests

    • #9
  10. EJHill+ Podcaster
    EJHill+
    @EJHill

    This is why the WEF is pushing for worldwide central bank digital currencies (CBDC). It is all part of their strategy for a Communist China-style social credit system. Disagree with the government? Too bad. We have just frozen your assets.

    Inflation or shortfall in government revenue? Your savings account just plunged into negative interest rates. And there won’t be a damn thing you can do about it.

    Look at US coinage. It says “LIBERTY” on every one of them. When those disappear, liberty goes with it.

     

    • #10
  11. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Government exists to protect our rights, not to define them.

    • #11
  12. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    don’t invest in woke companies. fight blackrock

    look for people like Vivek Ramaswamy who are building the anti-blackrock investment firms which are creating mutual funds that don’t use ESG

    Woke will become secondary if the bottom line is hit – larry fink will not want to give up his private jet 

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Well, regulating them to not be allowed to refuse service in this way. They are a type of common carrier and should be held to that account. 

    If a bakery has to bake a cake, then a financial service cannot arbitrarily not engage in services over ideology they don’t like. This is really pretty simple. 

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I don’t use Paypal anymore. Period. End of discussion. I haven’t used them for quite a while.

    • #14
  15. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Stina (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Government exists to protect our rights, not to define them.

    What is your proposed solution?

    • #15
  16. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    don’t invest in woke companies. fight blackrock

    look for people like Vivek Ramaswamy who are building the anti-blackrock investment firms which are creating mutual funds that don’t use ESG

    Woke will become secondary if the bottom line is hit – larry fink will not want to give up his private jet

    Thank you so much.  I have been waiting for this information.  What is the name of that company?  Has it opened yet?  Does it have a low cost “Index Fund minus ESG Companies”?  Is his company competitive with the low costs of Vanguard and Schwab?

    • #16
  17. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Government exists to protect our rights, not to define them.

    What is your proposed solution?

    DeSantis solutions. A law that payment processors can’t ban people for legal behavior.

    • #17
  18. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Well, regulating them to not be allowed to refuse service in this way. They are a type of common carrier and should be held to that account.

    If a bakery has to bake a cake, then a financial service cannot arbitrarily not engage in services over ideology they don’t like. This is really pretty simple.

    Actually no.  The holding of that case was that the Colorado baker did not have to bake the cake.

    See the proposed solution in Comment #12.

    • #18
  19. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Well, regulating them to not be allowed to refuse service in this way. They are a type of common carrier and should be held to that account.

    If a bakery has to bake a cake, then a financial service cannot arbitrarily not engage in services over ideology they don’t like. This is really pretty simple.

    Actually no. The holding of that case was that the Colorado baker did not have to bake the cake.

    Actually, no. The case decided that the commission that went after the cake shop is not allowed to be so blatantly biased when going after him.

    Thats why the issue keeps being relitigated, from websites to invitations.

    • #19
  20. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    I think that your only solution is to expose this treachery by PayPal.

    First, you have to identify as either gay or trans. Once that is documented, you must claim publicly that this service was denied to you solely due to your newly ‘protected status’ as an approved victim. Then PayPal must bake your cake or they will lose all of their desired ESG standing.

    • #20
  21. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Stina (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Well, regulating them to not be allowed to refuse service in this way. They are a type of common carrier and should be held to that account.

    If a bakery has to bake a cake, then a financial service cannot arbitrarily not engage in services over ideology they don’t like. This is really pretty simple.

    Actually no. The holding of that case was that the Colorado baker did not have to bake the cake.

    Actually, no. The case decided that the commission that went after the cake shop is not allowed to be so blatantly biased when going after him.

    Thats why the issue keeps being relitigated, from websites to invitations.

    And, of course, it was not a matter of baking a cake. It was about decorating a cake with a specific message.

    • #21
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Well, regulating them to not be allowed to refuse service in this way. They are a type of common carrier and should be held to that account.

    If a bakery has to bake a cake, then a financial service cannot arbitrarily not engage in services over ideology they don’t like. This is really pretty simple.

    Actually no. The holding of that case was that the Colorado baker did not have to bake the cake.

    See the proposed solution in Comment #12.

    It is pretty simple.

    I gave you my proposed solution, and like a Democrat you focused on the wrong thing.

    Regulation to forbid people from discrimination when they become common carriers. PayPal is there.

    But, since this only hurts Republicans, Democrats don’t want to pass that sort of thing, so of course, you are against it, because you support Democrats who are for cancelling Republicans.

    • #22
  23. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    don’t invest in woke companies. fight blackrock

    look for people like Vivek Ramaswamy who are building the anti-blackrock investment firms which are creating mutual funds that don’t use ESG

    Woke will become secondary if the bottom line is hit – larry fink will not want to give up his private jet

    Thank you so much. I have been waiting for this information. What is the name of that company? Has it opened yet? Does it have a low cost “Index Fund minus ESG Companies”? Is his company competitive with the low costs of Vanguard and Schwab?

     

    This August, Vivek Ramaswamy launched the Strive U.S. Energy ETF (NYSEARCA:DRLL),

     

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):
    This August, Vivek Ramaswamy launched the Strive U.S. Energy ETF (NYSEARCA:DRLL),

    And last I heard, he’s doing extremely well!

    • #24
  25. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Well, regulating them to not be allowed to refuse service in this way. They are a type of common carrier and should be held to that account.

    If a bakery has to bake a cake, then a financial service cannot arbitrarily not engage in services over ideology they don’t like. This is really pretty simple.

    Actually no. The holding of that case was that the Colorado baker did not have to bake the cake.

    Actually, no. The case decided that the commission that went after the cake shop is not allowed to be so blatantly biased when going after him.

    Thats why the issue keeps being relitigated, from websites to invitations.

    And, of course, it was not a matter of baking a cake. It was about decorating a cake with a specific message.

    This is true. The cake shop never refused to sell generic cakes.

    What is PayPal offering that is not generic payment services?

    • #25
  26. EJHill+ Podcaster
    EJHill+
    @EJHill

    The ultimate solution may be a Constitutional amendment that makes viewpoint discrimination illegal for any commercial service that does not require customization of product as long as said service is legal in the jurisdiction it is being offered. Viewpoint discrimination is just as bad as racial or sexual discrimination.

    That way you don’t have to tell Visa and Mastercard that they have to offer card services to hookers or tell bakers that they must customize a cake with sex toys. 

    • #26
  27. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Well, regulating them to not be allowed to refuse service in this way. They are a type of common carrier and should be held to that account.

    If a bakery has to bake a cake, then a financial service cannot arbitrarily not engage in services over ideology they don’t like. This is really pretty simple.

    In related news, Andy Ngo reports that another advocacy group was not only cancelled by PayPal and Venmo, they also lost their email: Google shut down their gmail account for WrongThink.

    • #27
  28. EJHill+ Podcaster
    EJHill+
    @EJHill

    Paul Stinchfield: In related news…

    In related news, PayPal and Venmo are the same people. They bought them out in 2012.

     

    • #28
  29. db25db Lincoln
    db25db
    @db25db

    Stina (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Because they are evil.

    Let us call it what it is.

    Evil men with evil schemes.

    What is your proposed solution?

    Well, regulating them to not be allowed to refuse service in this way. They are a type of common carrier and should be held to that account.

    If a bakery has to bake a cake, then a financial service cannot arbitrarily not engage in services over ideology they don’t like. This is really pretty simple.

    Actually no. The holding of that case was that the Colorado baker did not have to bake the cake.

    Actually, no. The case decided that the commission that went after the cake shop is not allowed to be so blatantly biased when going after him.

    Thats why the issue keeps being relitigated, from websites to invitations.

    I’ve meet Jack Phillips in his shop in Lakewood.  This man has spent the better part of a decade and hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting LGTBQA-hole activists; first over designing a cake for a gay wedding and now over designing a trans celebration cake.  It goes on and on.  The ruling against the Colorado human rights commission did not shield him from immediately being sued again by the Trans jerks.  So perhaps Gary, you could be a little less flippant to the comparison.  Jack is one of many small business owners who have had to provide services for activities they disagreed with ( Stutzman in WA state, etc).  PayPal should have to do the same.

    • #29
  30. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    ESG is going to create a parallel economy.

    I don’t comprehend the practicalities, but a parallel economy may be required. After the outrageous stunt by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau to bar from the entire financial system people who disagreed with him (in that case truck drivers who thought Covid vaccine mandates were over-the-top), I became aware of how quickly even in a supposed liberal western democracy a totalitarian dictator could bar anyone from normal civil life.  

    • #30
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