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. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Bryan G. Stephens (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.

    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.

    Oh Bryan.  I am not a Democrat, but you knew that, didn’t you?  I am happy to enact such a law.  I also want to look for solutions in the private sector.  One problem with the rule or law that PayPal must interact with all groups is this:  Should the National Man-Boy Love Association have the right for PayPal to serve them?  How about the American Nazi Party?  How about Porn Hub?  How about Al-Qaeda?  

    • #31
  2. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Stina (View Comment):

    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?

    Should the National Man-Boy Love Association have the right to force PayPal to serve them?  How about the American Nazi Party?  How about Porn Hub?  How about Al-Qaeda?  

     

    • #32
  3. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Duplicate Comment.

    • #33
  4. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    db25db (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.

    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.

    I think that Jack Phillips is a hero.  I may have even sent him money.  My point is that you were not quite precise in saying that the issue was if he would bake a cake or not, it was a bit more involved than that.  

     

    • #34
  5. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    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?

    Should the National Man-Boy Love Association have the right to force PayPal to serve them? How about the American Nazi Party? How about Porn Hub? How about Al-Qaeda?

     

    I bet they don’t ban them.

    • #35
  6. ToryWarWriter Reagan
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    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?

    Anti-Trust law to break their monopoly power.

     

    This kind of crap is why I sold all my stock a while ago, despite them making me a lot of money.

    • #36
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