PayPal recently notified users they may be sanctioned up to $2,500 for promoting “misinformation” over the internet or if the company determines they “present a risk to user safety or wellbeing.”
The update states that “[v]iolation of this Acceptable Use Policy constitutes a violation of the PayPal User Agreement and may subject you to damages, including liquidated damages of $2,500.00 U.S. dollars per violation, which may be debited directly from your PayPal account(s).”
PayPal considers $2,500 to be an appropriate amount because it reflects a “reasonable minimum estimate of PayPal’s actual damages” which they claim would include “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.”
It almost goes without saying that the determination of what constitutes misinformation is up to the “sole discretion of PayPal.”
And there lies the slippery slope. Will opinions that PayPal administrators happen to disagree with or unwelcome (but truthful) news about a candidate the company supports now be deemed misinformation?
This company’s latest bow to the god of wokeness is just one more targeted attack against conservatives. PayPal is trying to deprive conservatives of a voice and punish us financially for what we say.
The Daily Wire reached out to Aaron Terr, a senior program officer at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, for a comment on PayPal’s latest move.
“Under existing law, PayPal has the ability as a private company to implement this type of viewpoint-discriminatory policy,” he said. “Whatever motivation PayPal has for establishing these vague new categories of prohibited expression, they will almost certainly have a severe chilling effect on users’ speech. As is often the case with ill-defined and viewpoint-discriminatory speech codes, those with unpopular or minority viewpoints will likely bear the brunt of these restrictions.”
Jeremy Tedesco, vice president of corporate engagement at Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Daily Wire, “These kinds of policies are unwise, threaten free speech, and invite legal risk. When companies apply policies to restrict the religious speech of their customers, they could run afoul of prohibitions on religious discrimination that exist in many state and federal laws.”
“Whatever PayPal’s intentions may be, censorship and chilling free speech is precisely the effect of these kinds of vaguely worded policies,” Tedesco explained. “We’ve seen social media companies use similar policies to stifle free speech on their platforms. We can expect a similar outcome with PayPal.”
Corporations have been veering into some dangerous territory recently in the name of social justice. Crowdfunding platform GoFundMe came under intense scrutiny in February following management’s decision to freeze an account established to provide funding for the “Freedom Convoy of 2022” protest in Ottawa, Canada.
The Freedom Convoy was protesting the vaccination mandates and other coronavirus restrictions imposed by the Canadian government and the account had raised about $9 million.
Following a major backlash from donors in America and Canada, the company agreed to return all donations.
Their decision to withhold the funds was undemocratic by anyone’s standards. It was not a good look for a company whose website touts its ability to provide individuals and organizations in financial need with “trusted fundraising for all of life’s moments.”
And it’s not a good look for a company that operates an online payment system used by companies and individuals of all political stripes.
Anyone holding the “wrong” opinion should ditch this service immediately.
UPDATE, Oct. 9, 2022: Since the publication of this article, PayPal issued a statement on Saturday: “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,” a PayPal representative said Saturday in a statement, according to National Review. It has removed the policy.
UPDATE, Oct. 17, 2022: A link to the “Prohibited Activities” in PayPal’s “Acceptable Use Policy” has been updated.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.