Despite Initial Pullback, PayPal Will Continue to Fine Users for 'Intolerance' and 'Hate'

Despite Initial Pullback, PayPal Will Continue to Fine Users for 'Intolerance' and 'Hate'
The PayPal app logo seen on a mobile phone in this illustration photo, on Oct. 16, 2017. (Reuters/Thomas White/File Photo)
Naveen Athrappully

PayPal intends to fine users who engage in activities that the payment service believes come under the categories of “hate” and “intolerance,” according to its last updated Acceptable User Policy (AUP).

In September, PayPal announced that it was amending its AUP, which is scheduled to come into effect in November. The policy stated that PayPal users cannot send, post, or publish any content that the company deems harmful, including promoting “misinformation.” For each violation, the company said it will take out $2,500 from the violator’s PayPal account. The update attracted immense criticism, and many people announced intentions to close their PayPal accounts.

The company soon turned into damage control mode, and in an email to The Epoch Times on Oct. 8, a PayPal spokesperson said that the AUP notice “went out in error” and had included “incorrect information.” The firm insisted that it was “not fining people for misinformation.”

However, PayPal’s AUP, which was last updated on Sept. 20, states that the fine still applies to individuals who use the service for activities related to “the promotion of hate, violence, racial, or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory or the financial exploitation of a crime.”

The company has not strictly defined the terms “hate” and “intolerance,” which opens up the policy for abuse.

“If we believe that you’ve engaged in any of these activities, we may take a number of actions to protect PayPal, its customers, and others at any time in our sole discretion,” PayPal said in its user agreement.

“You acknowledge and agree that $2,500.00 per violation of the Acceptable Use Policy is presently a reasonable minimum estimate of PayPal’s actual damages.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to PayPal.

Financial Censorship

Writing for Reason, Eugene Volokh, a Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law at UCLA, points out that if PayPal concludes that an individual buys publications that are deemed to promote “hate” or “intolerance,” the person might lose $2,500.

“Might you, for instance, be sharply criticizing a religion? Or saying things that sharply condemn, say, government officials (police, FBI, etc.) in ways that some might say involve ‘promotion of hate’? Or praising people who have acted violently (e.g., in what you think is justifiable self-defense, or defense of others, or even war or revolution)? If PayPal thinks it's bad, it'll just take your money,” Volokh warns.

In September, PayPal blacklisted the accounts of an activist coalition, “Gays Against Groomers,” which was opposed to the sexualization, medicalization, and indoctrination of children. PayPal earlier blacklisted evolutionary biologist Colin Wright, who is a frequent critic of the transgender ideology.

Overseas, PayPal faced backlash in September after it shut down the account of the Free Speech Union (FSU), a British organization that advocates for freedom of speech.

The company also previously closed the account of British organization “USForThem,” which had campaigned the UK government to stop the use of masks for children in school settings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zachary Stieber contributed to the report.