PayPal getting into the censorship business


Well-known member
FYI if you use PayPal to let members buy account upgrades:
A new policy update from PayPal will permit the firm to sanction users who advance purported “misinformation” or present risks to user “wellbeing.”

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.”

Shouldn't be a problem for most folk, but their terms are vague and subjective, so they basically reserve the right to fine anyone for almost anything.
The part about "promote misinformation" and "present a risk to user safety or wellbeing" are a bit too vague. Is arguing in favour of an unpopular political position "promoting misinformation"? At what point does discussion cross that line? The fact that they basically require no evidence to support their action (since this isn't a criminal proceeding, just their rules) makes it really too broad. So, yeah, I'm with you there.

I am less concerned about "the promotion of hate ..." since that's the clause that will let them nail places like Kiwifarms. I have a similar rule on my board so it's not like I am likely to run afoul of it. Not a believer in absolute freedom of speech myself. There need to be limits at times, even if I prefer to keep those limits minimal. If someone wants to argue that COVID started in a Wuhan lab, I'll let them but counter with the evidence against (and make sure that it stays confined to one thread on that subject). If they go beyond that conspiracy theory to slander Chinese people as a group, I'll ban their ass back to the Stone Age.

I don't rely much on Paypal for my site in the end. We don't do paid upgrades or any kind of sales. I use my personal PP for things like paying the XF maintenance on occasion but there's nothing to even tie that to the board, really.
This is a slippery slope. Basically using super vague terms so they can strike down on whatever they feel like. Paypal the latest company in the US going the left route and getting way too political.
Good thing we have Stripe.
It sounds like a good thing to me overall, but like all tools there's definitely potential for abuse, and it's hard to trust PayPal. PayPal has always been kind of strict (like banning artists for selling an NSFW artwork) and is known for suddenly cutting people off with little in the way of customer service available to remedy complaints. Just like any third party service your site depends on, it's probably best to have a backup plan for if you run into issues with it, or secondary options that coexist with it (e.g. also accept stripe, etc). This way you minimize exposure to disruption. We want these payment processors to compete over our business.
I love this.. you have comments about how PayPal is going down the "left route", but then you have another comment about how they are banning artists for NSFW artwork (which if they were "left" they would allow typically as "everyone" knows the 'left' has no morals :rolleyes:).
There is one constant in this world... no business can please everyone.
Paypal has a very long track record of seizing money from customers for trivial reasons. I must say that it has become a little better over the years. As now its possible to resolve PayPal issues, while in the past they just froze your account without any way to resolve it. Their support system seemed designed to get rid of you.

You can find endless stories of people and companies who got their accounts frozen. For the most crazy reasons. You dont even have to do anything wrong. Here is a recent one:
Seems like a good thing to me. I’m all for discouraging conspiracy theory presented as fact or hate speech justified as Something that should be OK purely because there is some kindled of amendment that gets misinterpreted.

I guess they are just trying to make the internet a safer place, I doubt though it will please everyone.
Wondering if this is in response to an issue a few months ago of people selling holistic medicines as 'cures/prevention' for Covid?
It wasn't in error, it was just to see how bad the upset was - likely this will become policy in the new year quietly.
Will the PayPal TOS last updated a year ago do?

Violation 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) as outlined in the User Agreement (see “Restricted Activities and Holds” section of the PayPal User Agreement).

Prohibited Activities​

You may not use the PayPal service for activities that:
  1. violate any law, statute, ordinance or regulation.
  2. relate to transactions involving (a) narcotics, steroids, certain controlled substances or other products that present a risk to consumer safety, (b) drug paraphernalia, (c) cigarettes, (d) items that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity, (e) stolen goods including digital and virtual goods, (f) the promotion of hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory or the financial exploitation of a crime, (g) items that are considered obscene, (h) items that infringe or violate any copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy or any other proprietary right under the laws of any jurisdiction, (i) certain sexually oriented materials or services, (j) ammunition, firearms, or certain firearm parts or accessories, or (k) certain weapons or knives regulated under applicable law.

(Emphasis mine)

Combine this with the Restricted Holds policy documentation - - and, well, things you must not do includes "Provide false, inaccurate or misleading information;" and actions they can take are in, well, their sole discretion.

The policy you're arguing about is... somewhat already in force, just not so heavily enforced, and it seems fairly clear to me that they were always going to do it - the only 'error' is that people are upset about it.
One might argue that fraud prevention and preventing circulation of misinformation are both facets of a larger problem. Especially when considering how much of a law unto itself PayPal has been.

Given how much enthusiasm there is for “policing misinformation” it doesn’t seem wild to me that PayPal would get in on it, irrespective of what its cofounder prophet might have to say.
Posted "in error" once their stocks plummeted because of them getting caught with their pants down.
Paypal is a payment processor. Stick to that.
Last edited:
Top Bottom