Paypal censors Free Speech Union
I interviewed Toby Young about this ironic and shocking case of censorship.
Paypal has closed the accounts of the Free Speech Union, the Daily Sceptic and founder Toby Young’s personal account. Since all three accounts were shut at once and Paypal won’t specify exactly why it has taken this action, it would appear to be a blatant case of censorship.
This is Big Tech bowdlerisation and banditry as Paypal is also withholding Toby’s funds (which it has the right to do) while it decides whether to apply damages. Make no mistake: this is a chilling insight into a world of social credit scores and programmable currencies, where your money can be turned off at the flick of a switch if you don’t behave.
It does not bode well that the Bank of England is consulting with Paypal, among others, about how to develop a CBDC.
I talked to Toby about this shocking development and the sheer irony of deplatforming the Free Speech Union.
If this situation had been described to me a couple of decades ago, I wouldn't have believed it could happen in Britain. And just a very short time ago, this would be an unthinkable situation. Was there a point when you saw this coming, for you?
I have to admit, I was shocked. I’ve heard of other websites and individuals being deplatformed by PayPal, but the Daily Sceptic is, I thought, a lot more mainstream than them, and even if the Daily Sceptic is judged to have fallen foul of PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy, why close the Free Speech Union’s account and my personal account as well? It does feel like a step change in the establishment of a Chinese-style social credit system in the UK.
How do you feel about it?
I’m really angry about it. How dare they? I’ve had my personal account for nine years and never heard a peep about violating its policies before now. I’ve been paying the 1.5% commission on all transactions without complaint. Where does it get the nerve? To just pull the rug out from under me, with no notice, just accused, tried and convicted all at once, with no possibility of parole. Thank God PayPal isn’t running the criminal justice system!
What are the implications for your organisations and for you personally?
I only used my personal account three or four times a year, although it has more than £600 sitting in it and I can’t get that out. PayPal reserves the right to hold on to the funds for 180 days in case it wants to extract “damages” for violating its Acceptable Use Policy. But the cancellation of the Daily Sceptic and FSU accounts is really serious. About a quarter of the Daily Sceptic’s donors were using PayPal and about a third of the FSU’s 9,500 members are using PayPal to process their recurring membership dues.
Is this an existential threat to what you are doing?
No, we’ll survive. In fact, I think we’ll come back stronger. And the FSU is going to try to get the law changed so PayPal and other financial services companies can’t deplatform other people for expressing political views they disapprove of. I feel like saying to PayPal, “You messed with the wrong guy.”
How will you mitigate the threat?
We’ve had to contact all supporters of the Daily Sceptic and the FSU using PayPal and tell them to switch to a different payment processor. But, inevitably, some of them won’t open the email, some will assume it’s a phishing scam and some just won’t bother to switch. We’ll undoubtedly lose a lot of revenue as a consequence.
What legal action can you take? What are Paypal's contractual obligations to you?
I’m currently looking into that. More soon. But whatever happens, we’ll make a complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority.
What sort of company are you in? Who else has this happened to?
It’s happened to Us4Them, the lobby group set up by three mums to try to get schools reopened during the lockdown. The UK Medical Freedom Alliance and the Expose – both have raised reservations about the mRNA vaccines, so that’s probably the reason they’ve been deplatformed – and, in the US, Colin Wright, a gender critical evolutionary biologist, and a couple of left-wing sites that oppose the war in Ukraine, Consortium News and Mint Press. But I’m sure there are many others. In February, PayPal anncounced it had closed 4.5 million accounts.
Has anyone else successfully reversed a decision like this?
Not that I’m aware of.
If Paypal haven’t given you a reason, why do you think this has happened? Daily Sceptic and FSU have been running a while, so why now?
No clue with regard to my personal account or the FSU account. But on Monday I got a message on my Daily Sceptic PayPal account from someone in ‘Executive Escalations’ saying my ‘complaint’ about being shut down had not been accepted. He didn’t say what I’d done wrong, but included this sentence, implying this was the rule I’d broken: “PayPal’s policy is not to allow our services to be used for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance.”
I’ve no clue what that’s a reference to. Then, on Wednesday evening, the Times contacted me for a comment after PayPal told them it had shut down the Daily Sceptic account because it spreads “Covid misinformation”.
So PayPal really can’t make up its mind as to what the Daily Sceptic has done wrong. I suspect it’s because it often publishes sceptical pieces about the five sacred nostrums you’re not allowed to dissent from: the view that sex, like gender, is a social construct and therefore not binary and immutable; that the lockdown policy and associated Covid restrictions were a prudent response to the pandemic; the mRNA vaccines are safe and efficacious; we’re in the midst of a ‘climate emergency’ and the only solution is to achieve ‘net zero’ by 2050 (preferably earlier); and the West should continue to supply arms and aid to Ukraine. Anyone challenging those holy precepts is at risk of being cancelled, although demonetising an organisation that simply defends people’s right to challenge those shibboleths is a new low.
This is an ironic turn of events. Personally this makes me feel more committed to supporting the FSU and Daily Sceptic. Do you think this can be turned to your advantage?
Yes, I hope so, but that remains to be seen. We’re still in damage control mode at the moment.
Are you aware of any other attempts to interfere with the reach or success of Daily Sceptic or FSU? Can you elaborate? If so, who might be behind it?
The Daily Sceptic Facebook account has been suspended a few times and if anyone tries to follow it they get a health warning. The Daily Sceptic also gets fact checked two or three times a week, increasingly by climate change activist websites. They’re usually laughable – if they disagree with our interpretation of certain facts, or just our opinion on what those facts mean, they label the post “misleading” or “false”, as if they are the sole custodians of the truth. The trouble is, Facebook and other social media platforms farm out a lot of their content moderation to these ‘fact checkers’.
If you’ve had enough of censorship, deplatforming and the erosion of liberty you could:
Follow The Daily Sceptic and while you are there make a donation to support their articles.
Become a member of the Free Speech Union.
Complain to Paypal about this transparently political act of censorship.
Write to your MP if you have concerns about censorship, deplatforming and the financial punishment of these websites. As the Bank of England and Treasury investigate the development of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) it’s vital that people’s financial security is protected. Not only do individuals and businesses need protection now from companies like Paypal, but they will need it even more so in an increasingly cashless society. It does not bode well that the Bank of England is consulting with Paypal, among others, about how to develop a CBDC.
Share the #BoycotPaypal hashtag on Twitter.
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This happened to me three weeks ago, Laura. I documented it in the updates section of my last post:
I called their customer service number and was told the "Brand Risk" Department would email me an explanation within 24 hours. It's been three weeks, and I've received nothing.
Our Orthodox Christian parish PayPal account was suddenly closed down some 18 months ago. The reason given was that there had been an allegation of fraud. When we requested details they cut off communication. Our Parish is part of the Patriarchate of Antioch, based in Damascus. We know that we are watched by the Foreign Office as there is a ban on giving any monetary support to our Patriarchate...