by Oliver Bateman
Monday, 10
October 2022
Debate
16:00

Dear Elon Musk, can you buy Paypal too?

The free speech absolutist can save this company as well
by Oliver Bateman
Elon Musk’s free speech absolutism may save the company. Credit: Getty

Last week, online payment processor PayPal responded to withering criticism by withdrawing a policy that would have fined users $2,500 for spreading “misinformation”. PayPal, which already had an acceptable use policy prohibiting intolerance, was reacting to criticism from the likes of its former president David Marcus as well as billionaire Elon Musk, who founded one of the companies that eventually became PayPal. 

Both Musk and Marcus took issue with what the latter called the “insanity” of a company taking money off users who “say something they disagree with”. Conservative commentator Candace Owens, meanwhile, chose to seize on this opportunity to promote a financial technology company named GLORIFI. “It will overtake Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase & #Paypal very quickly,” she tweeted

An examination of GLORIFI’s website suggests that such an “overtaking” might be somewhat far off, should it happen at all. GLORIFI, the site’s terms and conditions tell us, is “a financial technology company, not a bank” and its banking services and accompanying debit card were “provided by TransPecos Banks, SSB.” The site also touted forthcoming insurance services, though these were not yet available. To its credit, the site, while cluttered, was relatively easy to navigate and all of the pages opened — no guarantee given the basic technological challenges some of these service providers have failed to overcome. 

If this sounds like faint praise, that is only because products and services endeavouring to do what Candace Owens describes — creating an alternative Right-wing economy — have a poor track record. Services ranging from crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson’s Hatreon creator subscription service to social media platforms such as Gab and Parler have all faltered or failed to some extent. Elon Musk, who now appears to be going forward with his acquisition of Twitter, used a recent Financial Times interview to describe Donald Trump’s Truth Social platform as a “Right-wing echo chamber” that “might as well be called Trumpet.” 

In that same interview, Musk — who refers to himself as a free-speech absolutist — also argued that “it’s important that people have a maximally trusted means of exchanging ideas and that it should be as trusted and transparent as possible.” Whether one likes Musk or not, this claim, as well as his position on the PayPal controversy, does point to a more manageable way forward: working within the confines of the marketplace as it exists, and applying financial leverage to influence the behaviours of its corporate participants. 

Although their long-term effectiveness remains to be seen, several recent examples appear likely to have more long-term impact than the creation of an alternative Right-wing economy or the complete sequestration of Right-wing economic activity on the blockchain. In response to what some have criticised as “woke” investment principles, Texas ordered all of the state’s public entities to divest from BlackRock’s investment funds. Treasury secretaries in Louisiana, Utah, Arkansas, and West Virginia have pulled close to a billion dollars as well, though not their states’ pension funds. Meanwhile, a number of expensive Hollywood productions, saturated in the progressive discourse that online film critic Will Jordan refers to as “the message,” have significantly underperformed at the box office and in the ratings in 2022. 

Is this enough to make a lasting difference in corporate behaviour, or merely a rearguard action against a future in which corporations exercise ever greater power over their own customers? That remains to be seen. Although PayPal noted that its AUP language about promoting misinformation was “never intended to be inserted in our policy” — how did it get there, one wonders? — it did not walk back what appeared to be an extension of the number of “protected groups” that are covered by its current AUP prohibiting intolerance. Even so, PayPal’s hasty retraction serves as a sign that consumer outrage can drive corporate compliance in ways that a shadow economy consisting of GLORIFI, MyPillow, Black Rifle Coffee Company, RedCon1, and other Right-wing oriented companies simply cannot.

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Aaron James
Aaron James
1 month ago

What a agenda article.

” a sign that consumer outrage can drive corporate compliance in ways that a shadow economy consisting of GLORIFI, MyPillow, Black Rifle Coffee Company, RedCon1, and other Right-wing oriented companies simply cannot. ”

So 3 days ago Dr McCullough was lifetime banned from Twitter, even though every single post on it is backed by recognized sources linked. Google on Youtube – anything to do with Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, Vaccine Injuries, Toxic Spike, 2020 voter fraud and any other scandalous issue and virtually ALL is ‘Reverse Fact Checked’ (fackchecker is completely misinforming by saying what is true is misinformation) Or – is just not appearing, is Banned and Canceled, or buried at the 1000th listing.

NEVER, even in Stalinist Russian has the truth been more deleted, systematically stamped out and warped, and the Lie more promoted by the Propaganda machine of – Government (now operating their own Political Secret Police) MSM, and Social Media. Thank God we have the new Samizdat of ‘Getter’ (the twitter killer) and ‘Rumble’ the uncensored youtube format, Substack, and many others – or it would be 1984 and truth be completely banished.

This writer either knows nothing, or more likely is part of the great agenda the why he is so totally wrong about the reality on the ground.

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
1 month ago

Bravo! This is a much-needed excoriation of the unbelievable and hubristic idiocy of PayPal. These new “woke” robber barons are driving their pathetic ideologies down the throats of their customers as if their were no other way of thinking, and as if there will be no day of reckoning for their totalitarian smugness.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago
Reply to  Gerald Arcuri

I could not manage to even get on ‘ paypal’ let alone make whatever it is, work!

Christoban Rodriguez
Christoban Rodriguez
1 month ago

Paypal is easy to sign up for and they have a hundred million users. They’re integrated with virtually every web site these days.
Also, they reverted the 2,500 fine and said it was never intended to be put out there. Sounds like some woke employees activated it without permission, or the backlash was huuuge.

Steve Brooks
Steve Brooks
1 month ago

Cancel Paypal. They just got caught.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 month ago

A company does not have to be a serious competitor of Facebook or PayPal or YouTube to be successful. All it has to do is offer a service and make a profit. Gab, Parler, Rumble, Give Send Go, Quillette, Substack, Unherd are all doing fine. As long as there is somewhere for alternative views to be aired then there is hope.

Last edited 1 month ago by Gunner Myrtle
John Doetiz
John Doetiz
1 month ago

Parler did not fail, it was growing nicely when it was deplatformed by the woke tech fascists like Paypal. Paypal account canceled.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 month ago

It’s time for legislation to make Section 230 platforms with more than 1 million users common carriers. The phone company can’t cancel you for your politics. Big tech shouldn’t be able to either.

Private companies depriving you of property for political reasons, without due process, should be illegal, with summary judgment for tripple damages mandatory .

Anti-trust law has to be changed so that what happened to Parler, where Amazon Web Services canceled Parler’s servers with 3 days notice, then signed a long term contract with Twitter, is illegal. It should be an obvious course of private lawsuit by Parler with punitive damages for conspiracy in restraint of trade. The law should also allow an emergency injunction against the termination of service until replacement service can be arranged.

All of these changes will require a Republican Congress and president.