by Mark Johnson
Wednesday, 21
September 2022
Reaction
17:00

PayPal cancels FSU and The Daily Sceptic accounts

The wave of financial cancellations continues apace
by Mark Johnson
Toby Young’s Free Speech Union has suffered a financial cancellation

It seems that states and corporations are coalescing around the idea that, in order to censor someone, turning off their revenue is the place to start.

This week, PayPal cancelled the accounts of the Free Speech Union as well as the “lockdown sceptic” blog, The Daily Sceptic, both run by journalist and political commentator Toby Young. The financial service did not give notice of the specific violation(s) of their “Acceptable Use Policy” that allegedly caused them to cancel the accounts in question. The fact that all of these accounts were targeted in one fell swoop seems to show that PayPal designated these groups and the people behind them as non grata, because of some unidentified political transgression.

You really don’t need to be a fan of any of these groups to see how risky this flex of digital power is. Regardless of anyone’s views of these organisations, a major corporation like PayPal’s refusal to serve people and organisations associated with certain political causes is deeply concerning and dangerous for all of us who value the right to freedom of expression.

The digitalisation of our speech has resulted in a small number of social media companies holding the keys to the modern public square. This has meant that the digitalisation of our financial transactions results in a number of centralised corporations having control over some of the core means by which we exchange capital. Consequently, a vast amount of power is placed in the hands of those corporations as well as governments who may lean on them to act in a way that is beneficial to state interests. The threat that these powers may exercise the levers of financial censorship to completely cut off and shut up groups, organisations, and people, is real.

This is a tactic on the rise. In 2010, publishers at WikiLeaks found themselves subject to the same treatment by PayPal which, alongside other major corporations, exercised an extra-judicial financial blockade against the organisation. Earlier this year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau froze the bank accounts of Canadian truckers who had protested against state-imposed vaccine mandates in a ruthless attempt to put down the movement. And in the time between, a wave of campaigners and journalists have had the financial rug pulled from under their feet for expressing their entirely lawful, albeit non-conformist, political views. Now, we can add the Daily Sceptic and the FSU to this ever-expanding list.

There is a good reason why some civil liberties campaigners are concerned about the slow march towards a cashless society. There could be no better way to surveil someone than by observing how they spend and receive money. States are already exploring a further centralisation of the financial system through the concept of officially designated central bank digital currencies. We should watch this with caution.

Big Tech executives hope that we won’t push back against their actions. If they chip away at groups and people at the fringes of popular debate, they hope nobody will oppose the political pruning that serves to keep their reputation intact. That’s because there is too little reputational damage caused now for corporate acts of censorship. We ought to remember that our reach for liberty is always curbed at the fringes. To anyone who believes in the right to freedom of speech, it is time to draw a line in the sand and say: no more.

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Miss Me
Miss Me
12 days ago

Who owns Paypal? Its major shareholders are Blackrock and Vanguard.
Of course it is denounced as a ‘conspiracy’ but the fact is that Blackrock and Vanguard have been gobbling up companies at a voracious rate since the mid 70s eradicating competition until they just about own everything and control a great deal more.
It has become increasingly apparent that the world is essentially run by an oligarchy. Certain players of immeasurable wealth wield unprecedented global influence over national governments and supra national organisations such as the WHO. Certain persons are treated as if they are in and of themselves a nation state.
This is why things feels so out of control, so weird, whoever we elect nothing really changes for the better. Lip service is paid to the electorate only on the campaign trail. Once that is done, it’s back to business as usual. It’s a world where things just don’t make much sense and the future looks very dangerous. I think it is time we came out of denial before it is too late.

Last edited 12 days ago by Miss Me
Jim Jam
Jim Jam
12 days ago
Reply to  Miss Me

Terrifyingly correct.

Adam Bacon
Adam Bacon
12 days ago
Reply to  Miss Me

Spot on. It may well have started in the 1970’s, but has gone into overdrive in the last few years.
Understanding this is the only way to make any sense of what’s going on in the world nowadays. The populist backlash of Trump, Brexit et al had to be crushed, and creating fear narratives is the oldest one in the book.

AC Harper
AC Harper
11 days ago
Reply to  Miss Me

The long march through the institutions is on the last lap so more ‘institutions’ must be found to infiltrate. Step forward ‘institutions’ that have a generous revenue stream and can support increasingly bizarre virtue signalling, ‘institutions’ such as some social media and other digital infrastructure businesses.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 days ago
Reply to  Miss Me

But who controls Blackrock and Vanguard?

Miss Me
Miss Me
11 days ago

I’ve no idea who controls them. Strangely Vanguard is the largest shareholder of Blackrock. Larry Fink is the founder and figure head of Blackrock but not the prime decision maker.

Slopmop McTeash
Slopmop McTeash
11 days ago

dyew know what I mean?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 days ago

I’m sure I don’t

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
12 days ago

This is very shocking. The speed at which the foundations of a free society are being dismantled in the West is terrifying. The Free Speech Union! Dan Schulman as CEO of Paypal in 2021 stated “There are plenty of examples of websites whose arguments I disagree with, but it’s not hateful. It’s not promoting violence. You and I might not agree with it, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to accept PayPal or whatever it may be”. Increasingly, figures like Schulman are characterising any disagreement with them as “violence”. They are exactly the same as Putin in that regard. Anyone who uses Paypal is volunteering to have our societies turned into Russia or China.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
11 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Not only should we cease to use PayPal but should lobby companies to refuse to use PayPal as an anti-free-speech organisation but apparently they are in favour of groomers as they have cancelled the account of Gays against Groomers. PayPal are clearly a sinister authoritarian organisation that should be shunned and allowed to wither to serve the woke community alone.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Warning…. Shunning PayPal and advocating for others to exercise their free speech rights might be considered a threat to democracy in today’s America! The IRS might show up at your front door soon.

Michael Kellett
Michael Kellett
11 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I’ve just cancelled my account and written to the chief exec to let him know
[email protected]

Kelly Melrose
Kelly Melrose
3 days ago

Tried to close mine..apparently I have to fone them to do so..so I’ve removed my payment methods and stopped using it

J Bryant
J Bryant
12 days ago

“To anyone who believes in the right to freedom of speech, it is time to draw a line in the sand and say: no more.”
How do we do that? What practical courses of action are open to ordinary people other than voting for a political party that most supports free speech?
On a somewhat related note, I’m surprised Unherd hasn’t covered the UK’s Online Harms Bill that, so far as I know, is still pending in parliament. About a month ago, Lord Sumption gave a chilling summary of the scope of the bill, in its current form, on The Spectator youtube channel. If that legislation passes in its current form I doubt “contrarian” magazines such as Unherd will survive.

Last edited 12 days ago by J Bryant
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
12 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Well I will cancel my PayPal account today. And when a freedom of speech supporting competitor comes about I will use them. In the US there are a growing number of companies offering these types of alternatives – for example Give Send Go – Rumble.

J Bryant
J Bryant
11 days ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Good suggestion. Thanks.

AC Harper
AC Harper
11 days ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I’ve cancelled mine.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

me too.

Tendentious D
Tendentious D
11 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Mine several years ago when they took Rebel News away.

mark.johnsonld1
mark.johnsonld1
11 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Mark (the author) here. I actually help run a campaign against the damage the Online Safety Bill would do to freedom of speech (lots more on the Big Brother Watch website about that) and in defence of Unherd, they have allowed me to write for them on the topic a number of times, including most recently in June. Link here:
https://unherd.com/thepost/health-misinformation-the-latest-addition-to-online-safety-bill/
Cheers for reading!

J Bryant
J Bryant
11 days ago

Thank you for your reply and for jogging my memory about Unherd’s older articles.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
12 days ago

I’m a member of FSU, as a means of making a wee difference through subs and sometimes getting involved in actions, like writing to MPs.

But this makes me feel powerless. Someone mentioned their shareholders, which I checked too. But these anonymous organisations are untouchable.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
11 days ago

As a member of the FSU, I cancelled my PayPal account this morning. I will not do business with woke fascists.

Jim R
Jim R
11 days ago

I don’t think I would have survived the pandemic without the Daily Sceptic. And I’m pretty sure I found Unherd for the first time in their news roundup. This is all very disturbing.

Hilary Wallace
Hilary Wallace
11 days ago

Just finished an indignant email of complaint to PayPay. I am not a big user but said I would take my business elsewhere. If many small users would then they would feel a difference.

What’s next? Maybe my bank will refuse to allow me to make transfers to any organisation that it doesn’t agree with politically. A very slippery slope indeed! I am not a militant person and used to think that my views were moderate (maybe as a fairly conservative person – please note small ´c’) I now hold ‘unacceptable views

Unfortunately my email vanished into the ether as a notice appeared that the complaints page was temporarily unavailable. I can only hope that this means that they are inundated with complaints.

jim peden
jim peden
11 days ago
Reply to  Hilary Wallace

I sent mine in last night and the complaints page was still there then. I don’t know if my complaint was registered though. It did say they’d take up to 15 or so days (IIRC) to get back to me. I’m not holding my breath.

Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
11 days ago
Reply to  Hilary Wallace

I successfully managed to get a message through :
“I am outraged that you have deplatformed the Free Speech Union.

Your insidious use of the power you tech platforms have to control speech is repulsive and I want nothing to do with you.

Have a good day.”

Neil Cheshire
Neil Cheshire
11 days ago

A customer since 2009, I cancelled my PayPal account today citing their interference in free speech and the Free Speech Union in particular. I realise the effect is the equivalent of removing a grain of sand from a very large beach, however if enough people take the same action they may get the message.

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
11 days ago

I used to laugh at Alex Jones as he chanted “Death to the New World Order!” I’m not laughing anymore.

Sarah Owens
Sarah Owens
11 days ago

Paypal has also cancelled the account of UsForThem “due to the nature of [their] activities”. What are these heinous activities? Advocating for children’s welfare to be taken into account: “We believe that children must be placed front and centre in all decisions impacting them. The wellbeing of children should be a guiding principle of public policy making. Children should be given the best start in life.” One can only assume that their challenging of school closures and mandatory masks in classrooms was enough to get them put on the blacklist.

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
11 days ago

Perhaps the Online Harm Bill ought to be amended to prevent PayPal and similar companies from acting as judge, jury and censor.

D Glover
D Glover
11 days ago

In July 2021 the Reform Party had their account closed by Metro Bank. The party’s leader, Richard Tice, was talking about approaching the Bank of England for clearing bank services as a provider of last resort.
You don’t have to be a Reform supporter to find this sinister. Politics will die if parties which are not proscribed by law are closed by banks.
Edit; I’ve just made a donation to the Daily Sceptic. On my bank statement page this doesn’t appear as ‘Daily Sceptic’; it appears as ‘Lockdown sceptics’.
Is that how they describe themselves, or is that how Lloyds bank are describing them?

Last edited 11 days ago by D Glover
Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
11 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

Given the obvious damage caused by lockdown, don’t we all wear the “lockdown sceptics” badge with pride these days ?

Lennie Wafer
Lennie Wafer
11 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

‘Lockdown Sceptics’ changed name to ‘The Daily Sceptic some time ago, so I presume they haven’t done their admin.

D Glover
D Glover
11 days ago
Reply to  Lennie Wafer

OK, thanks. I didn’t know that.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
11 days ago
Reply to  D Glover

It used to be called Lockdown Sceptics.

Ray Mullan
Ray Mullan
12 days ago

And only this morning I was admiring their piece on Bill Gates and ‘global health’.

Miss Me
Miss Me
12 days ago
Reply to  Ray Mullan

No doubt one of the reasons why the guns have been turned on them. Gates is an untouchable – it must be so otherwise such an unbelievably influential figure would be receiving far more scrutiny from the press.

0 0
0 0
11 days ago

Deleting our PayPal accounts might feel like ‘a grain of sand’ action, but if enough of us do it then our small voices become a shout and that is surely better than taking no action at all.
I’ve deleted mine and sent an email of complaint. We must not lose heart and we must stick together. Check out ‘Libertarian Drinks.com’ to get together with other freedom loving people in your area one evening a month – it’s so restorative! Where I live, our group has been growing month on month and it’s a chance to unite with others on the same page.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
11 days ago

The “Us for Them” group (the one that started in England when schools were closed in England) was targeted as well.

John 0
John 0
11 days ago

Stripe is an alternative to PayPal that, to my knowledge, hasn’t engaged in this cancelling.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 days ago

All we need to do is change the definition of democracy and you can justify anything. Anyone who disagrees is a threat to democracy!

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
11 days ago

I’ve never seen the point of Paypal, so I’ve cancelled my unused account, citing their supression of free speech as the reason for closure.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
11 days ago

When I was a kid, I assumed that restrictions on free speech would be imposed top down. Little did I think that it’d be the opposite..

Will Will
Will Will
11 days ago

The British government should take action to ensure our freedom of speech is ensured.

Jane Coomber
Jane Coomber
9 days ago

How come Instagram has hosted a long plug from Just Stop Oil? Free speech????

Gerald Arcuri
Gerald Arcuri
7 days ago

None of the big tech companies ever explain their reasons for cancelling individuals or organizations, because their so-called “Community Guidelines” are risible in the first place and utterly opaque by deliberate policy. When you are cancelled from their sites, you may get a message that instructs you to contact their Community Guidelines department for an explanation, but you can contact them until you are blue in the face – they will never respond. It’s an empty promise, a Potemkin facade to please who knows whom. They have no intention of explaining themselves. Why should they? They are demigods.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
3 days ago

This alliance between state and large, unaccountable corporations is the very definition of fascism.
While most of our compatriots are suffering from ‘frog in boiling water’ syndrome, it is time for those who understand what is going on to act……or be consigned to the dustbin of victims of history.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 days ago

I have no idea what pay pal is…

0 0
0 0
11 days ago

Great you’ve found Unheard, but now it’s time to find out about PayPal !