Aug 10 2017
PAYPAL drops right wing and anti-Islam sites but allows online funding for designated terrorist groups like CAIR
Several prominent members of the so-called alt-right have found themselves at a loss for an online funding platform in recent months…but notorious Islamic jihad supporters like CAIR are not affected.
BuzzFeed (h/t Ann B) Prominent members of the so-called alt-right and other right-wing movements often rely on crowdfunding platforms and online payment processors to fund their causes but lately they’ve been having trouble accessing the money donated by their supporters.
Over the past five months, PayPal has banned or hobbled the accounts of several prominent people and groups that promote far-right politics. Crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe, Patreon, and YouCaring have also cut fundraisers for alt-right–associated causes and people.
To many right-wingers, this fight over online payments is yet another battle in what they perceive as a nationwide war on their protected speech. Now some are attempting to build their own crowdfunding and payment processing platforms that will be sympathetic to their divisive politics.
The trend began earlier this year when PayPal limited the alt-right site Occidental Dissent’s account on May 1. The next day, PayPal limited the account of blogger Roosh V, an artist associated with the men’s rights movement, whose views often align with the alt-right. On May 4, the company banned the alt-right–associated personality Kyle Chapman, known on the internet as Based Stickman. And the alt-right crowdfunded investigations site WeSearchr also found itself on PayPal’s “currently limited” list in early May.
But not everyone involved in the recent payment processor and crowdfunding bans necessarily identifies as a member of the alt-right, but many of them promote ideologies that at least partly align with the movement.
PayPal is restricting accounts outside of the domain of the American alt-right, too. The French anti-immigration group Generation Identity told BuzzFeed News it had to refund €30,000 to its donors after PayPal limited its account on June 14.
And the PayPal account of the anti-Islam site Bare Naked Islam was blocked on April 30.
Does anything on BNI violate the following?
PAYPAL Prohibited Activities
You may not use the PayPal service for activities that:
violate any law, statute, ordinance or regulation.
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 intolerance 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.
relate to transactions that (a) show the personal information of third parties in violation of applicable law, (b) support pyramid or ponzi schemes, matrix programs, other “get rich quick” schemes or certain multi-level marketing programs, (c) are associated with purchases of annuities or lottery contracts, lay-away systems, off-shore banking or transactions to finance or refinance debts funded by a credit card, (d) are for the sale of certain items before the seller has control or possession of the item, (e) are by payment processors to collect payments on behalf of merchants, (f) are associated with the sale of traveler’s cheques or money orders, (h) involve currency exchanges or cheque cashing businesses, (i) involve certain credit repair, debt settlement services, credit transactions or insurance activities, or (k) involve offering or receiving payments for the purpose of bribery or corruption.
involve the sales of products or services identified by government agencies to have a high likelihood of being fraudulent.
“PayPal’s a shittily run company, it’s a bad user experience, and they’ve gone Left over the years. There’s an effort to no-platform us. A lot of us on the Right have had similar experiences with them,” WeSearchr’s founder, Charles Johnson, told BuzzFeed News.
PayPal wouldn’t specify why each account was banned, citing a policy of not commenting on individual accounts. It also wouldn’t specify which accounts it had flat-out banned, and which ones were only limited. But it told BuzzFeed News that it does not “allow [its] services to be used for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance.”
Yet, they have no problem with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Malik Obama, the half-brother of former president Barack Obama, who’s made a name for himself in the alt-right community as a “shitlord” on Twitter, also criticized PayPal for its crackdown on certain alt-right–associated accounts, including his own. He did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Right-wingers have also encountered issues on crowdfunding platforms where they solicit donations, like GoFundMe and Patreon.
In early May, GoFundMe banned Chapman, and in late July it barred alt-right personality (and former BuzzFeed employee) Tim Gionet, aka Baked Alaska, from fundraising. When asked about the dismissals, GoFundMe said, “We don’t tolerate the promotion of hate or intolerance of any kind, and if a campaign violates GoFundMe’s term 7, we’ll remove it from the platform.”
Lauren Southern (below), a right-wing Canadian blogger and YouTuber who works with Generation Identity, said Patreon “essentially eviscerated the majority of my income” when the crowdfunding site banned her earlier this month.
In early July, the crowdfunding site YouCaring rejected a lawyer’s attempt to raise funds for lawsuits she plans to file against Black Lives Matter activists, ostensibly on behalf of police. YouCaring said it was not a platform “for airing grievances or controversial public opinion.” The lawyer was able to set up a GoFundMe page for the suits instead.
“First you get people banned from crowdfunding sites like Patreon,” Mike Cernovich, a pro-Trump media personality, told BuzzFeed News. “After being banned, the person will seek out direct funding via PayPal. Then you get the person no-platformed from PayPal. If the person moves to Stripe or Square, you attack them at that vector as well.
Cernovich warned about “the payment processor risk” on Twitter and called for a “Free Speech alternative to PayPal.” He told BuzzFeed News that Counter Fund, a new site that bills itself as “an ideological crowdfunding platform and self-governing political party,” may solve the new right media’s problems with crowdfunding but that the site will still need its own payment processor.
Here’s one that looks promising: