Share prices for PayPal dropped more than 5% on Monday morning after a report from The Daily Wire highlighted the firm’s attempt to fine users $2,500 for spreading “misinformation” through the platform.
The financial services company, which has repeatedly deplatformed organizations and commentators for their political views, had announced a forthcoming update to its acceptable use policy that would have banned the promotion of “misinformation,” as well as “hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory.” Within one day of The Daily Wire reporting on the policy change, PayPal claimed that the new guidelines were published “in error” and apologized “for the confusion this has caused.”
PayPal’s value fell nearly $6 billion as backlash mounted. The company’s stock closed at $90.18 on Friday afternoon and was trading at $85.40 soon after the market opened on Monday — roughly a 5.3% decline as thousands of social media users reacting to The Daily Wire story over the weekend announced that they would cancel their accounts. The Dow Jones Industrial Average remained flat while the technology-heavy Nasdaq fell 0.7% since Friday.
Customers balked as PayPal said users found in violation of the new policy could be liable for “damages,” including the removal of $2,500 “debited directly from your PayPal account” per offense, with cases deliberated at the “sole discretion” of the company. Before posting its initial story, The Daily Wire reached out to PayPal for definitions of the added terms but received no response.
The announcement and reversal occurred days after PayPal canceled three accounts linked to Toby Young, a commentator who runs a British nonprofit called Free Speech Union. The organization has defended clients such as actor and comedian Russell Brand, who recently moved his show from YouTube to Rumble in reaction to censorship from the former platform.
Among the individuals who rebuked PayPal over the policy were a number of lawmakers, commentators, and investors, as well as former PayPal President David Marcus and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. “It’s hard for me to openly criticize a company I used to love and gave so much to,” Marcus said on social media, arguing that the nixed policy update “goes against everything I believe in.”
PayPal has also sanctioned Gays Against Groomers, a group that opposes the sexualization of children, as well as evolutionary biologist Colin Wright. The company featured a rainbow-colored banner on its social media platforms during the month of June affirming that it is “open for all,” and the company’s British subsidiary still sports the banner.
Platforms such as Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook have censored conservatives over their positions on controversial social issues, including transgenderism, vaccination mandates, and homosexuality. GoFundMe seized millions in funds raised for trucker protests in Canada earlier this year, while Google recently began suppressing search results for crisis pregnancy centers.
“Under existing law, PayPal has the ability as a private company to implement this type of viewpoint-discriminatory policy,” Aaron Terr, a senior program officer at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, told The Daily Wire last week. “Whatever motivation PayPal has for establishing these vague new categories of prohibited expression, they will almost certainly have a severe chilling effect on users’ speech. As is often the case with ill-defined and viewpoint-discriminatory speech codes, those with unpopular or minority viewpoints will likely bear the brunt of these restrictions.”
Editor’s Note: The aborted PayPal Acceptable Use Policy was reported Oct. 6 by America’s Frontline News