Update, a Paypal spokesperson told Teslarati in an email:
“An AUP notice recently went out in error that included incorrect information. PayPal is not fining people for misinformation and this language was never intended to be inserted in our policy. Our teams are working to correct our policy pages. We’re sorry for the confusion this has caused.”
Note, at the time of this writing, PayPal’s AUP page still reflects the $2,500 fine as seen in the screenshot below. We’ll keep checking the user agreement page and update you when the language is removed.
Elon Musk, who co-founded what is now known as PayPal, agreed with PayPal’s former president, David Marcus, on the company’s drastic new move. Marcus said that PayPal’s new AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) goes against everything he believes in.
“A private company now gets to decide to take your money if they say something you disagree with. Insanity.”
A new policy will allow PayPal to fine users $2,500 for “misinformation,” according to a report from The Daily Wire. This “misinformation” isn’t defined, and the new policy takes effect on November 3. The changes will be added to the company’s restricted activity section of its user agreement.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 8, 2022
The policy changes include prohibitions on “the sending, posting, or publication of any messages, content, or materials” that “promote misinformation.”The Daily Wire noted that deliberations will be made at the “sole discretion” of PayPal and could fine users $2,500 “debited directly from your PayPal account” per offense.
“If you are a seller and receive funds for transactions that violate the Acceptable Use Policy, then in addition to being subject to the above actions, you will be liable to PayPal for the amount of PayPal’s damages caused by your violation of the Acceptable Use Policy.’
“You acknowledge and agree that $2,500.00 U.S. dollars per violation of the Acceptable Use Policy is presently a reasonable minimum estimate of PayPal’s actual damages…”
Elon Musk also commented, “💯,” on a post from Andrea Stroppa sharing an article about PayPal’s drastic move. Stroppa said, “Worrying. That’s why we need the X platform more than ever.”
Elon Musk was one of the co-founders of X.com, which merged with Confinity in 2000 to become PayPal. In 2002, eBay purchased PayPal for $1.5 billion. In 2017, Elon Musk bought X.com back from PayPal. At that time, Elon Musk didn’t have any plans for the website but recently said he wants to create X the everything app.
Aaron Terr, a senior program officer at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression told The Daily Wire that PayPal has the ability to do this under existing law. “Under existing law, PayPal has the ability as a private company to implement this type of viewpoint-discriminatory policy,” said Terr.
“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.”
The Daily Wire said it reached out to PayPal for a comment, but the financial services company hasn’t responded yet. Teslarati also reached out to PayPal for a comment. We’ll update you if we get one.
I understand the need to protect minority groups and their viewpoints. However, PayPal doesn’t define what “misinformation” is. And anyone employed by the company could simply disagree with you and fine you $2,500. Perhaps some businesses may survive that, but for many individuals who use PayPal, this could overdraft their accounts. It will also hurt small businesses.
Hate speech isn’t good, and neither is using free speech to bring harm and spread misinformation. But, again, PayPal chooses the definition of misinformation and doesn’t disclose what it thinks is misinformation–at least for now. And if they disagree with you, they could say, “Oh hey, Johnna is spreading misinformation. Let’s take $2,500 from her.”
And just a side note, many sellers start out as individuals. As an artist, I used PayPal before I started my LLC.
I find this incredibly disturbing as someone who has a small business and uses PayPal regularly. Elon Musk, David Marcus, and Andrea Stroppa are right to find this alarming.
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