PayPal has decided to deplatform the account of UsForThem, a British parents’ group that advocated for keeping schools in the United Kingdom open during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In an interview with the Telegraph, UsForThem said it has been unable to access thousands of pounds in donations from its account after PayPal said it discontinued service to one of the group’s directors for allegedly violating the company’s user agreement. But according to UsForThem co-founder Molly Kingsley, PayPal has not provided the group with a clear explanation for the closure of the account.
“We were completely taken aback to learn that PayPal was discontinuing our services ‘due to the nature of [our] activities.’ No prior warning or meaningful explanation was given, and despite them saying we could withdraw our remaining balance, we cannot,” she said.
“UsForThem has only ever been fully transparent about the organization’s aims, and our mission statement is on a prominent page of our website for all to read,” said Kingsley. “That makes clear that our core focus is campaigning for children to be prioritized in public decision making.” (Related: Scientists denounce flawed study pushing for the return of school mask mandates.)
Kingsley added that if something about UsForThem’s goals bothers or offends PayPal, then the least the corporation could do is be transparent about it. As a volunteer-led organization, the impact of PayPal’s deplatforming is considerable since UsForThem relies on recurring donations to maintain itself.
A spokesperson for PayPal said the company’s actions were not discriminatory and that it does not take decisions regarding shutting down accounts lightly. He claimed that the company has more than 400 million customers with different beliefs and ideological leanings.
The spokesperson then pointed to the company’s acceptable use policy and hinted that UsForThem likely violated the company’s rules on “spreading misinformation about the COVID vaccine,” as well as the policy on “hate speech.”
But Iain Mansfield, director of research at Policy Exchange, believes PayPal’s actions constitute suppression of speech.
“This is a company taking deliberate action to silence and suppress lawful political groups with whom they disagree,” said Mansfield. He urged the British government to amend the Online Safety Bill “to protect individuals’ and organizations’ access to basic digital infrastructure, rather than giving companies more power to act as censors.”
Danny Kruger, a lawmaker with the British Conservative Party, raised the deplatforming of UsForThem during a speech in parliament.
“As we move toward a cashless economy, these companies form part of the central infrastructure of ordinary life,” said Kruger. “Will the government take steps to ensure that they cannot discriminate against individuals or organizations on the basis of perfectly legal legitimate views?”
Kruger isn’t the only politician supporting taking away the ability of tech giants to suppress speech through deplatforming. Joanna Cherry, a parliamentarian with the Scottish National Party and a King’s Counsel, also made a speech in parliament. Cherry criticized the deplatforming of the Free Speech Union and its founder Toby Young over transgender critical beliefs.
“In so far as PayPal provides goods and services in the U.K., it should be subject to our anti-discrimination laws,” said Cherry. “If as alleged, this action was prompted by complaints about the Free Speech Union’s support for gender critical views, then it is discriminatory.”
Learn more about the suspicious activities of tech companies like PayPal at Technocrats.news.
UsForThem is not the only victim of PayPal’s deplatforming. Watch this episode of “Zolna Report” as Gabe Zolna talks about how the company shut down the accounts linked to Brighteon Stores.
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