Earlier this month, PayPal sent out an update to its acceptable use policy (AUP). It included the shocking addition that it might fine people up to $2,500 if they spread misinformation. Reaction was immediate. Many users dropped their accounts, and PayPal stock dropped significantly. PayPal retreated and said that the notice went out in error. Supposedly, it was never intended to be inserted into their policy and the company apologized for the confusion.
Why talk about this now? The incident occurred weeks ago. One reason is to highlight what happened. Many people (even if they have PayPal accounts) were unaware of the PayPal fiasco. I was teaching college-age students when it occurred. None of them knew about it. Others may not have heard about it because the establishment media treated it as a two-day story and then moved on to other issues.
Another reason to discuss this is to set aside the idea that the PayPal fiasco was an accident. As one blogger noted, no one accidentally publishes a policy where they steal $2,500 when you publish something the company decides is misinformation. Something this important was seen by many eyes. It had to go through layers of attorneys and bureaucracy before it appeared in a final draft form. It must have been approved at the highest levels.
Speaking of highest levels, consider what the former president of PayPal, David Marcus wrote on Twitter: “It’s hard for me to openly criticize a company I used to love and gave so much to. But @PayPal’s new AUP goes against everything I believe in. A private company now gets to decide to take your money if you say something they disagree with. Insanity.”
For the moment, it looks like they won’t fine you, but they will censor you or even ban you if you post something they don’t like.