One of the internet’s leading “men’s right activists” is shuttering his website after being banned from Paypal, Amazon, and a number of other tech giants.
The “indefinite hiatus” for Return of Kings, a misogynist website run by pick-up artist Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh, marks another win for liberal activists who have pushed tech companies to kick extremist personalities and groups off their platforms.
Valizadeh, who has spoken at an event hosted by white nationalist leader Richard Spencer and described giving women the right to vote as a mistake, found himself pressed financially after Paypal froze his account on the site in 2017.
Other tech bans soon followed, including a September decision from Amazon that prevented him from selling his pick-up artist books on the site. Ad networks refused to run ads on Return of Kings, further cutting into Valizadeh’s revenue. Even commenting platform Disqus banned Return of Kings from its site, making it harder for Valizadeh’s fans to communicate with each other.
Valizadeh said in a post Monday he was putting Return of Kings on hiatus because its revenues had become “too low” after the bans. Valizadeh claimed that the ensuing cash crunch forced him to lay off an editor who was running the site and drop payment rates for contributors, creating a “negative spiral of declining content and quality” that was destroying the site.
In his goodbye post, Valizadeh predicted that he wouldn’t be the latest right-wing internet figure to fall victim to an activism campaign aimed at a tech company.
“Soon the hammer will come down on anyone who dares to share the truth,” Valizadeh wrote.
Valizadeh didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Valizadeh originally grew to some level of internet fame as a Washington, D.C. dating blogger. But Valizadeh’s anti-women “men’s rights” rhetoric increasingly became a more central part of his persona with the launch of Return of Kings in 2012. Since then, Valizadeh led a series of internet fat-shaming campaigns, called for rapes committed on private property to be legalized, and developed ties with various alt-right figures like Spencer.
In September, Amazon prevented Valizadeh from selling several of his pick-up artist books, including his latest one, which promises tips on “how to break up with a girl in a way that minimizes the chances that she will successfully accuse you of domestic violence or rape.”
“They shut it down, and they won’t tell me why,” Valizadeh said in a YouTube video.
While Valizadeh hasn’t been banned from major social media platforms like YouTube or Twitter, his site’s apparent demise is the latest victory for activists trying to pressure various right-wing extremists off the internet through tech bans.
Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones saw his viewership crater after being banned from YouTube and Facebook, while Reddit has moved to ban or limit the visibility of communities on the site pushing white nationalism or hoaxes.
Targeting financial companies like Paypal has been especially effective for activist groups like Color of Change, which has succeeded in getting several extremist figures cut off from financial companies like Mastercard.
Color of Change, one of the liberal groups leading the push to cut far-right groups off tech companies, said in a statement that it had contacted companies like Paypal prevent people “who propagate hate and violence from using their websites to fund their hateful mission.”