PayPal has cancelled two accounts associated with a right-wing hate group, and three associated with anti-fascist groups.
On Friday, the digital payment company cut ties with the violent ultranationalist group the Proud Boys, and their founder Gavin McInnes. PayPal also cancelled accounts belonging to three anti-fascist organizations: Atlanta Antifa, Antifa Sacramento, and the Anti-Fascist Network. The cancellations, first reported by BuzzFeed’s Blake Montgomery, are the latest casualties in a campaign by far-left and far-right groups to deplatform their opponents.
Proud Boys and anti-fascists often clash with each other online, and in the streets, most recently leading to arrest warrants for nine Proud Boys and three anti-fascists in New York City. But a statement by PayPal described both groups in the same terms.
“Striking the necessary balance between upholding free expression and open dialogue and protecting principles of tolerance, diversity and respect for all people is a challenge that many companies are grappling with today,” the company told The Daily Beast. “We work hard to achieve the right balance and to ensure that our decisions are values-driven and not political. We carefully review accounts and take action as appropriate. We do not allow PayPal services to be used to promote hate, violence, or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory.”
PayPal added that it has previously cancelled accounts for Antifa Philadelphia, Antifa Arkansas, Belfast Antifa, and Rose City Antifa.
A spokesperson could not comment on how the groups had violated the terms. One group banned Friday, Atlanta Antifa, disputed the bans as “ridiculous false equivalence. This is where liberal ‘both sides’ discourse leads.”
“Our track record has been one of monitoring & protesting the far-Right. Proud Boys engage in indiscriminate beat-downs against anyone who they perceive as leftist or enemy of some other sort,” Atlanta Antifa told The Daily Beast via Twitter direct message.
A lawyer for the Proud Boys called PayPal’s action part of a trend of deplatforming conservatives.
“While the 1st Amendment protects us from government censorship, the major conglomerates controlling big tech do not believe in the values upon which our country was founded,” Jason Lee Van Dyke said. “While we consider legal action for tortious interference with our contracts, we call upon President Trump and Congress to fully investigate and put a stop to these cowardly tactics by the political left.”
PayPal and other payment processors have also recently stopped working with the extremist-friendly social media site Gab, and anti-Muslim speaker Tommy Robinson.