PayPal retracted a policy update Monday that allowed it to fine users up to $2,500 each time they spread “misinformation.” But the company’s purported “error” won’t soon be forgotten on the right.
Big Tech is increasingly acting like an online government, and conservatives are rising up in protest.
Former PayPal president David Marcus led backlash to PayPal’s retracted policy statement over the weekend after it was first reported on by The Daily Wire: “A private company now gets to decide to take your money if you say something they disagree with. Insanity,” Marcus tweeted — to which tech billionaire Elon Musk, an early PayPal investor, replied, “Agreed.”
Why it’s political: Almost 90% of PayPal employees’ contributions to congressional candidates in the 2022 midterm elections went to Democrats, according to data from Open Secrets, a nonprofit resource run by the Center for Responsive Politics.
- PayPal is hardly an outlier among major tech companies, where an overwhelming preference for Democrats is the norm, per the database.
- The company has previously proved willing to crack down on conservative speech, from purging groups critical of transgender rights activism last month to partnering with the Southern Poverty Law Center to target “hate speech” in 2019.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., spoke Saturday for many conservatives who see Big Tech as trying to govern the internet according to liberal politics.
- “Allowing private companies to become thought police would be egregious and illegal overreach,” Scott tweeted. “My office will be looking into the validity of PayPal’s new policy and taking any necessary action to stop this type of corporate activism.”
HOW WE GOT HERE
PayPal’s proposed fines for “misinformation” added to a long list of reasons for conservatives to be paranoid about Big Tech overreach.
- Over the weekend, Twitter briefly suspended the account of Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo after he shared research suggesting that the risks of COVID-19 vaccines may outweigh their benefits for men ages 18-39.
- In May, the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the White House and federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the FBI, accusing them of colluding with Facebook to suppress dissenting opinions about COVID-19 treatments and vaccines in the name of combatting misinformation.
- In the final days of the 2020 election, FBI agents, two of whom were also Democratic donors, pressured Facebook to block users from sharing news about a laptop owned by President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, that was deemed “misinformation” by CIA analysts but was later confirmed to be true.
- In February, online fundraising platform GoFundMe threatened to confiscate around $9 million donated to the Freedom Convoy, a protest movement started by Canadian truckers to demand the lifting of COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The company later reversed course amid a public outcry.