FILE – March 10, 2015, file photo, shows signage outside PayPal headquarters in San Jose, California.
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
Paypal is under fire from religious groups and conservatives after the CEO recently revealed that it is working with the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to help identify accounts for a prohibition of the payment platform.
The groups are calling for a boycott of the digital payment system because it is there, in collaboration with a group of a list of a number of conservative Christian organizations as “hate groups” or “extremists” because of their religious beliefs.
SPLC targeted conservative groups, such as the Family Research Council and Alliance Defense of Freedom, but also more recently went after Maajid Nawaz, a liberal who was a former Islamic radicals. The SPLC labeled him and others “anti-Muslim extremists”, but later apologized and paid him $3.375 million for the settlement of a lawsuit. Columnist Marc Thiessen said the SPLC “has become a caricature of itself, the labeling of virtually everyone that does not fall in line with the leftist ideology of an ‘extremist’ or ‘hate group.'”
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PayPal CEO Dan Schulman told The Wall Street Journal it makes use of SSPS as part of its mission in the direction of “diversity and inclusion.”
“Our mission is to democratize financial access for all citizens, so that the management and the moving of money is a right for everyone, not a privilege for the affluent,” he said.
But conservative groups wonder if it works with the SPLC means that the platform will begin with the banning of the Christians.
“PayPal is based on the radical leftist Southern Poverty Law Center to decide on prohibition in their platform. #BoycottPayPal,” tweeted Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT! for America, a group that is against radical Islam and is considered a hate group by the SPLC.
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In 2010, SPLC placed the Family Research Council (FRC) — a conservative Christian advocacy group that opposes abortion and gay marriage — on the “hate map.” Two years later, a gunman walked into the FRC headquarters, with the intention to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces.” He told the FBI that he had used the SPLC website to pick its target.
The FBI removed the SPLC from its list of legitimate sources on hate crimes, but other groups do not.
Schulman said their “brand reputation of the group” monitoring and enforcement of the bans with the help of outside groups that are in line with their values.
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“There are those both on the right and left side to help us. Southern Poverty Law Center has brought, things,” Shulman said. “We don’t always agree. We have our discussions with them. We are very respectful with everyone. We do the research carefully. We talk when we disagree with the observation: We understand why you think that way, but it’s still in the realm of the freedom of speech for us.”
He admits that “hate speech” is subjective.
“Where do we draw a line around hate?” Schulman said. “Because the line between free speech and hate, no one teaches it to you in college. No one is defined in the law.”
PayPal has blocked Infowars host Alex Jones to “hate speech and discriminatory intolerance,” and the online platform, Gab, after it was revealed that the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre posted anti-Semitic comments about the messaging platform.
PayPal defended itself by saying it has the right to a user’s account “for any reason and at any time” under the user agreement.
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The movement has many conservatives and Christians are afraid, especially because the payment platform cancelled plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte, North Carolina, after the city pass a transgender bathroom ordinance, a move that would have created an estimated 400 jobs and $3.6 million investment in the city.
The left-leaning group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, who support the freedom of expression and privacy online, hit PayPal as a “de facto internet censorship” that “does not have the expertise to review or speech is the social value or is in conflict with the First Amendment.”