PayPal's former leadership, known as the "PayPal Mafia," have slammed the payments giant for its debanking policies of late, with one co-founder calling the freezing of funds “totalitarian,” while another compared it to an episode of Black Mirror.
Despite becoming crypto-friendly in recent years, the payments tech giant has caught a lot of headlines and pushback over its de-platforming practices, which reportedly involve a rather abrupt process of freezing funds, fines and frosty negotiations to unlock the accounts of its users for varying reasons.
Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal in 1998 and served as its CEO until 2002, suggested to The Free Press on Dec. 14 that the company’s vision has significantly shifted away from its initial goal of giving global citizens greater control over their money.
“If the online forms of your money are frozen, that’s like destroying people economically, limiting their ability to exercise their political voice,” Thiel noted, adding that:
“There’s something about destroying people economically that seems like a far more totalitarian thing.”
Thiel is colloquially referred to as the “don” of the famous “PayPal Mafia,” a group of founders and former employees — such as Elon Musk — that have since gone on to found or work at other major tech companies.
Fellow PayPal Mafia member and the firm’s first chief operating officer, David Sacks, has also spoken out against PayPal’s deplatforming practices in recent years as well.
In talking with The Free Press, Sacks argued that under the leadership of current CEO Dan Schulman, PayPal is trying to cash in on the woke culture movement by banning people with opposing views.
“The CEO [Schulman] has got like every woke award you can win,” Sacks said, adding:
“It’s a symbiotic relationship — he implements their agenda, and, in exchange, they give him awards, and that furthers advancement up the corporate totem pole of woke capitalism.”
To list just some of PayPal’s notable deplatformings, it has shut down the accounts tied to the censorship-free focused Freedom Phone startup; news website Consortium News; the Free Speech Union; and lockdown sceptic blog The Daily Sceptic. All of these outletscould be deemed as leaning right politically, or at least as holding alternative views.
Responding to the article, Musk, the now-CEO of Twitter and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, said that the platform has become likan episode of Black Mirror — a British television series that usually presents some form of dystopian future where people are controlled by technology.
Given the threat of deplatforming for some, crypto proponents have of course pushed the “Bitcoin fixes this” narrative due to the network’s decentralization and censorship resistance.
Related: What are crypto payment gateways and how do they work?
In October, PayPal also controversially introduced $2,500 fines for users who “promote misinformation” or spread material that presents risks to “user safety and wellbeing,” both of which were defined in ambiguous terms.
The move was met with intense backlash from the community and big figures alike, including PayPal Mafia members such as Musk and former PayPal president David Marcus. On Oct. 11, PayPal then promptly walked back that policy, attributingit to an internal error.
However, some skeptics believe the policy has been quietly snuck back into the company's user agreement and acceptable use policy.