Another week, another slew of projects banned by major web platforms. Paypal has ejected Bitchute, a Youtube competitor that champions free speech, while Facebook has banned ad campaigns by Bloom that promoted a rival service. The deplatforming of these projects has reinforced the case for censorship-resistant platforms.
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Paypal Bans Another Company Because It Can
It doesn’t take much to merit a perma-ban from one of the internet’s residing oligarchs these days. A few weeks ago, deplatforming, we were assured, was necessary only in the most egregious cases, such as the perennially unrepentant Alex Jones. Today, however, the grounds for ejection from some of the web’s pre-eminent hosting providers, payment systems or social media platforms are wide-ranging. As Bitchute and Bloom have discovered, anything, everything and nothing are all reason enough for a forcible ejection.
“A few hours ago Bitchute received a notice that our Paypal account has been permanently limited, with immediate effect, and that we will no longer be able to accept or send payments,” reported the video streaming service. “The notice included the following information: ‘The User Agreement for Paypal Service states that Paypal, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to limit an account for any violation of the User Agreement, including the Acceptable Use Policy’.”
Breitbart quickly pointed to a number of related examples. “Infowars, Tommy Robinson, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Wikileaks, and 2018 Toronto mayoral election candidate Faith Goldy are also currently, or have previously been, blacklisted by Payal,” it said.
What Constitutes Acceptable Use?
Liberals argue that web companies have no obligation to extend their services to everyone, and if entities have a problem with being banned, they should take their business elsewhere. The reality, however, on a highly centralized internet, is that this is often impossible. Free speech network Gab has been taking its business elsewhere for months, ever since Paypal, as well as web hosts such as Godaddy and Microsoft Azure, suspended it. Trying to find a new home on an internet that has deemed your business undesirable is a tough task.
Ethereum-based social credit network Bloom has also been troubled by censorship recently, in this case instigated by Facebook. The social media giant has banned Bloom’s adverts, ostensibly because they involve financial services. Since Bloom does not sell financial services, however, its team is adamant that its ads were banned due to them competing with the Facebook Login ID service.
“They probably didn’t like that the ads were really pointed and that we ramped up spend after the Facebook hack,” said Bloom co-founder Jesse Leimgruber. “They were directed at ‘take back the data’ in the days after the Facebook hack. I’m sure they were very sensitive to this. I think they just needed a way to justify banning us.”
Making the Case for Censorship-Resistance
The exodus of users from centralized platforms to decentralized alternatives is currently a trickle rather than a torrent. Nevertheless, each instance of deplatforming bolsters the case for sound payment systems, social media networks and web hosting that cannot be shut down without warning or due cause. Social networks like the BCH-powered Memo.cash and Gab encourage free speech while still prohibiting aberrant behavior.
For projects such as Bitchute that have been cut off by Paypal, there is no guarantee that alternative services such as Stripe won’t follow suit. Their only option is to solicit funds through censorship-resistant digital money — namely bitcoin.
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