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PayPal Reinstates Two Anti-Jihad Websites

PayPal Reinstates Two Anti-Jihad Websites

It’s not about anti-Jihad websites, it’s about free speech and internet freedom.

We recently reported how anti-Jihad websites were the subject of attempts to deprive them of funding and internet access as a result of appearing on “hate” lists from the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League.

PayPal cut them off after outreach from ProPublica, as discussed in our post, Charlottesville is being exploited to attack freedom of speech and internet freedom.

This is part of a broader threat to free speech and internet freedom. As documented in my post Gathering Storms And Threats to Liberty, even internet gatekeepers, such as domain registrars, are being pressured to remove “hate” groups from the internet.

The problem, of course, it that “hate” group is a subjective standard, and at least as far as the SPLC and ADL lists are concerned, includes non-violent political opponents of the liberal creators of the lists. For my prior reporting on the SPLC lists, see my post Southern Poverty Law Center “extremist” lists used “to silence speech and speakers”.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sounded the alarm about this trend:

Even for free speech advocates, this situation is deeply fraught with emotional, logistical, and legal twists and turns. All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with. Those on the left face calls to characterize the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group. In the Civil Rights Era cases that formed the basis of today’s protections of freedom of speech, the NAACP’s voice was the one attacked.

Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.

I can now report that two anti-Jihad websites that were cut off by PayPal have been restored, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative.

Spencer writes, Victory: PayPal removes ban on Jihad Watch:

Congratulations, lovers of freedom: your messages to PayPal and your cancellations of your account worked: PayPal has restored the Jihad Watch account….

The Left, seeing a golden opportunity when a Nazi psychopath plowed his car into a crowd of Leftists in Charlottesville, tried to use the moment as its Reichstag Fire, and crush all dissent from the hard-Left line. And there is no doubt that initiative will continue. But in banning Jihad Watch, PayPal overreached, and encountered a crowd of free citizens.

I have no intention of restoring the PayPal buttons on Jihad Watch. I know where they stand now, and do not intend to place myself at their mercy again. But nonetheless, this is a victory. Free people still exist in the United States, and the fascists who call themselves anti-fascists will not prevail.

Geller writes, EXCELSIOR! PAYPAL RESTORES AFDI:

Paypal has restored AFDI’s account. Thank YOU for calling and writing. YOU made the difference. YOU made it happen. These leftists must be exposed and held accountable.

Thousands of retweets, I don’t know how many phone calls and emails – but an hour after I posted the suspension, they reversed themselves. Excelsior!

We will use multiple payment providers so they never have us on the ropes again.

ProPublica and the authors of the ProPublica article about Jihad Watch did not respond to a request for comment.

This “victory” is not about Jihad Watch or AFDI – it’s about the weaponization of internet companies to restrict online freedom under pressure from left-wing groups.

Long before Jihad Watch and AFDI were targeted, groups like Media Matters targeted advertisers for conservative media personalities like Glenn Beck, Fox News, and Rush Limbaugh. Current campaigns are underway to drive advertisers away from Breitbart, Gateway Pundit and Canada’s Rebel Media. Whether offline or online, the goal is the same: to silence opposing voices.

The targeting of anti-Jihad websites is very strategic, as Ben Weingarten writes at PJ Media, Tech Blacklisting of Counterjihadists Is What Muslim Brotherhood Seeks: Sabotage by Our Hands:

When one thinks of the embodiment of “hate,” modern-day jihadists are perhaps without equal….

But when today’s sophist Left thinks of “hate,” it focuses its sights not on jihadists, but on those who forthrightly discuss the jihadist threat, among other advocates of non-leftist views.

That is the sad reality in light of the emerging story of the blacklisting of such individuals and organizations by major technology platforms.

While there may be isolated “victories,” the growing censorship of the internet by tech giants goes on. Aaron Renn writes in The NY Post How Apple and Google are censoring the mobile Web:

Google and Apple, with a combined 98 percent market share in mobile-phone operating systems, have banned Gab, an upstart Twitter competitor with a free-speech policy quaintly modeled on the First Amendment itself, from their app stores. Google cited “hate speech” as its reason for exclusion; Gab doesn’t censor….

It’s difficult to credit Gab as a white-supremacist site when its cofounder is a Turkish Kurd and Muslim. Büyükkaya, who says “I’ve never supported Trump for a minute in my entire life,” is concerned about speech repression in his part of the world — for good reason, as Turkey is infamous for its violations of free speech and for locking up journalists. Gab spokesman Sanduja is a South Asian Hindu from Canada.

The reality is that Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and a handful of other tech giants are so dominant, and so dominated by the left, that there is a de facto chill on speech, but only speech that is hostile to progressive talking points. Can anyone name a group on the far left that has been banned, had its domains shut down, or had its advertisers come under sustained attack? If there are such examples, they are isolated in comparison.

Building alternatives makes sense, but it’s easier said than done. The Washington Post reports:

… the actions are also heightening concerns over how tech companies are becoming the arbiters of free speech in America. And in response, right-wing technologists are building parallel digital services that cater to their own movement.

Gab.ai, a social network for promoting free speech, was founded in August 2016 by Silicon Valley engineers alienated by the region’s liberalism. Other conservatives have founded Infogalactic, a Wikipedia for the alt-right, as well as crowdfunding tools Hatreon and WeSearchr. The latter was used to raise money for James Damore, a white engineer who was fired after criticizing Google’s diversity policy.

“If there needs to be two versions of the Internet so be it,” Gab.ai tweeted Wednesday morning. The company’s spokesman, Utsav Sanduja, later warned of a “revolt” in Silicon Valley against the way tech companies are trying to control the national debate.

“There will be another type of Internet who is run by people politically incorrect, populist, and conservative,” Sanduja said.

The concerns come not only from the right. In addition to the Electronic Frontier Foundation quoted above, Jillian York at Buzzfeed writes of the tech social media giants:

The truth is companies get these decisions wrong a lot of the time. And because they’re not transparent about how their rules are enforced or about how much content is taken down, we only hear about the bad decisions when they make headlines. That is happening increasingly often these days, as those in media circles take more interest in the issue….

I’m not so worried about companies censoring Nazis, but I am worried about the implications it has for everyone else. I’m worried about the unelected bros of Silicon Valley being the judge and jury, and thinking that mere censorship solves the problem. I’m worried that, just like Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince woke up one morning and decided he’d had enough of the Daily Stormer, some other CEO might wake up and do the same for Black Lives Matter or antifa….

At some point there will be a sufficient backlash against Silicon Valley’s stranglehold on and strangling of free speech, to make a difference. But “hopefully” does not offer much protection right now.

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Comments

A legal question, not a statement. The First Amendment generally applies to government entities, not private concerns. An employer can fire an employee for saying writing a review on Yelp critical of the company’s products.

How do firms such as Google, Apple and PayPal fall under the penumbra of the First Amendment. Are they considered public accommodations?

    Milhouse in reply to dystopia. | August 23, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Even if they were public accommodations, they’d still be entitled to refuse a customer because of his speech. That’s their first amendment right. I don’t know where the myth comes from that public accommodations are required deal with all comers. They aren’t; they’re free to discriminate on any ground that isn’t specifically prohibited by law, and political opinion is only prohibited in a few places.

      Freed Serf in reply to Milhouse. | August 23, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Agree totally. Let the free market decide which bakery stays in business.

      Unless, of course, they are asked to bake a cake. That’s in the Constitution somewhere, I’ve heard.

      Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | August 23, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Sigh. No baker, florist, photographer, etc. has ever been sued for refusing customers on the basis of their opinion or speech. There is no question that such discrimination is completely lawful. The cases we know of have all been on the theory that the defendant refused these customers because they were gay, which, in those states or cities, happens to be illegal. The theory is that just as refusing to participate in an interracial marriage is inherently discrimination on the basis of race, so also refusing to participate in a same-sex “marriage” is inherently discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

      I think the premise is wrong too, and certainly the conclusion is wrong. I think that while governments are not allowed to make interracial marriage a crime, service providers who are willing to serve people of all races, but who believe that interracial marriage is wrong, are legally entitled to refuse to participate in such marriages. And I think the same is true for same-sex “marriages”. I have great hopes that the Supreme Court will soon agree, and these cases will all go away.

      But that doesn’t change the fact that this is what those cases are about, not some cockamamie theory that businesses must accept all customers. Discrimination in business remains 100% legal, except in cases where some law makes an explicit exception to this rule, and there are very few places where the law makes such an exception for political opinion.

        Freed Serf in reply to Milhouse. | August 23, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        I get you, Mil. Not against the law – Against the law. A thinking educated public – the great unwashed masses. Apparently, we need some judges to decide which one we are.
        It would be nice if things went the way you reason but I fear there is too strong a need within the country to legislate morality.
        And the game goes on, “Pick a judge, any judge…”

I’m glad our protests to PayPal worked (in this case), but I’m still angry we had to make the protests in the first place.

And as far as the SPLC is concerned, they should be on a “hate group” list themselves. Nothing but a bunch of far-left fascist thugs.

Paypal has been losing its cache with me for a while now, good excuse to dump’em.

@ Milhouse – (non attorney here)

Staples would be required to sell me paper and pen even if I used it to write things they disagreed with. A bakery would be required to sell me a cake even if I were to be celebrating the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, an evil, white, cisgendered slaveowner.

By opening up to the public, and assuming I’m appropriately dressed and mannered, these business entities must provide their service.(As far as I understand.)

The same ought to apply to on line businesses. Twitter should have no more input on what I say than does Bic or Pentel for what a write on a piece of paper.

There isn’t “free speech” in a bakery or Staples because those entities are there to sell products and specific services.

Twitter and Google are platforms for speech. It would be like my Toshiba laptop preventing me from writing; or my Pentel mechanical pencil stop writing because I was advocating something contrary to what the CEO and the board of the respective companies thought was appropriate.

    The Civil Rights act which banned the practice of “Whites Only” being allowed for businesses banned all discrimination for those who deal with the public on the basis of “race, color, religion, or natural origin.”

    The question is whether this list should be viewed expansively, such that discrimination on other grounds should also be suspect, or whether this list should be limiting, meaning that discrimination by a business on any grounds except for these named four is just fine.

      dystopia in reply to Tom Servo. | August 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      For what it is worth the relevant Federal Stature reads:

      42 U.S.C. §2000a (a)All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

      The question is whether the Courts have found that the without clause limits the scope of the predicate clause. Milhouse seems to think it does and he may be right. I don’t know the answer.

        Milhouse in reply to dystopia. | August 23, 2017 at 12:26 pm

        It does, which is why there has never been a federal case for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I’ve never heard of anyone even attempting to bring such a case, presumably because every lawyer who has ever been consulted about bringing one immediately dismissed it, knowing that there is no federal law against it.

        Similarly there has never been such a case in those states and cities without a law against such discrimination. There are many places in the USA where it is perfectly legal to openly discriminate against gay people, and therefore no baker, florist, etc., in such places has ever been sued for allegedly doing so.

    Staples would be required to sell me paper and pen even if I used it to write things they disagreed with.

    No, they wouldn’t. Unless you’re in one of the very few places where there’s a local law requiring them to do so.

    A bakery would be required to sell me a cake even if I were to be celebrating the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, an evil, white, cisgendered slaveowner.

    Again, no, almost everywhere in the USA it wouldn’t.

    By opening up to the public, and assuming I’m appropriately dressed and mannered, these business entities must provide their service.(As far as I understand.)

    You understand incorrectly. There is no such law, anywhere in the USA. Businesses are free to refuse service to anyone they like, on any grounds they like, except for those grounds explicitly prohibited by law.

    There isn’t “free speech” in a bakery or Staples because those entities are there to sell products and specific services.

    Wrong. These entities have the same free speech rights that you do, and cannot be compelled to assist you in expressing opinions they disagree with.

4th armored div | August 23, 2017 at 11:57 am

prob 4 using FB Twitter etc is by signing up, you agree to their rules. u don’t want to adhere to the rules, then they can ‘puniish’ u.

good thing that there r alternatives available.
prob is that b4 reading this post, i didn’t know about them.

@4th Armored div,

There are a lot of alternatives. Brave is a great browser. (Although it still has problems with some WordPress plugins.)

There are free, secure, alternatives to Gmail like protonmail.

DuckDuckGo isn’t as good. Yet. Make it your default and switch to Google as needed. But keep using it and it will improve.

“This “victory” is not about Jihad Watch or AFDI – it’s about the weaponization of internet companies to restrict online freedom under pressure from left-wing groups.”

Which is exactly what the leftists in Obama’s executive did with the IRS and the denial of all those c3 and c4 applications from the Tea Party groups.

Geller and Spencer are themselves powerful or have powerful friends. It’s the little guy who can be no-platformed off of his business due to arbitrary reasons.

good thing that there r alternatives available.
prob is that b4 reading this post, i didn’t know about them.

As someone who has at various points run a hosting company, a domain registrar, and assorted other Internet services out of his 2-bedroom apartment, I find this whole “GoogBookTer == t3h Internet” as silly as “World Wide Web == t3h Internet” was in 2001.

That so few people understand how the Internet works and how to operate on it effectively without being beholden to a single vendor is a problem, but it’s an education problem, not a legal one. I have been advising people since 1999 to get their own domain and their own email addresses independent of the ones free from their ISP in case they want to switch ISPs some day or the ISP goes out of business. The same rubric applies here.

I would argue that Jillian York isn’t concerned. She doesn’t object to the principle, only that it may be applied to people or institutions she favors.

I might have read this here but there was a cloud based computer backup service that advertised on Rush Limbaugh that stop advertising with him when pressured by these left hate groups. Needless to say the companies business was hammered and the tried to get back with Rush. He told them it wasn’t happening.

PayPal has been hacked too often – do a search.
A cyber-security expert would probably advise not using it.

This will only further anti-Jewish conspiracies. “Oh, so the Jews on right get their websites back, but no one else?”

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