Paypal shuts yet another account down
geek post

Paypal shuts yet another account down


The concept of credit cards and digital cash seems so convenient, with no heavy coins to carry, and no need for purses at all in the future when you can just skip the phone altogether and use your fingerprint everywhere. Or your DNA. Gattaca isn't that far away, is it?

In Sweden, which has rushed toward the future with the goal of being a cashless society asap, everything from public transportation to small corner shops will not take cash. They will, however, take all the new-fangled phone blipping, swishing, and whatever else was invented while I slept. No problem.

Way back in the dawn of the internet, there were several complicated ways of getting money sent over the wires - once I was mailed 2 dollars in US cash to get an account at Adland, but the person who sent me that forgot to include his email so I couldn't give him an all-access account. I also used a credit card system that nobody trusted because "it was the internet",  so people would email begging for free access all day long.

Enter Paypal, which suddenly exploded as people were selling things on the internet and wanted a smoother way to send and receive money.  A great solution to the issue, it was, until Paypal began shutting vendors down for all sorts of reasons. Paypal shut Adland down right before the superbowl in 2004, because we had an article about an Opium Perfume ad, with the image attached.

I've learned to not monogamously commit to third-party anything since then, but Paypal skyrocketed to the number one "internet money" bank and is now used by billions of people around the world.

Recently, the "Paypal shut down X" headlines have been quite numerous. And these are worse blunders than trying to shield people from seeing a stamp-sized image of Sophie Dahl's nude breasts.

Two weeks ago Paypal shut down Flipper Zero, a fun little device inspired by the pwnagotchi project that can interact with radio protocols, access control systems, anything with infrared, bluetooth or NFC and is pretty much the ideal thing to get me for Christmas. When Paypal froze their account, they locked in more than a million dollars that should be going to pay for new productions now. Their account was terminated permanently.

Why? The fact that some people involved in the project are Russians might be the reason. That other parts of the team are Ukrainians makes no difference.

Meanwhile, far away from tech gadgets, a parents’ group that fought to keep schools open during the pandemic has become the latest to have their account shut down by PayPal due to, and I quote, “the nature of its activities”. The group is UsforThem, and just like in Adland's case, Paypal cited the user agreement and then went incommunicado.

Paypal also shut down the Free Speech Union, as well as the Daily Sceptic, and in today's world of social media, this was announced there first.

I must admit that I've never heard of any of these publications/organizations, apart from the joyful geek-toy Flipper Zero, but I am surprised that they actually used PayPal in the first place.
We've known for almost twenty years that Paypal can and will drop you for anything they deem against the ToS. They will freeze your funds that instant, and it can cripple and kill a budding business.

It was one thing to only use PayPal back when there were no real alternatives in 2004, but if your business is "building its audience" on platforms like Facebook and Twitter today and using only Paypal for "convenience" in sales, you are setting yourself up to be de-platformed in an instant.

Self-host everything and use half a dozen payment systems that you empty with a script every evening.

I leave you with some creativity from long ago that still looks quite amazing today. Imagine if this had been lost because some company just flicked a switch and turned it all off because of the TOS.