PayPal announced on Friday that it is canceling accounts belonging to the extreme right-wing group the Proud Boys, its founder Gavin McInnes, the Anti-Facist Network, the Atlanta Antifa, and Antifa Sacramento. The payment-processing company also banned Tommy Robinson, who founded the far-right English Defence League. The move will make it more difficult for the groups to engage in online fundraising.
“Striking the necessary balance between upholding free expression and open dialogue and protecting principles of tolerance, diversity and respect for all people is a challenge that many companies are grappling with today,” Paypal told the Daily Beast. “We work hard to achieve the right balance and to ensure that our decisions are values-driven and not political. We carefully review accounts and take action as appropriate. We do not allow PayPal services to be used to promote hate, violence, or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory.” The payment-processing company would not reveal what specific actions had led to the groups’ deplatforming.
The Proud Boys made headlines in October when members of the group were involved in a violent altercation with antifa members in New York following a speech that McInnes gave for the Metropolitan Republican Club. New York police arrested five members of the Proud Boys in the aftermath. Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram banned the group and McInnes from their platforms at the end of the month.
While antifa as a whole has been controversial, it’s unclear why Paypal has singled out these specific local affiliates. In past years, the company has also quietly revoked accounts belonging to Belfast Antifa, Antifa Arkansas, Antifa Philadelphia, and Rose City Antifa. The Atlanta Antifa blamed the deplatforming on “false equivalence” in a tweet.
Paypal banned the social network Gab at the end of October after it was revealed that the gunman who allegedly killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh had been posting anti-Semitic content on the site. In September, Paypal made the high-profile decision to cut off Alex Jones and Infowars, joining a number of other platforms like Twitter and Facebook that had also recently blocked the far-right conspiracy theorist and his outlet. Jones filed a lawsuit against Paypal last month alleging “viewpoint discrimination” and is demanding that he be allowed back on the platform.