Exclusive: Rep. Issa Probes PayPal ‘Disinformation Policy’
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is demanding PayPal provide answers about new language in its user agreement, allegedly announced in “error,” fining accounts $2,500 owned by people who “promote misinformation” — asking specifically if the payment processing giant consulted with the Biden administration on the policy.
PayPal this week announced that it would deduct $2,500 from users who violate its policy on “misinformation,” “hate,” or speech the company deemed “unfit for publication,” but then quickly pivoted to reverse the move following backlash.
Rep. Issa has now sent a letter to PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, obtained exclusively by Breitbart News, requesting information on the move — which the Congressman called a “policy that would unmistakably censor free speech” — and inquiring whether the company “[consulted] or [inquired] with the Biden administration … regarding the need, drafting or implementation of this mis/disinformation policy.”
Then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed in July, 2021, that the White House was coordinating with Facebook to censor what the government deemed “disinformation” about COVID, saying at the time they were “flagging problematic posts” to be removed from public discourse — leading Issa to question whether this behavior has extended to PayPal.
Issa asks PayPal how they intend to “adjudicate the ambiguous term ‘misinformation’,” asking specifically if COVID misinformation would be included, as well as gender pronouns.
Issa also told Breitbart the move indicates a new frontier of censorship — not just hiding written posts, but controlling speech through financial penalties.
“The PayPal action is a new line in the sand: Big Tech isn’t just censoring speech, but imposing huge financial penalties to cripple people who don’t comply,” Issa said.
Read the full text of the letter:
Dear Mr. Schulman
I write to express deep concern and to obtain answers regarding widespread media reports that PayPal surreptitiously added language to its users’ policy that would unmistakably censor free speech and fine participants for the spread of what the company determines to be “misinformation.”
As reported by The Daily Wire, Fox Business and other outlets, PayPal issued notice of the intent to update its user “Acceptable Use Policy” that was set to go into effect November 3, 2022. Specifically, the update specified to PayPal users that “You may not use the PayPal service for activities that … involve the sending, posting, or publication of any messages, content or materials that, in PayPal’s sole discretion … promote misinformation.” If found to have violated the policy, your company threatened to not only remove users from the platform, but also that $2,500 per violation will be deducted from their accounts.
Historically, the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy has not sought to police speech, but rather prevent illegal activity on the platform, including the sale of narcotics, the trafficking of stolen goods, the promotion of Ponzi schemes and other criminal activities. Because of this, the public was rightly alarmed upon learning of the addition of the highly ambiguous “misinformation” provision. Unfortunately, however, millions of Americans are today very well-versed in the regular attempts of Big Tech and Big Government to censor and silence their free speech.
Following the reporting, your company rescinded this policy update, explaining that it was added in “error” and that PayPal is still developing an updated policy. This has also become a routine excuse term when a tech platform targets and takes down a user and a public outcry ensues. It is therefore of critical importance that your company detail the full extent of this “error.”
Given this concerning policy and the intent of PayPal to issue an upcoming user update, please answer the following questions no later than October 30, 2022.
1. Please detail the offices and/or departments within PayPal that approved of the updated Acceptable Use Policy language that was posted on the company’s website, with a planned implementation date of November 3, 2022.
a. Please detail the offices, departments and officials that will be approving of the update currently in draft form.
2. Did PayPal, or any of its officials, consult or inquire with the Biden Administration, any of its employees, or recent former employees regarding the need, drafting or implementation of this mis/disinformation policy?
3. How did PayPal intend to adjudicate the ambiguous term “misinformation”?
a. Would COVID misinformation have been covered by the policy?
b. Would the definition of “male” and “female” have been covered by the policy?
c. What categories of “misinformation” did PayPal contemplate needed censorship that were not already covered by the previous policy?
4. How many PayPal users did the company have before October 7, 2022, and how many users are currently on the platform? What is the average PayPal user’s account balance at any given time?
5. When can a new policy be expected?
6. Will the company commit itself to a corporate practice of fundamental fairness and not single out for sanction users who don’t share certain political views.
Within days of the policy being announced, PayPal claimed the policy was announced “in error” and that it included “incorrect information.”
“An AUP notice recently went out in error that included incorrect information,” PayPal said in a statement. “PayPal is not fining people for misinformation and this language was never intended to be inserted in our policy. We’re sorry for the confusion this has caused.”
Former top management at PayPal, including Elon Musk, David Sacks, and David Marcus, spoke out on social media against the announcement.
Markus called the policy “Insanity,” to which Musk replied “Agreed.”
David Sacks warned, “Get your money out of paypal right now.”
“The only ‘mistake’ PayPal made was thinking the American people are going to stand for this abuse of their power,” Rep. Issa told Breitbart. “Time and again, conservatives and others are being targeted and taken down by Big Tech companies that want to silence them. There is no way we will allow this to continue.”
Emma-Jo Morris is the Politics Editor at Breitbart News. Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter.