PayPal is canceling accounts operated by groups on both fringes of the political spectrum, including the Proud Boys founded by far-right provocateur Gavin McInnes and various anti-fascism, or antifa, organizations, putting an obstacle in their efforts to maintain funding.
The payment processor is banning accounts used by the Proud Boys, Mr. McInnes, Atlanta Antifa, Antifa Sacramento and the Anti-Fascist Network, the company confirmed Friday, hours after similarly purging a British anti-Muslim activist, Tommy Robinson, and on the heels of quietly canceling accounts connected to several other antifa groups in the U.S. and abroad.
“We do not allow PayPal services to be used to promote hate, violence or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory,” PayPal said in a statement.
The bans were first reported on Twitter by Blake Montgomery, a reporter for BuzzFeed News, prior to being corroborated by various outlets including The Verge, a tech website that published further details Friday afternoon.
“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,” a PayPal spokesperson told The Verge in a statement. “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.”
PayPal previously quietly canceled connected to Antifa Philadelphia, Antifa Arkansas, Belfast Antifa and Rose City Antifa, The Verge reported, and on Thursday the company publicly punted Robinson, a co-founder of the far-right English Defense League infamous for spewing anti-Muslim rhetoric.
“Our group completely rejects the ‘both sides’ stance taken by PapPal,” Atlanta Antifascists said in a statement. “The Proud Boys engage in group beat-down of those they perceived as leftists or other enemies. In collaboration with open white nationalists, they target marginalized communities. Antifascists monitor and oppose the far-right. All our efforts are community self-defense.”
The Proud Boys will “consider legal action for tortious interference,” Jason Lee Van Dyke, a lawyer for the group, told the Daily Beast.
“While the 1st Amendment protects us from government censorship, the major conglomerates controlling big tech do not believe in the values upon which our country was founded,” he said.
Robinson, the British activist, branded his ban as “fascism.”
“The government and establishment can see I have public support, they can see I have the ability to fight back,” he said, according to BBC.
Mr. McInnes, a 48-year-old talk show host and co-founder of Vice Media, could not immediately be reached for comment. He has previously been banned from multiple platforms, including being booted from Facebook last month.
Launched by Mr. McInnes in 2016 as fraternal group of self-described “western chauvinists,” the Proud Boys gained notoriety last month after a street brawl erupted in Manhattan between several members and protesters, including Antifa activists, following an appearance by its founder at the Metropolitan Republican Club. The New York Police Department subsequently issued arrest warrants for a dozen alleged participants, including nine suspected Proud Boys.
Earlier this week, meanwhile, Twitter suspended an account operated by anti-fascist activists after its members coordinated a protest outside the D.C. home of Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.