PayPal dabbles in social credit and now their stock is suffering

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GUEST HOST: David Menzies


The other day, I was thinking about that superb British TV series, Black Mirror.

Black Mirror ran for five seasons starting in 2011. Most episodes are set in the near-future, and it’s typically a dystopian future. Black Mirror is akin to a new-age Twilight Zone, the difference being that many of the episodes focus on new technology and the often-detrimental effect that technology has on the human condition.

Black Mirror is supposed to be speculative fiction. But a decade after first airing, this TV series is coming across as eerily prescient.

Consider this brief analysis of the chilling episode, Nosedive, courtesy of Brainpilot, which features a sort of social credit rating:

Now, those ratings have repercussions. For example, when the episodes main character, Lacey, wants to rent a car, her rating has declined to such a point that it’s now too low for her to rent the best cars available. Thus, she must accept a sub-par beater, which of course, breaks down. And she dares not vent about that to the rental company because that will undoubtedly lower her rating even further.

As the episode proceeds, a continuing series of unfortunate incidents — most of which are completely beyond Lacey’s control — causes her rating to further plummet. By the episode’s ending, her rating is so low that she’s deemed to be a detriment to polite society and is actually incarcerated. She is, in effect, cancelled outright.

I was thinking of Nosedive during the Thanksgiving weekend when news broke about a new PayPal policy that was due to go into effect on November 3. PayPal is an online payment system that allows users to pay for transactions and accept payments when selling items or services. But apparently it also fancies itself to be Big Brother as well.

You see, PayPal recently decided to update its terms of use. You know, those impossibly long legalese disclaimers that the vast majority of us never read. We simply press “Accept” and carry on with our busy days.

Ah, but some keen-eyed observer actually did take the time and trouble to go through those seemingly endless terms and conditions. And a good thing, too, because starting on November 3, PayPal was going to reimagine itself as a free speech gatekeeper. You see, if any of PayPal’s 429 million consumers and merchants expressed “misinformation”, they would be fined a whopping US$2,500!

How utterly astonishing is that? The idea of a financial services conduit devolving into a bunch of censorious corporate thugs that would take it upon themselves to:

  1. think that THEY are the moral authorities when it comes to what is and isn’t so-called “misinformation”; and
  2. would be so full of unearned entitlement that they would consider themselves to be members of law enforcement or government, i.e., the typical entities that actually have the ability to levy fines; and,
  3. that this could actually take root in the United States of America, you know, land of the free and the home of the brave… oh, and lest we forget, the home of the First Amendment, too.

When the shite hit the fan, PayPal quickly went into damage control mode. The company eventually crafted a statement that read as follows:

An AUP (acceptable use policy) notice recently went out in error that included incorrect information. PayPal is not fining people for misinformation and this language was never intended to be inserted in our policy. Our teams are working to correct our policy pages. We’re sorry for the confusion this has caused.

Fascinating. PayPal issued a statement that was meant to clear up “confusion” but actually the statement causes MORE confusion. At least for me, it does.

For starters, PayPal states that its so-called acceptable use policy went out in error and furthermore, that the policy included incorrect information? Does anyone believe that? Because if you do, I have a bridge for sale in a certain New York borough.

That’s because when terms of use policies are crafted, the corporate legal team goes through such documentation with a proverbial fine-toothed comb. Lawyers actually fret over all of the nitty-gritty details when it comes to terms and conditions — right down to whether a particular sentence needs a comma or a semi-colon.

The idea that some loosey-goosey and presumably unapproved verbiage got into the acceptable use policy is completely preposterous. This simply does NOT happen.

Regardless, such verbiage is not computer-generated. Somebody at PayPal — who remains unidentified — thought this was a superb idea. You know, that PayPal would act as a regulator or law enforcement officer complete with fining powers to send a financial penalty to those users the company deemed to be guilty of “wrong-think.”

And another thing that further diminishes PayPal’s credibility on this issue: those terms and conditions that PayPal would like you to think were just some random error or whatever were very precisely defined. Consider that $2,500 penalty. The fine is not $2,400 nor is it $2,600, but precisely $2,500. Contrary to what PayPal is claiming today, everything about these terms and conditions were thought out completely. PayPal is not currently in mea culpa mode for its attempt to boost its bottom line as an unofficial censor; rather, it is showing contrition because it got caught red-handed.

To add fuel to the fire, PayPal is actually in coverup mode right now because nobody I know is buying that copious quantity of bull-shite that its new and unimproved policy was an error.

Rather, I think PayPal thought that given the current draconian climate that is governed by the unholy trinity of wokeism, political correctness, and cancel culture, PayPal thought they could get away such a fascist policy without creating any shock waves. And dare I say, they likely thought they’d be applauded for its censorship by the usual suspects — everyone from the Joe Biden Democrats and the Justin Trudeau Liberals to all of those moronic Marxists on campus — all of whom have a problem with free speech and none of whom have a problem with limiting free speech. Even in the USA.

You know, folks, in a way I kind of regret that this policy is not taking effect on November 3. Because I would love to know what the corporate masters at PayPal would deem to be so-called misinformation. We’ll never know for sure, but I do have a hunch based on the political landscape of Silicon Valley. Which is to say, here’s betting that a PayPal user questioning the legitimacy of the 2020 U.S. federal election would be slapped with a $2,500 misinformation fine whereas a user questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election would be free to do so — and maybe even rewarded. I’m also going to speculate that anyone disagreeing with the policies of head medical necromancer Dr. Anthony Fauci would also find his or herself $2,500 light in the pocket.

As well, I would’ve also loved to witness the drama of a fined PayPal customer fighting such a grotesque penalty in court. Maybe PayPal deems itself to be above and beyond the law; but a court of law might render a different opinion.

In the bigger picture, what is it about the providers of financial services reinventing themselves as the guardians of society? I understand that if you go to a bank for a car loan or a mortgage and you lack a sufficient income and your credit score is in the sewer, well, yeah, a bank is under no obligation to pony up the funds. That’s the free market economy at work.

But what we are see increasingly seeing today has very little to do with the free market economy. Indeed, capitalism is an economic system which recognizes individual rights. What we are witnessing now is corporatism, which is an alternative form of socialism that intends to achieve social justice, whatever that is.

Case in point: remember Ezra Levant’s monologue last December when he outed the Royal Bank for declining our mortgage application? Incredibly, RBC’s decision had absolutely nothing to do with Rebel’s financial wherewithal.

Check out this excerpt, from about 16 seconds to the three-minute mark:

So how do you like them bitter apples? If you’re a conservative or hold right-of-centre opinions, the Royal Bank of Canada wants nothing to do with you. Gross.

Oh, and you may recall my interview with Gary Duke of Grand Prairie, Alberta, back in August. Scotiabank actually fired Gary as a client. Good golly, Miss Molly! What did Gary do? Did he default on a loan payment? Did he steal one of those chained-down bank pens? No. Gary was deemed persona non grata for daring to ask an impolite question. Check it out:

I love that statement by the bank manager when he says that the bank is all about inclusivity and tolerance… only to be intolerant of Gary Duke’s question and then the bank embraces exclusivity by firing Gary as a customer. Oh, the irony…

But in the final analysis, there is a silver lining to the now-aborted PayPal policy.

First, their proposed perverse policy of fining people a hefty $2,500 for wrong-thought is now deader than disco.

Secondly, the company’s shares are now down almost 6%. Good.

And thirdly, customers are abandoning PayPal en masse. Indeed. Just consider this USA Today story from two days ago entitled, “How to delete your PayPal account permanently, and what to keep in mind before you do”.

Ouch!

Folks, do you think PayPal is suffering from buyer’s remorse right now thanks to its desire to rebrand itself from PayPal to… PayPirate?

And that’s the crux of the matter. When it comes to political correctness and wokeism and cancel culture, the moral of this sordid story is this: don’t play ball, don’t bend the knee. Stand up to these despicable censors and malicious Marxists.

That’s what happened to PayPal over the weekend, and it has been rightfully punished.

Indeed, how’s this for jaw-dropping irony? PayPal was planning to financially discipline its customers for — shockers — espousing a contrarian opinion to leftist narrative nonsense… and now it is PayPal itself being financially disciplined due to users closing their PayPal accounts and given that PayPal’s stock price is in freefall? Lovin’ it!

You know, if they ever get around to making more Black Mirror episodes, I’d love to see a tale based on the PayPal fiasco. And unlike Nosedive and so many other episodes of Black Mirror, the PayPal story will have a happy ending.

GUEST: Franco Terrazzano (Follow @Franco_Nomics on Twitter)

FINALLY: Your letters!

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