PayPal in turmoil: is its customers’ money in a safe place?

After the reveal of its future terms of service, PayPal suffered a major opt-out movement. Since then, the American company has retraced its steps, leaving behind a bitter taste of censorship for its customers. What created the controversy?

Back to the origins of the scandal

Last weekend, the online payment giant PayPal found itself at the heart of an intense controversy. In question, its future conditions of use explicitly favored the use of censorship against its customers.

According to this document, anyone who violates PayPal’s rules of use could be fined up to $2,500, deducted directly from the user’s account. To quote the words of the file:

Violation of these Terms of Service constitutes a violation of PayPal’s User Agreement and may subject you to damages of up to $2,500 per violation, which may be charged directly to your PayPal account […]. 

Also in the same document, the American company specified that it could apply its fine “by its sole judgment”. Without going into the details related to the legal nature or not of such a measure, the company had therefore taken a position in favor of a potential censorship applicable to its users.

“PayPal will steal all of your money if you send, post, or publish “any message, content, or material that, in PayPal’s sole judgment, is harmful, obscene, harassing, or objectionable.” 

This situation is a reminder of the power of censorship acquired by large companies, where decision-making is centralized. Moreover, it is by wanting to fight this centralization that the Bitcoin cryptocurrency was born.

PayPal goes into reverse

After the publication of these new terms of use, which were to come into effect from November 3, 2022, a wave of unsubscription hit the platform. On Twitter, many Internet users have posted screenshots showing their unsubscription to the services of the American company.

For his part, David Marcus (former president of PayPal) affirmed his opposition to the new rules desired by PayPal:

PayPal’s new rules go against everything I believe. A private company can now decide to take your money if you say something it disagrees with. This is madness“ . 

After these few hours of media storm, the company ended up responding to its opponents. According to a press release, PayPal claims that the document containing its future terms of service was “an error. In addition, the payment company emphasizes that it “ never intended to include these rules” in its terms of use.

Despite everything, for many Internet users, the pill is difficult to pass. Some wonder how a multi-page document could have been accidentally written and published. In other words, whether this error was intentional or not, the company has lost the trust of its customers.

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