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It seems that you can't go for more than a couple of weeks without hearing a politically-charged story of how payment processors are meddling with their clients business. Stripe, Paypal, Mastercard, Visa, and now Patreon.

Currently, Patreon and Sargon of Akkad are having a spat. Other YouTubers, as well as patrons, have decided to quit Patreon in solidarity and/or because they believe that Patreon no longer has their interests in mind or that once their interest falls out of line from Patreon's they will suffer a similar fate.

I also came across another Patreon client (Dave Pakman Show) who had Amazon attack him over their now discontinued Amazon payments service.

Finally, you could also look into the de-platforming of Gab.ai and Alex Jones for examples.

  • Why does this happen?
  • What motivates payment processors to decide to financially disassociated themselves from people or brands that are making them money?
  • Aren't they (influencers) protected from legal repercussions as long as the things are not illegal?
  • Don't payment processors expose themselves to legal action on account of their users by attempting to be publishing clearing houses?
  • Doesn't the size and monopolistic qualities of these organizations prohibit them by law from doing things such as this?
  • Doesn't this behavior equate to business suicide, as it gives opportunity for competitors to arise?

It seems to me that they are acting as the New Inquisition stamping out "sinners", and attempting to solicit reverence and subservience. For the latter you can look to the interview of Matt Christensen and Patreon's new head of Trust & Safety committee, Jacqueline Hart link. Towards the end of the interview, Jacqueline tells Matt that if Sargon has apologized appropriately, his Patreon account might have been re-instated.

I believe this is politically motivated, that's why I chose this SE over another, given the current dichotomy and the heatednesss of it in current politics. At play are the two major forces of politics: tyranny and freedom. I'm not asking for a strictly legal response (ie Law.SE), but legalities might help flesh things out.

closed as off-topic by Drunk Cynic, Giter, user11249, bytebuster, Andrew Grimm Dec 24 '18 at 3:30

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about governments, policies and political processes within the scope defined in the help center." – Drunk Cynic, Community, bytebuster
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • This question is borderline. While it is not about a government per se, it touches on the issue of whether there is a new governing institution emerging. It may need to be rephrased more in that vein before it becomes a question appropriate for this site. I wouldn't vote to close it just yet, but it does need an edit. – grovkin Dec 23 '18 at 19:46
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    If it’s on-topic, it’s definitely too broad. I count at least seven questions in this post. – chirlu Dec 27 '18 at 6:07
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Payment processing companies are businesses and have to square the fact that payments from a particular individual (or organisation) are making them money with the potential damage that processing payments on behalf of that personal (or organisation) may do to their brand and hence their overall balance sheet.

Alex Jones is a good example of this. His payments were processed for a considerable amount of time prior to him being 'de-platformed' which occurred around the same time the he was removed from other platforms in connection with comments made about a school shooting. The point here is they are not trying to police the internet but distance themselves from potential damage to their brand.

In addition all companies especially large and well known ones have to consider to what extent they need to police activity so as to avoid the consequences of legislation which may have a significant impact on their businesses.

Doesn't this behaviour equate to business suicide, as it gives opportunity for competitors to arise?

These businesses already have a number of competitors e.g neteller and skrill

Don't payment processors expose themselves to legal action on account of their users by attempting to be publishing clearing houses?

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this but I don't see that they are making a serious attempt to check their clients they are simply choosing not to do business with (or for) a select few people who have fallen into public disrepute.

I think I've covered most of points above if your looking for more detailed answers to the legal points i'd suggest posting them on law se

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First of all, there is one important thing you need to keep in mind when talking about freedom of speech issues. Freedom of speech means that the state is not allowed to restrict speech. But this does not extend to private entities. Private entities are not obligated to provide a platform for speech they do not agree with. They are also not obligated to make business with everyone.

Sometimes the state tries to force companies to make business with people the company would prefer to discriminate against. This isn't always non-controversial. See the same-sex wedding cake controversy for a well-known example (In this case the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the businesses right to refuse service). But most anti-discrimination laws cover aspects about a person they can not change, like ethnicity or sexual orientation. They usually do not consider political opinion a protected class. So private companies have the right to not offer their services to people who use those services to promote views the company doesn't agree with.

Now why would a financial services provider like Patreon, Paypal or Visa not want to make business with people they disagree with politically?

  • Moral conscience. They find that what these people say is abhorrent and a danger to society, so they consider it their moral responsibility to not enable those people. Whether one agrees with their assessment in individual cases or not is a matter of personal opinion.
  • PR reasons. They know that the majority of their customers find these people's views abhorrent. So in order to appease the majority of their customers, they exclude this majority of customers from their services.
  • Liability reasons. When one of their customers violates hate-speech laws, then there is a chance that the payment provider might be considered an accessory to the crime and also be considered guilty. I am not a lawyer, so I can hardly say if this is a realistic scenario. But companies usually try to avoid such potential liabilities whenever they can.
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Why does this happen?

What motivates payment processors to decide to financially kill off people or brands that are making them money? Isn't this business suicide.

Visa, Amazon, Patreon etc are private companies. They are not obligated to offer a platform to anybody, providing they don't obstruct someone's human rights. In particular, if they judge that allowing a person to use their platform will negatively affect their business, they don't have to allow them. It happens because the brand judges that they make more money by excluding a person than including them.

Anyone is free to start a business. If you feel there is a gap in the market you can do so yourself. Good luck.

Aren't they protected from legal repercussions as long as the things are not illegal?

(I paraphrase xkcd) Free speech means that the government can't arrest you from expressing your opinion. It doesn't mean that anyone has to listen to you. It doesn't protect you from being banned from an internet community.

The US government can't arrest "Sargon". But that doesn't mean that Patreon is required to allow him a platform.

Don't payment processors expose themselves to legal action on account of their users by attempting to be publishing clearing houses?

They can be sued, but the suits are likely to fail. Unless the plaintiff can establish that the company was acting in a way that discriminated illegally (for example if it was racial or gender discrimination) then the suit is not going to succeed.

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