back to article PayPal decides fining people $2,500 for 'misinformation' wasn't a great idea

PayPal has backed away from fining its own customers up to $2,500 for promoting whatever it determines is "misinformation." The punishment showed up in its updated acceptable use policy, captured by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine on September 27, which was due to take effect on November 3. But the revision was deleted …

  1. Piro Silver badge

    It doesn't even seem legal in any way

    That's as if you went to pay for a meal at a restaurant, you gave them your card, they decided they didn't like something you said and put a few zeroes on the bill, and declared it all part of their terms and conditions.

    Refusing service is very different from arbitrarily stealing someone's money.

    1. Steve Button Silver badge

      Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

      Of course it's not legal, but the article seems to play it down with "lets the lawyers write a ‘legal’ document without realizing it’s also a marketing document", as if this is a theoretical situation.

      A couple of weeks ago PayPal shut down the account of UsForThem, which is an organisation which seeks to keep children in schools for the benefit of their mental health (anti-lockdown?). They never explained why, but they froze the account and held onto thousands of pounds in funds, saying they will keep it for 180 days while they investigate. At which point they make remove "damages" from the funds.

      After a public outcry they reversed that decision.

      They also did the same thing, ironically, with the Free Speech Union. And again backtracked after a few days of public outcry.

      The worrying thing is that banks could easily start doing the same thing, and freeze your account if you said something they didn't like. Think this couldn't happen in a western liberal democracy? Well, last year it happened in Canada.

      Most people don't seem to know (or care?) about this.

      Myself, I have shut my PayPal account and thinking about using anonymous cryptocurrency. Not that I'd be able to use it to pay for food shopping!? But a scary thought that I could be frozen out of my own money, for saying something the government or some company doesn't agree with (and I have a very big mouth, and tend to say what I think).

      Am I being a bit tin-foil-hat here, or was this just a one off due to Covid craziness in Canada? (and other places)

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

        The worrying thing is that banks could easily start doing the same thing

        I believe that in the EU (and therefore, by legacy the UK?), PayPal IS a bank and is subject to banking laws. I think it unlikely that the regulators would put up with this nonsense.

        In the US (and Canada?) PayPal operates as an unregulated bank and is apparently largely free to do anything it damn well pleases with its client's assets.

        My personal belief is that anyone who conducts financial transactions through an unregulated bank is nuts. I've spent two decades trying to avoid any dealings with PayPal. But I'm in the US where credit card transactions above some low minimum are (at least conceptionally) reversible, and paper checks are a viable alternative for many payments. Not sure that those options are as viable elsewhere.

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

          I've never used PayPal, here in the UK (or elsewhere), although it and Klara are often options for online payments. Not using PayPal seems to be no bar to spending money.

          I do, however, occasionally get strange emails ro phone calls about my 'PayPal' (or Amazon Prime*) account, which I tend to ignore.

          *I don't have one of those either.

        2. cosmodrome

          Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

          >Not sure that those options are as viable elsewhere.

          They are. US customer's rights are practically non-existent compared to the godless, socialist rest of the world that hates your freedom so much. All these shiny, weasel-worded EULAs you're geting presented before you can even look at what you've just paid for are completely worthless in the EU and in pretty much any other place in the world except, maybe, Japan and South Korea.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

          Yep. I had opened a PP account over 15 years ago, then had 2nd thoughts as I read more and more user horror stories over the years of their unaccountability as compared with normal banking institutions in the US.

          Since it seemed outright severance might not keep them out of my backing account, I simply closed down the account with a credit union tied to a former employer when I retired. PP seems to think it's still active, but there's nothing there any more for them to touch.

          That does limit my notions of selling stuff on eBay, but so be it. Not getting sucked into any new way for them to get to my funds.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

        UsForThem is not exactly as you glibly describe it.

        The founders were anti-vaxxers and they opposed lockdowns right back from when they made a lot of sense until we knew what we were dealing with (and the founders of that group certainly didn't). They are anti-vaccination now, and also anti-mask. They are anti-anything related to Covid, including whether it even exists. And I'm certain not having free child-minding was/is also a factor.

        They also have strong support from known disinformation sources.

        'UsforThem’s founders and members have been involved in a wide range of groups and networks promoting COVID-19 and anti-vaxxer disinformation and misinformation.'

        It would appear there is likely a reason(s) they were blocked after all.

        1. Woodnag

          UsForThem?

          You don't like UsForThem's speech, so that counts as "reason(s) they were blocked"?

        2. snow20191102

          Depends on your belief system

          If you find, as I did, that the vaccine killed a dear friend within a week (VAXXED on Friday, dead the following Wednesday) then you may have grounds for thinking that these vaxxines are not 'Totally Safe' (government 'belief'/sales pitch).

      3. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

        Is paypal, you can do nothing wrong, even by their terms of service and still lose your account.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

        "Myself, I have shut my PayPal account and thinking about using anonymous cryptocurrency. "

        I'm an analog sort of guy so I use cash. I may also use a postal money order if I don't want to give out card numbers. If I need to use a card for an online purchase, I might get a V/MC gift card.

        Cash is very good in situations where the power or internet isn't working. It's easier to tip with it and hand to the nieces for the ice cream their mom would rather they didn't have. I always make sure I have cash for gas and food when I do a long road trip tucked away in the car. I could stretch out in the car for a nap if I need some sleep but in the US, the Last Chance Gas Station might not always have reliable internet or power, but they will have a generator and will accept cash. Getting things to happen is also less expensive with cash. Imagine trying to get a better table at a restaurant or get the doorman to move you up to the front of the line. You are not going to do that with crypto, but the old rustling handshake often does the trick.

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

      No, it's like you go into a restaurant with whom you have already signed a contract and deposited much money, eat your meal, and get billed out of your deposit. If the contract says so, they can take more money for other stuff you've agreed to.

      In this case, what we actually have is an attempt to phrase things so Paypal can cut off conmen like Alex Jones before they [paypal] become liable for huge losses. They're trying to prevent obvious scammers using their platform.

      1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

        Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

        That may well be their intention, but this is not an acceptable way to do it.

        They can certainly terminate someone's account if they don't like them, but they must return all their money.

        It is time PayPal was subject to the same laws and norms as banks.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

          They have a duty to withhold the funds until they're sure it's not a scam anyway, so that argument doesn't hold much water.

          Paypal _is_ subject to the same laws and norms as banks. Banks routinely 'fine' their customers in accordance with the terms and conditions. If you give anyone control over your money, then you are subject to the usual practical problems arising from 'possession is nine tenths of the law'. If you choose to do that with a company that has a problem with scammers targeting them, you shouldn't be surprised if you eventually get your account wrongly frozen or whatever due to their aggressive anti-fraud measures.

          My opinion of Paypal's T&Cs is that I wouldn't dream of running a business that relied on leaving significant sums in a Paypal account. If you're a small enough business to be hamstrung by the loss of $2500 for the time it takes to fight Paypal, then you definitely shouldn't be letting Paypal hang on to that much of your money in the first place - there are any number of ways that can go wrong, and they are notoriously slow and useless at sorting things out (though they do get there eventually, on the whole).

          But is there anything wrong with trying to stop conmen using the service to launder money? Of course not, they're required by law to do so. They just cocked up the phrasing of one bit and created a PR problem.

          1. cornetman Silver badge

            Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

            > They have a duty to withhold the funds until they're sure it's not a scam anyway, so that argument doesn't hold much water.

            No, it's the job of the police and courts to determine this. If the courts issue a warrant, they can demand that banks freeze assets.

            If the banks start trying to police us, then we are in serious trouble.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

              You can pontificate all you like, but that's what the law says.

              1. cornetman Silver badge
                Stop

                Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

                The law says that banks must freeze accounts associated with criminal activity if courts legally order them to do so. They are under no obligation to police the wider affairs of their customers.

                However, they *do* have a right to protect themselves from fraud perpetrated against themselves by individuals, including their customers.

                Banks have neither the means nor the legal weight to police the non-banking activities of individuals that hold accounts with them. It is a big enough problem for the police to properly pursue illegal wrong-doing and it's their entire job. :(

                1. unimaginative Bronze badge

                  Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

                  However, they *do* have a right to protect themselves from fraud perpetrated against themselves by individuals, including their customers.

                  In the UK banks now also have a duty to verify that their customers are not being defrauded. So if you have been persuaded to, for example, transfer money to someone, withdraw cash (or gold) to handover to someone, if the bank fails to check the person you are sending money to is not defrauding you and you have been scammed they have to refund you.

                2. heyrick Silver badge

                  Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

                  In defence of the police, the "wrongdoing" that they have to deal with is massively more than that which would concern a bank.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

              Imagine what they could do if we had a cashless society. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts even more... If we go 100% cashless, the powers that be will start trawling through all our financial activities with AI tools to look for "immoral" or "undesirable" behaviour... Heck they can even determine things like mental health status by looking at our transaction records. And nobody will be able to escape it. Because anonymous bank accounts are prohibited. Everything you do, tied to your real name, will end up being stored on a database. It's only a couple of decades away, at this rate. If it's not stopped by public outcry.

      2. Piro Silver badge

        Re: It doesn't even seem legal in any way

        If PayPal doesn't agree with the actions of a user or other entity on their platform, they should return the money and close the account. Anything else is theft - there's no way a business can be trusted if they can suddenly decide they'll randomly take money from you should you say something they don't like. What happens when you post a negative review of PayPal? Is it justified for them to steal your money in that case? This is a ridiculous argument.

        The only way withholding of a balance could be justified is through a court-led process - if the money was deemed proceeds of crime. In a court of law. We can't just throw due process in the bin because we have disagreements.

  2. AMBxx Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    On the plus side

    This story has made headlines in mainstream press. All negative. Maybe people will start to understand the power some of these companies have. Plenty of people saying they're going to close their accounts.

    1. Steve Button Silver badge

      Re: On the plus side

      I filed a complaint i.r.t. UsForThem and wrote to the UK CEO, and gave them a week to respond. Heard nothing, closed my account.

  3. Trigun Silver badge

    By itself you might construe that this was indeed a mistake, a terrible miswording, etc.. It can happen, some people make mistakes and there should always be room for forgiveness for such.

    However, when you frame this against the background of Paypal attempting to deplatform the Free Spoeech Union and UsForThem recently, amongst many organisations historically, because they didn't tow the main stream line (and I'm not talking about people supporting terrorism), then it becomes something different.

    The main issue, which always gets over-shadowed by the debate as to the merits of the organisation being deplatformed, is the fact that a main stream banking/financial organisation is 1) banning people from something we all need to exist: fincances & banking, particularly as we're soon to go cashless, 2) freezing funds for up to 180 days: Imagine that if you're a business? It would potentially kill it and you probably won't have the funds to hire a solicitor.

    Looking at this with a wider lense; This is something that has been happening for many, many years, but was, until recently, reserved for violent extremist organisations and usually at the behest of a government. It's now being used more often against private citizens and organisations who don't hold "acceptable" opinions and politics, particularly in the U.S. and Canada. Banking is becoming weaponised.

    As for those who think "So what? They are a private company and have the right to decide who they do business with", consider this: Deplatforming for wrong-think is becoming normalised and has spread to banking. If it spreads further into that area and into, say, your ISP, your electricty supplier, etc then saying the wrong thing online which your ideological opponents report you for will make life unliveable. Also keep in mind that the overton window (what is "acceptable" for public discourse) can move rapidly and can and has narrowed significantly and your opinions might be on the chopping block next.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

      Sorry, we're talking about PayPal, they're not a banking organisation, and I doubt very much they have much financial regulation either.

      They are very convenient when shopping online though so people treat them like a banking/financial organisation.

      Their terms of business are what you sign up to when you start using them.

      So, at what point should successful "banking/financial organisations" be captured by the legislation that covers banks? That's an interesting question.

      Can payPal debit you £2,500 whenever they feel like it? Well, if it's in the Ts&Cs you signed up to, what do you think?

      1. My-Handle Silver badge

        Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

        "Can payPal debit you £2,500 whenever they feel like it? Well, if it's in the Ts&Cs you signed up to, what do you think?"

        In the UK at least, contract law does not come above state law.

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

        In the US, they are registered with state governments as a money transfer business. They have a choice between registering with the Federal Government, and registering with every individual state government. They went with the state registration option.

        In the EU, they are registered as an electronic money issuer, so they are subject to the same rules as prepaid credit cards.

      3. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

        "PayPal is duly licensed in Luxembourg as a bank (or “credit institution” in legal terms)."

        -- https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/ua/servicedescription-full

        That registration covers the EU, the UK and probably other European countries.

        That $2500 was not in the terms of business or the T&Cs when most people signed up. It was added a few weeks ago.

        It may well not be enforceable in many countries, due to consumer law, particularly around unfair contract terms.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

          And in England, it also wouldn't be enforceable due to the law on penalty clauses. This protects business and corporate customers as well as consumers.

        2. Steve Button Silver badge

          Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

          Yeah, but good luck trying to get that back if you are a small charity or organisation.

          You might win it back in the end, if you have the legal funds to be able to fight it, or it could be a significant proportion of your funds and you just have to shut up shop and pack it in (which is what almost happened to UsForThem - who are a bunch of volunteer mums mostly)

          1. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

            While I'm not sure the Financial Ombudsman scheme covers SMEs or charities it's reasonable to assume that the FCA would take a direct interest. Paypal have a legal obligation in the UK to run their business with integrity.

          2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

            I don't think that repeated banging on about a bunch of ignorant/malevolent antivaxxers and covid deniers helps your case.

        3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

          "It may well not be enforceable in many countries, due to consumer law, particularly around unfair contract terms."

          That really depends on what they'd actually try to enforce. I'm pretty sure the meaning they intended - no conmen, scammers, or purveyors of woo - is just fine. If it were used for other purposes it wouldn't fly.

          Clearly it's not well-phrased, but the non-sensationalist reading, elided by clickbait merchants, is overwhelmingly likely to be what they intended, since phrased correctly it would be entirely uncontroversial*.

          (*Except among the woo-pushers, of course.)

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

            "That really depends on what they'd actually try to enforce. I'm pretty sure the meaning they intended - no conmen, scammers, or purveyors of woo - is just fine. If it were used for other purposes it wouldn't fly."

            Even conmen, scammers and purveyors of woo have rights. Such as the right to a fair trial. If PayPal have evidence of illegal activities, the most they can do is report it to the authorities and allow the judicial system to take it's course, PayPal are not a court of justice and can't impose "fines". They can close any accounts the suspects may have, but they cannot withhold access to their funds without a court order or under instructions from the Police who may already be or want to investigate without letting the suspects know.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

              None of the above is true. There are reams of regulations PayPal etc have to abide by. They have a far greater role than simply reporting miscreants.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

          "That $2500 was not in the terms of business or the T&Cs when most people signed up. It was added a few weeks ago."

          I expect there is a clause somewhere in the T&C's about updating and changing the terms from time to time that gives them an out. There has to be a notification which is often around 30 days unless laws demand 60.

          I shut my PayPal account since I didn't use anymore after eBay went to their own payment scheme and even though they backpedaled, these sorts of things usually will come around again in a more sneaky manner until somebody fails to notice they've snuck it through. I'll be having a look as some other services so I can accept debit/credit cards again. Checks and cash are preferred, but some customers would rather pay with plastic these days. Zelle is completely out of the question. That service is riddled with holes and the banks have set it up so they take less than zero responsibility for anything going amiss. I'd rather wait a couple of days to get a check in the mail than to have my whole business checking account cleared out.

      4. oiseau Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: re: a main stream banking/financial organisation

        ... if it's in the Ts&Cs you signed up to, what do you think?

        I think you are being daft.

        Others may think worse of you and your particular mindset.

        O.

    2. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Banking is becoming weaponised.

      Is becoming?

      Think again ...

      Hasn't it been so for the longest while?

      The general public never noticed because it has always happened way above their heads.

      ie: government level -> Think SEC, FED, etc.

      Now it is, slowly but steadily, happening in a more direct way.

      Soon if you do not conform to what the banking/financial corporations impose, you will not be able to buy or sell anything.

      It is all about power and control.

      O.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        We see you.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Hasn't it been so for the longest while?

        Since banking was invented and then taken to a high art under the Medicis.

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      the background of Paypal attempting to deplatform the Free Spoeech Union and UsForThem recently

      "Deplatforming" is preventing access to a potential audience. PayPal has no powers to deplatform anyone, but - like all companies - it is free to decide that it does not wish to do business with particular organisations.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        The problem is that lately it seems like payment processors (like Paypal or credit card processors like Master and Maestro) are starting to band together and coordinate such things, which makes it basically impossible for some even legit businesses (like porn producers) to find a non-sketchy payment processor to do business with.Such coordinated actions basically make it impossible for groups to operate. Right now its mostly fringe loons like those FSU and UST, but it sets a precedent and a very slippery slope I for one would prefer we didn't tread on.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "which makes it basically impossible for some even legit businesses (like porn producers) to find a non-sketchy payment processor to do business with."

          I smell a business opportunity, but I have zero knowledge of the banking business. I still think that PornHub could do well splitting off a division that hosts conservative political videos. They are already used to lots of controversy and have legal staff that know publishing rights back to front. They could even do their own version of Patreon. I haven't heard that Patreon is "woke", but there's money in handling payments for content producers so what the heck.

  4. Cederic Silver badge

    Think who this is targeting

    As much as I welcome Paypal's fall from grace, and hope the run on its funds caused by people closing their accounts leads to financial difficulties, I don't think this was intended to target consumers.

    I think this was Paypal's way of trying to prevent sites and organisations using the service to receive payments and raise funds, while promoting causes with which Paypal disagrees.

    To use an example from the past week, if I was hosting a site that provided people with accurate information on COVID vaccines I would have posted onto it details of the recent announcements by the Florida Surgeon General. Paypal would class that announcement as misinformation, as it goes against the vaccine message being pushed by the US Federal Government, and seek to remove their association to me. This clause would allow them to further charge me 'liquidated damages'.

    But that's also why it was such an insane clause to add. Citing the Florida Surgeon General is obviously not misinformation. It's just different information.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Think who this is targeting

      "as it goes against the vaccine message being pushed by the US Federal Government"

      The key word being 'pushed'. It is a shame that govt officials can't be held accountable for spreading misinformation. None of them would have a job :)

    2. Halfmad

      Re: Think who this is targeting

      policy the likes of which Paypal were considering (and probably still are) should never be created without a pressing legal reason, I don't see it here. They have exceptions for terrorism etc, misinformation is so option to interpretation that it's laughable and if based on scientific understanding will be subject to continual change - it will never be accurately enforced and is therefore a terrible idea.

      So, on one hand you have an ever-changing understanding and on the other you have subjective opinions being used, this is a recipe for disaster which lawyers will love as it'll make them even richer.

      1. Trigun Silver badge

        Re: Think who this is targeting

        I thoroughly agree. As for lawyers: That option will be available for those who can afford it, it should be noted. If you're a middle to low income private citizen or a small business then you may not have the funds, particuarly if paypal have locked funds or "taken" them.

        1. cosmodrome

          Re: Think who this is targeting

          If you happen to live in America. Not all jurisdiction can be stalled endlessly over trivial causes if one side throws enough cash in and US legislation is not the world's or "God"'s law. In Europe such a case would be settled with a single letter by a lawyer - certainly not in PayPals favour. Actually they're operating with a more or less flaky Luxembourgian bank license inside the EU and they have been taking much care to avoid any court deciding if that is actually legitimaton enough.

    3. cmdrklarg

      Re: Think who this is targeting

      "Citing the Florida Surgeon General is obviously not misinformation. It's just different information."

      Different information? Is that like alternative facts?

      From what I am able to tell from a brief amount of research, Dr. Ladapo has made several questionable statements with regard to COVID-19 in the past few years, citing some very questionable studies. His statements seem to align with that of his anti-vax, anti-mask boss DeSantis.

      I don't trust DeSantis; it's highly unlikely I will trust one of his minions. You can take Dr. Ladapo at face value if you wish, but you can be sure that I won't.

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        Re: Think who this is targeting

        > Different information? Is that like alternative facts?

        Information from Covid has varied over time as our knowledge changes.

        In addition, advice given to people is a judgement. Advice is not a *fact*, it is a subjective judgement, which may be based on facts. As such, different experts may give different advice based on their views and their aversion to risk.

        I don't know why we would be surprised that different "experts" in a field might come to differing conclusions about anything where judgement is involved. We don't usually expect it to be the case in other areas of life.

      2. elip

        Re: Think who this is targeting

        His statements also align with most of the stances of the Nordic countries.

    4. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Think who this is targeting

      It's irrelavant. The what, why and who is not interesting. If PayPal doesn't want to do business with individuals or corporations, close the accounts. Send the money back to them and close the accounts. It's dangerous precedent to say that it's fine to take someone's money (without due process!) because at the present time, you disagree with their statements. It makes them extremely untrustworthy, because they could take that stance on any subject at any given moment.

      Post a bad review of PayPal on Trustpilot? That'll be £100, thanks.

    5. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Think who this is targeting

      "I think this was Paypal's way of trying to prevent sites and organisations using the service to receive payments and raise funds, while promoting causes with which Paypal disagrees."

      You are contradicting yourself. If their intended target wasn't both sides of the transactions, they sure didn't write the penalty clause narrow enough to miss the bystanders. If they don't like what a merchant is selling or a group is collecting for, they aren't going to be much for the people sending them money. I'm not going to risk my money using a payment service that might suddenly lock my account and bill me a penalty when I purchase something that's completely legal to own and trade. Something that I might not realize they don't like. One week they could find pet rocks racist and there would go my rent money (metaphorically since I own my home).

  5. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    Stopped using Paypal years ago after they allowed fraud

    Used to use paypal a lot, especially for buying things from overseas so as not to give out CC information.

    Had lots of items that failed to ever show up, and had refunds from all of them...

    Then I made the mistake of ordering something a little larger and more expensive from ali-express.... arrived missing a load of parts. Seller refused to respond. Ali-express dealt with the issue by ordering the seller to refund me... seller ignored them.

    Submitted to paypal, provided all of the info from ali-express proving they found in my favour... Paypal instead listened to the lies of the seller and found in their favour.

    I ended up doing a chargeback through my bank to recover the funds... paypal put my account into a -£££ state and suspend it... Start making demands of the money... I tell them to shove it.

    Not heard from them since, refuse to use paypal ever again... and once I make a stand like that on something. I never back down. I still hold grudges against companies from 20yrs ago and will never give them a penny of my money ever again... nVidia, Bensons for Beds, Ebuyer, EA, Ubisoft to name just a few.... all of them are worthless companies... and because of their shitty attitudes and basic failures to deal with problems they caused... It's cost them 100 times more in lost sales than it would have if they just fixed their fuck ups.

    Currently having to deal with Eon and AA Insurance over basic uselessness and ineptitude... Eon have basically stolen over £800 from us, complaint filed and currently being ignored. Whilst the AA are failing to fix an emergency repair that they agreed to fix, sent out an engineer to secure and are now failing to authorise the actual repair and they can't even answer a phone... Seriously... I spent 80 mins on hold to them just yesterday and they fuckers went home and left me on hold... 3.55hrs on hold so far and I've spoken to 2 people and one of those for about 30 seconds who 'transferred' me to some one else who never picked up.

    But hey... at least they 'have' a number you can call... unlike paypal who make it even more impossible to deal with issues.

    Fuck em... fuck em all.

    1. Lis

      Re: Stopped using Paypal years ago after they allowed fraud

      Paypal do have a telephone number. It is on the "contact us" page. Though, am assuming you are in the U.K. going by your spelling.

      https://www.paypal.com/UK/smarthelp/contact-us

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Re: Stopped using Paypal years ago after they allowed fraud

        I've spoken to PayPal several times on the telephone - both as a buyer, and as a seller (from when it was affiliated with eBay). I'm in the UK, so they have a phone line here, too.

        I haven't had to use it recently, and in almost 20 years I've only done so a handful of times at most (including using their Resolution Centre), but a quick look just now shows that they - unusually for the big companies, such as Amazon, with whom it is almost impossible to speak to anyone directly unless you really, really dig deep - have a clearly listed number (including a freephone number). Whenever I have used it, it is answered very quickly.

        Obviously, others have had bad experiences, but PayPal has always found in my favour if something hasn't turned up and the seller is not responding. In fact, the most recent example was via the Resolution Centre, where I had ordered a Curry Leaf plant (yes, a Curry Leaf plant and not what you're probably thinking) from a seller in the Netherlands. It was during the very hot weather in July, and it got caught up in Customs for weeks, and there was no way it would be alive if it got here. I eventually (over a month later) got a letter from Defra telling me it had been destroyed because it didn't have the necessary certification for plants from overseas. I bet it caught fire quite quickly, given how dry it would have been by then.

        The seller had repeatedly ignored me, but when I involved PayPal they quickly replied and refunded me.

  6. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

    The simple reality is that Paypal face financial liability for letting scammers use the platform to sell woo. They have worded the clause in a way that has the alt-right up in arms, so have probably got it bang on.

    Make no mistake, this is targeted at Alex Jones-style conmen. It is required by law. Perhaps they've cocked up the wording, but the intent is clearly to comply with the relevant legislation.

    1. Trigun Silver badge

      They haven't just targeted Alex Jones type people, as recent weeks have shown.

      As for Alex Jones: You can like him or you can hate him, but he deserves legal due process (just like you and I), not to have funds "taken" by PayPal. There's a greater principle here.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        There is still legal process. PayPal are subject to regulations requiring them to take various actions.

        There's a good reason Jones had to sell his penis pills by devious routes - no mainstream financial org could do business with him 2ithout ending up slapped with huge fines.

        1. cornetman Silver badge

          > There's a good reason Jones had to sell his penis pills by devious routes - no mainstream financial org could do business with him 2ithout ending up slapped with huge fines.

          How would Paypal know that Alex Jones was doing something that was illegal? He certainly has a dodgy reputation and many people don't like his politics. However, what mechanism would Paypal use to determine if what he was doing was actionable? Twitter hate volume? Number of dislikes on his Youtube videos?

          If he is hawking pills and making outrageous claims about them that he cannot substantiate, then I would image that the police would be getting involved.

        2. Piro Silver badge

          You're missing the point. Who gives a toss about "Alex Jones"? The point is whether you think it's OK a business, at a whim, for broad and poorly defined reasons, without any due process through a court, can indefinitely withhold an arbitrary amount of money. I don't think that sounds reasonable.

  7. aerogems Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Probably was a mistake

    You ever look around where you work and wonder how the company stays in business because so many people don't seem to know what they're doing? It's not just where you work.

    So imagine some poor low-paid and overworked staffer, probably a secretary/PA, who is told to send the approved draft over to the person who will feed it into the back end system that runs the website. This person then attaches the wrong file to the email, like a draft that was rejected by legal that contains a clause saying people could be "fined" by PayPal, and the recipient just blindly copies and pastes the entire thing into the website back end. No one thinks twice about it until a little while later someone actually bothers to read the updated ToS and then decides to ask someone about it, triggering the Rube Goldberg process that results in someone realizing that the wrong draft text was uploaded. They quickly change it and hope most people don't notice the mistake--obviously in vain this time around.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Probably was a mistake

      I do like how many people are coming up with "innocent explanations" to defend a company that is somewhat notorious for holding on to other people's money for tenuous reasons.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Probably was a mistake

        Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice what could be adequately explained by stupidity.

        There are a lot of people who work at PayPal. Some of them good, some of them bad, most of them probably just trying to get through the day and collect a check at the end of the week. However, if you wanted to make an argument that wasn't basically just a conspiracy theory, you could have pointed out how, even in my scenario that draft text had to come from somewhere. Which, is absolutely true. We can't know what the intentions were of the person who came up with it, but odds are it was quickly shot down by the legal department for multiple reasons, so it doesn't really matter. The fact is shit like this happens every single day millions of times across the globe. Someone grabs the wrong file, someone else just blindly feeds it into another system, and it just snowballs until someone finally notices.

        Just today at work, I came across a scenario where some people were asking why a change hadn't been made. All evidence seemed to indicate that it HAD been made, over a year ago. Couple minutes of staring later, and I finally hit on the solution: someone had transposed two numbers. Instead of XX4325-07223 they put XX4325-02723. Multiple people had missed that little cockup for about the last year and a half until it finally caused a problem for someone resulting in it landing in my lap. The person who kicked it over to me, once I told them the solution, said "I should have seen that!" The person who made the mistake wasn't doing it out of any kind of malice (I assume) it was just one of those very easy to make mistakes.

        Maybe the person who came up with that draft had good intentions, maybe they didn't, we don't know. So, immediately assuming that it was the work of some shadowy cabal of nefarious ne'er do wells within the company is a bit of a stretch given the info we have to work with. It's a possibility, but an unlikely one.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Probably was a mistake

          Hanlon's razor works perfectly well when applied to individuals or very small groups. When applied to large corporations it simply doesn't work. One must simply assume that in the chain of events of "the thing" happening SOMEONE must have been competent enough to spot the problem. It is very very likely for a singular individual to do a stupid and make a mistake without forethought or malice, it becomes much harder to excuse such things when applied to a long chain of individuals ALL of whom must be idiots for it to happen. The pattern for Paypal simply leans way too far towards this being a repeating pattern of actions by a corporation that deems they own the funds until they deign to grant your request to please have your money. When dealing with large corporations like Paypal, malice and forethought must always be considered, possibly even assumed.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Probably was a mistake

      "and the recipient just blindly copies and pastes the entire thing into the website back end."

      That's a big flashing warning sign that there are big very fundamental problems if that's the case. Terms and Conditions statements from a large company such as PayPal are a major process. It's not some marketing fluff being added to a page 4 layers down than only needs a department head sign off to go live. T&C's are a legal statement and part of the contract the company has with customers and users. They aren't something a summer intern is going to be messing with.

  8. john.w

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

    "various US Republicans who resent having provocative content moderated"

    This would no doubt be because Democrats never say anything provocative and would never be moderated by big tech because they inhabit the moral high ground that only they can occupy.

    1. elip

      Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

      I found the weird slant in the article pretty confusing. Random mentions of unrelated Elon Musk tweets, adjectives where adjectives weren't necessary, etc. Hmmm.

      1. aerogems Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

        I find your use of the word "slant" to be highly suspicious! And you used the word "adjectives" twice. Very suspect!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tech firms are trying to make their own laws

    The tech firms are trying to be like mini states, creating their own "laws" which if you break, you will be fined.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Tech firms are trying to make their own laws

      Many years ago, I recall that the original terms and conditions for people using the MicroSoft Network included a clause that everything sent over the network became the legal property of MicroSoft. So any photograph, email, manuscript, poem, fiction etc. was immediately copyright someone else. Caused a bit of a stir at the time, and was subsequently removed.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Tech firms are trying to make their own laws

        "So any photograph, email, manuscript, poem, fiction etc. was immediately copyright someone else. Caused a bit of a stir at the time, and was subsequently removed."

        That's pretty much what the social media sites do. They can't claim the Copyright since that requires specific forms and signatures, but instead, they claim unlimited rights to the material except for exclusivity. If you post something on your InstaPintaTwitFace account, you grant them an unlimited and perpetual license to use and resell same with no credit or payment to you. But, you still hold the Copyright so it's all ok. If you need something stronger than Ambien, spend an evening trying to read the text you scrolled through to get to the "I accept" button. You can also search for the words "perpetual", "Worldwide", "Royalty" and "license". The word after "royalty" will be "free".

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Tech firms are trying to make their own laws

      Trying? Where have you been for the last 30 years?

  10. 43300 Bronze badge

    Who decides what "provide false, inaccurate or misleading information." means?

    In practice the past few years have shown us that it's often "fact checkers" who decide - and they are frequently compromised by their funding sources and other influences. Hence we have seen time and again the ridiculous situation of highly-credentialed experts having their research or informed opinion censored as "misinformation" on the basis of a judgement by some anonymous "fact checker". The reality is that the question is not normally "Is this false", it is "does this conform to the prevailing orthodoxy / government-approved view on whatever it is?"

    Many on the left cheer it on because at the moment it's mostly those on the right who are being censored, but the howls of protest will soon start when the boot is on the other foot (and at some point, that will happen).

    Public discourse and scientific enquiry are in no way benfitted by censoring one side of a debate, and cases where censorship is reasonable are very few and far between.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      If you can't tell the difference between a fact and opinion, then no, you, specifically you, should not be pontificating.

      1. 43300 Bronze badge

        Where did I say they were the same thing? Ah yes, I didn't!

        We see cases of both actual hard research AND informed opinion being censored - neither should happen.

        I see we have three fans of censorship voting!

  11. karlkarl Silver badge

    "Seems pretty clear to me that the PayPal T&C fuss is just another in a very long series of incidents in which a company lets the lawyers write a ‘legal’ document without realizing it’s also a marketing document, and without checking to see if the lawyers have done something silly."

    Hmm; no I believe it is more than this. They were seeing how much they could get away with. Especially when they gave an exact fine amount and all that.

  12. IT Guy

    PayPal shows itself as PayBully

    It is time that people hold these tech companies accountable. If paypal wants customers, it needs to do better and not implement rules used to harshly control or even harm people. Okay paypal got caught and said it was a mistake which most folks know is bull, time to shape up paypal or be labled paybully.

  13. xyz123

    Paypal is already facing 10s of thousands of lawsuits across the world because they just "trapped" peoples paypal balance by shutting their account and refusing to say why.

    Now they've just exposed themselves as "we stole your money...screw you" by going even further. They may have shot themselves in both feet and the groin here.

    Massive backtracking as they are going to now lose BIG in so many of the lawsuits as people say "see? I did nothing wrong..they intended to deprive me of my money to keep it for themselves"

  14. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Under the Guise of "For the Good of the People"

    All the arguments suggesting/demanding various falsehood-promoting organizations (anti-vaxxers, etc.) be sanctioned in various ways are based on the proposition that people are too stupid and/or too illogical to discern truth from falsehood, and that it is a moral imperative to "protect" those people from their foolishness.

    Some, perhaps even many people are foolish. But that's no excuse for a self-selected elite to control what can and cannot be said or written. I don't hand censorship powers to any person or any organization, because there are none I trust with that power.

    "Power corrupts, and absolute power is really neat!"

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Under the Guise of "For the Good of the People"

      "All the arguments suggesting/demanding various falsehood-promoting organizations (anti-vaxxers"

      After one of the makers wanted to legally seal their testing results for 50 years via court order, questions should be asked. Are vaccines safe? Are ALL vaccines being made for Covid safe? Are ALL Covid vaccines safe for all people? If there are even some anecdotal reports of people with similar health backgrounds as you having issues after receiving a shot, maybe it's not a bad idea to hold off.

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    WTF?

    Just what in the squiring worm world was going on? None of this makes sense.

  16. Mobster

    Banks can do this all day long. Banks can freeze your accounts for any of a number of different types of suspicions they may have.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just theory.

    But the way the agreement is worded gives the company the theoretical leeway to seek damages from someone promoting falsehoods on a website implementing PayPal.

    It's less theoretical than that. If Paypal are linked to a customers bank account or credit card, or if a customer has money deposited with Paypal, or if a transaction in progress has money passing through Paypals fingers, Paypal can (and on some occasions does) take some money without going to court. The onus is then on the customer to open the court case.

    Paypal's stated logic is that they are stopping criminals from using Paypal as a dark bank. But if Paypal's logic is sometimes wrong, and somebody loses a few dollars, it may be not be worth it to the wronged to fight Paypal.

  18. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Seems odd

    Seems odd to me. What kind of misinformation could involve a Paypal account? I mean, when i've used paypal it's like I buy whatever from a store and paypal processes the payment. Are they going through the stores to check content or what?

    Anyway, I could see closing accounts for fraudulent stores (including fraudulently claiming quack remedies work for covid, I guess that could be considered misinformation but i'd call it fraud.) but I must agree fining them would be a tough thing to enforce.

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