PayPal Claims It Never Intended To Fine Users For “Misinformation”

PayPal said it had no intention fining customers for spreading misinformation, after attracting criticism for publishing a new user agreement outlining such a plan, Bloomberg reported.

According to Bloomberg, the issue gained traction over the weekend after the company published policy updates prohibiting users from using the PayPal service for activities identified by the company as “the sending, posting, or publication of any messages, content, or materials” promoting misinformation, in an Acceptable Use Policy due to kick in on Nov. 3. A penalty of $2,500 could be imposed for each violation, according to the update.

The notice included “incorrect information,” a spokesperson for PayPal said in a statement to Bloomberg News. “PayPal is not fining people for misinformation and this language was never intended to be inserted in our policy”.

Bloomberg also reported that PayPal’s shares tumbled as much as 5.3% to $85.43, the biggest intraday decline since July 26. They dropped 4.7% to $85.90 at 9:48 a.m. New York.

Gizmodo reported that PayPal was caught in a firestorm of conservative backlash over the weekend for daring it say it would not allow its services to be used to promote misinformation. Now, the company has walked everything back, and further claimed that policy was one big misunderstanding.

According to Gizmodo, several conservative outlets reported that PayPal had updated its Acceptable Use Policy with a notice that starting Nov. 3, the company’s prohibited activities would include “the sending, posting, or publication of any message, content, or materials” promoting disinformation and hate speech or otherwise causing harm. Those who violated the policy could have been hit with a $2,500 fine against their PayPal account, according to information detailed in the initial AUP changes.

PayPal retracted a the notice over the weekend, and in a statement to Gizmodo a company spokesperson wrote:

“An AUP notice for the U.S. 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. We’re sorry for the confusion this has caused.”

The thing I’m wondering about is what, exactly, happened over at PayPal? Was the messaging about imposing a $2,500 fine for each violation promoting misinformation really what PayPal intended? Did that wording get into the AUP due to a disgruntled writer, seeking some sort of revenge on the company? Was the proofreader on their day off?

This situation must be a costly and very embarrassing problem for PayPal to try and cope with. The company that actually posted about fining people for posting misinformation certainly appears to have posted misinformation themselves. The irony in trying to walk back their own misinformation is something.