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E-commerce companies are still processing payment transactions for extremists

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones speaks outside of the Dirksen building of Capitol Hill FILE. Sept. 5, 2018 AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
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In September, PayPal, the internet financial services giant, permanently banned right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars website for promoting hate.

A month earlier, Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify banned Jones, who helped spread conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks and the Sandy Hook school shooting. Twitter followed suit weeks later.

With each social platform giving way, Jones lost amplification for his message. But PayPal’s break with Jones was different. It was the first business-to-business e-commerce platform to block Infowars from making financial transactions—and generating direct revenue—from its own customers because the site had promoted “hate and discriminatory intolerance.” Now, Jones is suing PayPal over the ban.

Having taken a stance on Infowars, PayPal has waded into the moral debate on how much extremism a company should tolerate on its platform. And it isn’t alone. An analysis by The Logic shows that several companies—including WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Stripe and Canada’s own Shopify—continue processing transactions for extremist or hate groups, as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC), a U.S.-based non-profit.

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