PayPal Holdings Inc. today said it is not going to fine people $2,500 for promoting misinformation, just days after it said it would.
Last Friday, it was reported that the company would hit people with a fine if they were found to have promoted some kind of “misinformation” that may “present a risk to user safety or wellbeing.” The company said this was part of expanding its “prohibited activities” policy. PayPal told its customers that the cash would be “debited directly from your PayPal account.”
Users of the platform quite reasonably are expected to not give way to “the promotion of hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory,” but it’s the misinformation fine that rankled some people, including David Marcus, who was the president of PayPal from 2012 to 2014.
“It’s hard for me to openly criticize a company I used to love and gave so much to,” Marcus tweeted. “But @PayPal’s new AUP goes against everything I believe in. A private company now gets to decide to take your money if you say something they disagree with. Insanity.” PayPal co-founder Elon Musk replied, “Agreed.”
PayPal’s share price immediately took a hit, while many parts of the public were asking if this could turn out to be a form of censorship in regard to PayPal laying down the law over matters when it is not always clear what the truth is. Would people not even join the debate, fearing the fine levied by PayPal? One U.S. politician decried the move, saying it was in line with Orwellian “thought police.”
It didn’t matter because, in what can only be described as an ironic twist, PayPal said the news about the fine itself had been misinformation. It was real enough at the time, but it seems, ahem, after the backlash, PayPal said it hadn’t meant to say that was now part of its policy.
“An AUP notice for the U.S. recently went out in error that included incorrect information,” said the company. “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.”