By Matt Taibbi
A series of moves against media outlets by PayPal shows the next step in speech control: confiscation. Why won’t the company answer questions?
In the last week or so, the online payment platform PayPal without explanation suspended the accounts of a series of individual journalists and media outlets, including the well-known alt sites Consortium News and MintPress. Each received a variation of the following message:
Unlike many on the list, Consortium editor Joe Lauria succeeded in reaching a human being at the company in search of details about the frozen or “held” funds referenced in the note. The PayPal rep told him that if the company decided “there was a violation” after a half-year review period, then “it is possible” PayPal would keep the $9,348.14 remaining in Consortium’s account, as “damages.”
“A secretive process in which they could award themselves damages, not by a judge or a jury,” Lauria says. “Totally in secret.”
Consortium, founded by the late investigative reporter Robert Parry, has been critical of NATO and the Pentagon and a consistent source of skeptical reporting about Russiagate, as well as one of just a few outlets to regularly cover the Julian Assange case with any sympathy for the accused. Ironically, one of the site’s primary themes involves exploring disinformation emanating from the intelligence community. The site has had content disrupted by platforms like Facebook before, but now its pockets are being picked in addition.