(Spiegel – 25 November 2019) Translated from German using DeepL

PayPal no longer processes donations to the extreme right-wing association Pro Chemnitz, which is monitored by the Saxonian Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Anyone who tries to do so via the Pro Chemnitz website will end up on a PayPal page which says: “The recipient is currently unable to receive money”. According to PayPal’s usage policy, the service may not be used for activities that have to do with “promoting hate, violence, racist or otherwise motivated intolerance that discriminates against others”. The fact that Pro Chemnitz falls into this category is already revealed by looking at the assessment of the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution of January 2019: “Members of Pro Chemnitz have been spreading recognisably extreme right-wing content since the homicide in Chemnitz at the end of August”, it says with reference to 26 August 2018, when a German was stabbed to death in the outskirts of the Chemnitz city festival. And it continues: “In doing so, they justified extreme right-wing propaganda and violent crimes and since then have tried to present them as legitimate.

An inquiry of the SPIEGEL to PayPal, as to why the decision was made just now, was not answered by the company with reference to the banking secrecy to which it was bound. However, a written statement by the company stated that a team of experts “regularly reviews questionable activities in accordance with the PayPal Usage Policy” and “also follows up on information reported to the company. Because we place great importance on thorough and diligent review, this review may take a long time, depending on the individual case.

“No one here will talk to you”

This had been preceded by a campaign by SumOfUs that lasted for months and accused the payment service provider of supporting neo-Nazis. PayPal had initially fobbed off the campaign with standard e-mails and had recently even reported it to the police. Last Wednesday, activists of SumOfUs wanted to hand over more than 100,000 signatures to PayPal and had put up a billboard in front of the PayPal site in the south of Berlin. It read: “Donations for neo-Nazis? Very simple – with PayPal”. The company then filed a criminal complaint for “slander” and the unauthorized use of the PayPal logo, as reported by Netzpolitik.org.

Christian Bock of SumOfUs told SPIEGEL that at the entrance of the building he was told: “Nobody here will talk to you”. So the handing over of the signatures failed. Nevertheless PayPal pulled the plug on Pro Chemnitz afterwards. For Bock it is “a direct result of the campaign” and therefore a success.

SumOfUs had already put pressure on PayPal twice to make the company change something: in 2017 it was about stopping an action of the Identitarian Movement, which had collected money via PayPal. In 2018, PayPal banned British extreme right-winger Tommy Robinson from its services.

Lack of understanding for PayPal’s communication strategy

Nevertheless Bock wishes “that such a campaign will no longer be needed in the future”. To achieve this, however, PayPal would have to enforce its own terms of use more consistently.

The campaigns started by SumOfUs:

PayPal: Stop helping fund neo-Nazis!

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