PayPal Shuts Down Mobile Payments for Tommy Robinson

November 14, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Tommy Robinson is a fairly controversial figure in UK journalism. Recently, corporate watchdog and “global advocacy group” SumOfUs put together a petition calling on PayPal to cease processing payments for Thompson, and based on word SumOfUs sent our way, PayPal did just that.

SumOfUs gathered over 64,700 names on a petition calling on PayPal to shutter Thompson’s payments portal, citing violations of PayPal’s own acceptable use policies. Since said policies include “the promotion of hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory,” and SumOfUs regarded Thompson’s breed of reportage as exactly that, SumOfUs put pressure on PayPal to shut Thompson down.

Robinson noted that PayPal gave him no reason for the shutdown, and PayPal itself noted that any money currently held with PayPal would be held back for 180 days, after which he would be provided with instructions on how to access what’s currently in his PayPal balance.

Robinson’s reportage and commentary are entirely donation-supported, and without PayPal to support donations, Robinson instead turned to bitcoin.

SumOfUs campaigns manager Tom Barns noted “…Hate crimes are on the rise across the UK and Europe, and fascists like Tommy Robinson need money to spread their message of hate. PayPal has listened to its customers in stopping these payments. Other payment processors should take note – they can’t hide behind a veneer of neutrality while quietly acting as corporate sponsors for fascists like Tommy Robinson”. Interestingly, Robinson also used the term “fascists” in describing PayPal management in a post on Facebook.

It’s likely going to be unnerving for many to discover that their PayPal access could potentially be shut down by 64,700 or so signatures. Yet who loses in all this? Not Tommy, really; he’ll have his cash back in six months and until then he’ll have bitcoin to pick up the slack. Not SumOfUs, who now has bragging rights that it “took down” Robinson, if only temporarily. It looks like the loser here is PayPal, who just lost a slug of income from processing Robinson’s donation payments and won’t make much if any of that up with SumOfUs’ business.

Of course, if it hadn’t, it might have lost the business of 64,700 signatories, which may have added up to an even worse loss. Either way, PayPal wasn’t coming out ahead on this one.