Several independent news outlets and journalists have already had their PayPal accounts canceled at the last minute and their funds frozen by the company for unspecified offenses in the last few days. These publications also occurred to have differed from official orthodoxy on the Ukraine war in significant ways. Since the Russian invasion, the West has implemented a succession of harsh, wartime-like information-control procedures. According to recent reports, the trend is deteriorating dramatically.
Consortium News, founded in 1995 as being one of the web’s very first independent, reader-funded news outlets by the late Associated Press investigative icon Robert Parry, announced over the week that PayPal had “permanently limited” its account just as it was commencing its Spring Fund Drive.
According to editor-in-chief Joe Lauria — a former longtime United Nations correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and others — the company said it would keep the thousands of dollars gathered in the outlet’s account for 180 days and held in trust the right to seize the money completely to pay for unspecified “damages.”
According to Lauria, neither PayPal’s initial email nor a follow-up conversation with a customer support agent informed Consortium News that they were at risk of censure or provided a justification for it. The back office of PayPal did not provide a cause for the action, and there was no existing case against the retailer. Lauria stated that he was informed of the move by a customer service representative, who simply mentioned that analysis and evaluation discovered some potential danger related to this account.
In this case, PayPal’s net extended beyond the organization and included one of its journalists, with senior staff writer Alan MacLeod’s personal account being canceled at the same time. PayPal informed him that it had discovered “activity in your account that is inconsistent with our User Agreement,” which he describes as “patently absurd” given that the last time he used PayPal was to purchase a £5 Christmas gift in December.
Both MacLeod and Adley believe they were fortunate to remove funds before the cancellations, but the loss will have long-term consequences. According to Adley, MintPress was earning around $1,000 per month from users’ membership contributions through the service, while MacLeod warns that it could jeopardize his ability to get rewarded for future reporting.
MintPress, like Consortium News, has been critical of US policy toward the Ukraine incursion. MacLeod has recently produced articles investigating the newly founded and popular in the West Kyiv Independent, exposing TikTok’s hiring of numerous NATO and other national security professionals for prominent positions, and, strangely, criticizing online censorship attempts related to the war.