PayPal says it is not fining users for misinformation

11 Oct 2022

Image: © Jirapong/Stock.adobe.com

A policy update stated customers could have to pay $2,500 in damages for misinformation. PayPal has said this was sent in error.

Online payment services company PayPal has assured customers that it will not fine them for misinformation following backlash over a recent policy update.

According to several reports, the new acceptable use policy said customers must not use PayPal to send any messages, content or materials that promote misinformation. It included a potential penalty of $2,500 for each violation and was due to kick in on 3 November.

In a statement published by The Washington Post, a PayPal spokesperson said the notice “included incorrect information related to company policy”.

“PayPal is not fining people for misinformation and this language was never intended to be inserted in our policy. Our teams have made appropriate updates to correct these inaccuracies and we apologise for any confusion this has caused.”

PayPal’s clarification was earlier reported by Bloomberg News.

The company’s shares dropped by around 5pc after the policy update was first reported. It drew criticism from several prominent figures including PayPal’s former president David Marcus and Tesla boss Elon Musk.

In a tweet, Marcus said PayPal’s new acceptable use policy “goes against everything I believe in”.

“A private company now gets to decide to take your money if you say something they disagree with.”

While the payments platform said it will not be fining users for sending misinformation, many other major tech companies have been looking for ways to fight fake news.

Software giant Adobe has been working on ways to help users identify the full history of digital content to deal with the spread of visual misinformation online.

In a study published in August, Google teamed up with researchers to curb the proliferation of misinformation and conspiracy theories on YouTube by creating short videos that help viewers identify common markers.

And last year, Twitter launched its Birdwatch feature, which allows users to flag tweets that they believe contain false information. Following recent expansion of the feature, Twitter announced yesterday (10 October) that notes from its fact-checkers will now be visible to all users in the US.

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Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com