It’s about to get a good deal tougher for white supremacist groups to fundraise and plan activities, as pressure grows on companies to kick hate groups off of their solutions.
is cutting ties with hate-group sites, the company said Wednesday, amid growing pressure on financial services to ensure white supremacist groups do not use their sites for funding. “Discover is committed to diversity and inclusion,” a spokesman told MarketWatch. “The intolerant and racist views of hate groups are inconsistent with our beliefs and practices.” Visa, the world’s largest processor of credit card payments, also stopped prohibited processing payments for hate groups, the New York Post reported. Apple Pay additionally told Buzzfeed it was terminating support for sites that sold white supremacist items and clothing Nazi memorabilia.
Earlier Wednesday, a spokesman for Mastercard said the company didn’t prohibit the acceptance of Mastercard-branded payments from merchants based on debate, but has since updated that announcement. “We have reviewed a comprehensive list of websites provided by civic leaders and others,” he told MarketWatch. “We’re shutting down the use of our cards on sites that we think incite violence, as well as those that are wrongfully suggesting they accept our cards, when actually they don’t.”
These moves come after PayPal
announced Tuesday it’d take extra steps in light of the events in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend to ensure its stage is not used to accept payments or contributions related to hate, violence, or racial intolerance. “We are dedicated to providing financial services to individuals with a diversity of views and from all walks of life,” PayPal said in a statement. In July, Gizmodo reported that Airbnb prohibited users from booking rooms on its support for events such as Unite the Right, the rally held in Charlotteville.
Earlier this week, GoDaddy eliminated neo-Nazi sympathizing website the Daily Stormer from its list of domains for slandering the 32-year-old woman killed at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Saturday. The site had violated GoDaddy’s terms of service that prohibit “inciting violence against a group or an individual, GoDaddy chief executive officer Blake Irving said. Google afterwards did the same to the site after it tried to migrate there.
“We always have to ride the fence on making sure we’re protecting a free and open net,” Irving said. “And regardless of whether speech is hateful, bigoted, racist, ignorant, tasteless, in many cases we will still keep up that content because we don’t need to become a censor and First Amendment rights matter not just in speech but on the world wide web also. But when the line gets crossed, then speech begins to incite violence, then we have a duty to take that down.”
On Wednesday, Color Of Change — an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit progressive civil rights organization formed after Hurricane Katrina — applauded the changes from PayPal and continued to pressure more firms to make an impression by withdrawing their financial solutions for white supremacist groups. Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color Of Change, called on Visa,
and American Express,
to withdraw services for white supremacist groups.
“White supremacists need money to cover events such as ‘Unite the Right’ and to keep propaganda sites likes those that motivated terrorists Dylann Roof and Timothy McVeigh,” Robinson said. “For months, we’ve been urging these firms to do the right thing and stop providing financial services for white supremacist groups.” Roof was convicted of committing the Charleston Church shooting in 2015. In 2001, McVeigh was executed for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. (American Express and Visa didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.)
Given the heightened emotions surrounding recent events, more companies will likely withdraw their support for these white supremacist groups in an effort to starve them of money and their ability to appeal to disaffected or vulnerable Americans online, said Ted Marzilli, chief executive officer of YouGov BrandIndex, a measure of brand perception among the public. As more companies ban such action from their solutions, the risk a brand faces from doing nothing will outweigh the loss in business from pulling customers, ” he said.
And the ban is spreading beyond financial firms: Music-streaming app Spotify is eliminating “white power” paths from its stage and website-builder Squarespace has kicked off many white nationalist groups from its service. White supremacists are even being banned from dating programs: On Thursday, OkCupid reportedly banned one prominent activist from the app after a female user realized the man who messaged her from a Vice News documentary on Charlottesville.
“Given that the toxicity of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, coupled with the scale and intensity of the current debate playing out on a national stage, the perception of guilt by association may be quite detrimental to a company,” Marzilli added. PayPal and GoDaddy sent a positive and hopeful message into a public digesting the disturbing events of the past week. From time to time, the risk of backlash from the public for failing to take a stand is simply not worth it, Marzilli said. “Bombshell crises can sink a company’s perception for a lengthy time and full recovery can take years,” he said.