The Paypal Morality

Some of you are already aware that Paypal, the largest online independent financial transaction service, is now strong-arming has asked small, independent online bookstores to drop items that do not conform to Paypal’s list of acceptable content. Specifically, these would be be books that contain descriptions of sexuality having to do with incest (not my thing, but it’s pretty popular), bestiality (a problem for furries, werewolf fans, and shape-shifter sex), non-consensual sex (too bad for people with rape fantasies), and of course, BDSM. Because, you know, that’s just sick.

Some online book bloggers are framing this as a censorship issue, but they are mistaken. Censorship is when your government enforces policies on what can or can’t be published. This, rather, is a private company – a very large private company that controls most of the online transactions – so it’s not actually censorship.

At least, not yet, anyway.

Unfortunately, this is what happens when we, the consumers, go crazy for a free service that makes our lives easier, and then promote it into a very large service. There are alternatives to Paypal, and hopefully, in the wake of this even more will spring up. The problem is that, while large retailers can afford their own transaction processing and the higher fees for major credit cards, Paypal is designed for small resellers – a reason that it became so popular with the early Ebay users. In fact, Paypal became so popular that Ebay, themselves, purchased the company.

What amazes me, though, is that so many people seem to be taken by surprise at Paypal’s action. For years I have read stories on various blogs and web sites, and message boards about Paypal’s poor customer service, their penchant for holding money back in reserves, their tendency to deactivate accounts for little or no reason, and their ability to do all of this with impunity because they are not subject to the regulations of normal banks or other credit card companies.

Anyhow, the damage is done. Small online businesses have been going with Paypal because it’s fast, easy, and cheap (i.e., like most of my readers). But if there is enough backlash from interested consumers, maybe those businesses can set up accounts with other transaction companies. If you’re interested in discovering which other services are worth looking into, here’s a Lifehacker article from last July which highlights a few of them.

There are a lot of kinksters in the geek community… or maybe it’s a lot of geeks in the kinkster community. Either way, I urge all of you to think about the big, free online services that you use, and start thinking about alternatives to those services — either finding existing ones or developing new ones. This week it’s Paypal. Maybe next week, some large internet company might decide to do something crazy, like sell your online search history to marketers.

Naw, that probably wouldn’t happen. But still, let’s start looking now, before the “policy” of a private company actually does become censorship.

ETA: More — much more — outrage reading on this can be found on S.V. Rowle’s blog Erotica Book Banning Roundup.


And now, something that’s not BDSMy, incesty, or bestial:

Tumblr post (and links to more “Fetish Queen Heike”) is here.

~ by Tom Allen on March 2, 2012.

19 Responses to “The Paypal Morality”

  1. Now see, I think leather is ever so much nicer than latex
    (though obviously less animal rights-y, but we are eating the cows anyway… that is probably not a discussion we want to pursue, belay my last).

    As for paypal, I’m with you and the ever-wise Lifehacker, ditch the narrow-minded fuckers.

    UP THE REVOLUTION!

  2. Well Tom. Men can start their OWN similar sites. I am launching the Mens Business Association.

    http://www.mensbusinessassociation.com

    And one of the things we will have is a bank. A MAN bank.

    http://www.man-bank.com

    The MAN bank will be backed by a swiss bank and will enable men to transact business between each other using the idea of credits backed by “currency” in a bank or gold or silver. Up to the man as to what he will use as “money”.

    We are just forming this Association. The foundation documents are published on the site for anyone who wants to know about it.

    Time to fire the guvments.

    • Looks interesting, but it might be overkill for those of us who just want to be able to buy porn or other adult products online.

      • Tom, the MAN BANK is a good idea for many reasons. You know that if your wife divorces you, she can FREEZE your bank account and then steal your money from you? But if your money is in a 3rd party jurisdiction like Switzerland, she won’t be able to touch it.

        Having money in the bank has become very dangerous thanks to the feminists and man-haters.

        • John, as I said, it’s in interesting idea, and one that may have some merit. But again, it’s not a very practical replacement/alternative to Paypal if you want to buy or sell erotica or adult products.

      • Hi Tom,
        it will be one day not too far away. The MBA is going to be the platform for men to start businesses that are outside the jurisdiction of guvments. So if some man wants to start a business selling porn and uses the manbank as the payment mechanism then you can buy what you want with no interference from the guvment or third party organisations.

        The only law in MBA is do not cause injury, harm or loss to any other people and do not commit fraud in your contracts. Apart from that everyone will be free to buy and sell what they like. This will include prostitution I would expect. I am sure some man will want to open such a business once he knows that the guvment can not persecute him for it.

        John is also correct. The MBA will give men the ability to protect themselves in case wifey divorces him and tries to steal a great deal of his property.

        • Amzon for men… ;-) A place for men to buy and sell whatever they like.

          http://www.amanzon.biz

        • There’s an inherent irony in this. I mean, you know who the Amazons were, right? :)

        • Ah. A warm welcome to the women haters. Took a while and they had the rest of the inter web to play in but eventually, they found us

        • They aren’t anti-women, CQ. They are just pro-men.

        • Really, Tom?

          Is that how you personally classify their particular line of rhetoric?

        • Pro-men- as oppose to Pro-Domme which ofcourse would be an entirely different line of reasonIng again. Even if they did accept PayPal..,.

          Come off it Tom. This is absolutely your common or garden variety lady hate. Man banks in case of divorce? Luckily, men indulging in this type of bollocks tend to be a self selecting group for singledom anyway. If these guys hold these bitter n twisted views, it’s rather simple- don’t get married. That way, they can keep their money and one less woman in the world is married to a miserable bastard.

  3. Thanks for listing the link with PayPal alternatives. Definitely worth looking into.

  4. [...] 3rd: The Corporate Censorship of Erotica (Pegasus Pulp) The PayPal Morality (The Edge of [...]

  5. I’ve never heard much good about PayPal. I avoid them whenever possible. Only time I’ve used them in the past year was to buy my Steelheart.

  6. I wonder if they see the irony in the fact that they quash fictional descriptions of BDSM yet Locked Husband and others (me included) have used the service to buy very real BDSM implements from independent craftspeople and manufacturers.

  7. It’s the most dystopic Sci-Fi come to reality: It used to be a staple of Sci-Fi plots that in the future, large corporations will rule our lives- now ITS REALITY- we MUST resist! Don’t use PayPal for ANYTHING!
    If we let them get away with this, what next? How long before controversial books like ‘Origin of Species’ aren’t available? Everyone should be able to publish without let or hindrance.

    • Everyone should be able to publish without let or hindrance.

      Well, you can publish whatever you want. Nobody is stopping you from doing that. The issue is that once we allow those big corporate entities to grow into huge companies that provide the majority of our services, then it will become difficult to find alternative sources.

      There are alternatives to Paypal. They aren’t widely known, but that’s because up until n ow, it probably hasn’t been important enough for people to think about.

  8. [...] The Paypal Morality (vanillaedge.wordpress.com) [...]

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