Voat™, a media aggregator like Reddit, wants to be the place on the Internet where you can “have your say™”. But that might not be possible if PayPal has its way. PayPal informed Voat administrators that their account had been “limited,” and their funds were frozen. The site, entirely funded by user donation, is distressed. The site creator Atif Colo posted in a stickied thread on the forum’s homepage:
The reason given was ‘Under the Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for certain sexually oriented materials or services or for items that could be considered obscene’. This is wrong/false on so many levels. We used PayPal only as a means to receive voluntary donations from people who wanted to support further development of Voat and to help pay for our hosting fees. This is beyond crazy.
PayPal can hold the site’s funds for up to 180 days. Colo has yet to receive a response from PayPal for further clarification despite reaching out to the payment service. “Whoever is putting this kind of pressure on Voat wants to see Voat disappear,” Colo told Motherboard. “The only reason we can see for this is because Voat is not censoring content unless [that] content is illegal. We would like to stress that we do not allow or endorse illegal content and we will remove such content when reported to us, as well as report offending users to authorities.”
Voat has been in the headlines in recent weeks, in particular after Reddit management shut down subreddits tied to the site. Many in Voat’s camp believe PayPal interrupted the site’s PayPal account over the site’s adherence to freedom of speech principles. Voat is like Reddit, nearly identical in appearance and functionality, with a focus on freedom of speech.
As the site states: “No legal subject in this universe should be out of bounds.” Users of the site are not happy over the recent perceived censorship by PayPal, and many users have pointed out that Reddit has a PayPal account which has been left alone despite plenty of controversial material being posted on that site. The site’s front page is now littered with unflattering news stories about PayPal, which has been under pressure from the online community in recent weeks. As CCN.com published, PayPal has remade its service terms to take control of users’ content. We wrote:
If you haven’t seen this, you should, and you should share this with your friends, family, anyone who used PayPal in connection with a website providing online content. On July 1st, 2015, Paypal will update it’s TOS agreement to take away any and all intellectual rights to any content you provide online. If you use Paypal to accept payments, they will attempt to take ownership of any online content you add to your business or website. Here is a key excerpt that basically starts the new PayPal TOS.
Voat has taken the PayPal option for donations off its website. The only means for donation at press time is Bitcoin.