Friday, March 09, 2012

Chatter? WTFery from PayPal

So, PayPal has finally responded to the uproar (which it describes as "chatter") over its decision to censor certain forms of erotic fiction. The post, which appears on PayPal's blog, is so ridiculously condescending that I had to reproduce it here... with commentary.

PayPal’s acceptable use policy on sale of certain “erotica”

Yo, dude, what's with the quotes? It's erotica, not "erotica." It's not almost erotica. That would be the formulaic genre of fiction known as erotic romance. That's where some authors and vendors who want big sales from the explicit sex wrapped in a socially-acceptable relationship target their sales. You're not off to a very solid start. And why even include the word certain? I think you need one of those filters called an editor.

March 8, 2012
There’s been some chatter {You're just being cutesy, aren't you? Like how the Brits say the pond when referencing the Atlantic?} about PayPal’s decision to not allow the sale of certain “erotica” {Again with the quotes.} content using our service. Specifically, PayPal doesn’t allow our service to be used to sell content relating to rape, incest and bestiality. We’d like to set the record straight.

Here are the facts. Unlike many other online payment providers, PayPal does allow its service to be used for the sale of erotic books. {Exactly what other online payment providers disallow the sale of erotic books? I can't think of ANY, much less many.} PayPal is a strong and consistent supporter of openness on the Internet, freedom of expression, independent publishing and eBook marketplaces. {*cough* Bullshit. *cough* PayPal is, and always has been, a big bully. It freezes accounts and stonewalls dispute resolution. It passes judgment on what LEGAL content its customers can buy or sell.}  We believe that the Internet empowers authors in a way that is positive and points to an even brighter future for writers, artists and creators the world over, but we draw the line at certain adult content that is extreme or potentially illegal. {Excuse me? Potentially illegal? What happened to innocent until proven guilty, and precisely when did PayPal become a legal authority? If laws are being broken, the responsible thing to do is to report them to the authorities, not to take the law into your own hands.}

An important factor in our decision not to allow our payments service to be used to purchase material focused on rape, incest or bestiality is that this category of eBooks often includes images. {Your information is inaccurate, especially the use of the word often, and you would know this if you'd bothered to examine a fair sample of the work in question rather than using a nuclear warhead to kill a flea.} This type of content also sometimes intentionally blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction. {And you know this how? You're inside the author's head? You're equating first person point-of-view (a literary device, incidentally) with non-fiction? Are you trying to sound like an idiot?} Both these factors are problematic from a legal and risk perspective. {How? Seriously. How? Exactly what part of selling ebooks do you think is going to land PayPal in trouble with the legitimate legal authorities? Has James Patterson yet been arrested for murder? Was Heinlein ever charged for his incestuous fiction? Stephanie Meyer for pedophilia? Suzanne Collins for child abuse? Were ANY of the vendors or payment processors who enabled the sales of these books ever at risk of prosecution?}

So the business risk {Pffft!} associated with this content forms the basis for our policy, which has been in place for many years. Some feedback {Feedback. Is that the same as chatter?} we’re getting is a belief that PayPal is forcing its moral beliefs on others and restricting people’s right to free speech. {Free speech is a government construct. You're restricting people's choice, and you're insulting them in the process.} We can tell you with 100 percent conviction that this is not our intention. While we understand that people don’t always agree with our policies, this decision has nothing to do with our personal views on the content or any desire to limit free-speech rights. It has everything to do with running a sound business and complying with our legal responsibilities. {You have yet to detail precisely what laws are potentially being broken. It's fiction. Do you not understand the definition of the word?}

PayPal is a payments company. {And as such, it should not insert itself between buyer and seller. It should simply process the LEGAL transaction and get the hell out of the way.} The right to use PayPal’s service is not the same as the right to speak.

We have not shut down the e-book publishers {No, you've just cut off their supply of oxygen and caused massive loss of income and productivity over the last couple weeks as they scramble to adapt to draconian, inconsistent, and illogical policies.} and are working with the small number of affected merchants to come to a mutually agreeable solution that allows maximum freedom of expression, while protecting PayPal from the brand, regulatory and compliance risk associated with this type of content. {What risk? What regulation? Compliance with what? Laws and rules are typically written. So, show me.}

We hope that our customers enjoy the services and features that we work so hard to get right and understand that our policies are simply a way to conduct business in a fast-paced world.

We always welcome your feedback {Which is why you've censored all comments, eh? Yeah, that's welcoming. Hypocrite!} – but please know that we’ll continue to keep this policy in place as long as it protects our interests as a business.

–Anuj Nayar, Director of Communications, PayPal


Remittance Girl said...

I love you and I want to have your children. You're one of the smartest and funniest writers I know. And I'm fucking glad you're on MY side.

Alessia Brio said...

That comment alone made the time away from financially lucrative endeavors worthwhile. XOXO

P.A.Brown said...

I certainly (there's that word again) hope Paypal sees this. Open discussion my ass. Discussion is a back and forth thing, not people shouting into an abyss of emptiness hoping to be heard.
And you're right. I want Paypal to define what trouble they would face because of these fiction books being sold through.
Does their parent company vet every item they sell? They must know some, or perhaps a lot, of things sold by eBay and payed for through Paypal is stolen property. Stolen from a vendor someplace and being resold to purchase ILLEGAL drugs and even finance terrorist groups. (millions of dollars of merchandise is stolen every year by professional theft rings) How does Paypal feel about that?
I think most people would agree that guns meant to kill people, mainly law enforcement, are somehow as important, perhaps even more so, than words about tits and asses.

Violet said...

This post is so full of awesome. :)

Gillian Colbert said...

I'm with RG all the way. Beautifully said!

Alice Bluegown said...

Beautiful deconstruction. This was such a mealy-mouthed response, and the closing off of comments must have lain waste to half the irony meters on the planet - well done!