Did Last Week’s Outrage over Paypal Censorship Actually Accomplish Anything?
It’s late on a Sunday afternoon and I’ve been looking at all the news coverage about Paypal’s decision to censor Smashwords. I was all set today to post another diatribe on the topic, but then I looked at what we’ve accomplished so far.
Not too damn much, so far as I can tell.
Nine days ago Mark Coker of Smashwords sent out an email warning Smashwords' authors and publisher partners that they (immediately) had to sort through their uploaded ebooks and remove the ones that fell into certain categories of erotica.
You see, Paypal had issued an ultimatum. They no longer wanted their computers to be sullied by transferring the funds to pay for the erotica, so they threatened to cut off Smashwords if the content wasn’t removed. Naturally this caused a lot of debate, shouting, and even a little name calling in past the nine days. But it doesn’t seem to have done much else.
So, what has changed? So far as I can tell, nothing.Well, Paypal did indicate that they might loosen the ban, but the emphasis is on the word might. Also, they haven’t done it yet.
Has anyone closed their Paypal account in protest? Has Paypal changed its policy? Has anyone even changed their minds on the issue?
I’ll be honest: my account at Paypal is still open. I’ve been wanting to get away from them for some years now, but I cannot. There have been too many different times where Paypal was the most convenient way to exchange funds. In fact, I’d say an account with Paypal has grown to be as important as having a bank account and a credit card (my CC is tied to my bank account, but still). While you can live without these things, but it’s going to be a sheltered life. And that is the real issue at stake.
It’s like the only gas station in town won’t sell you gas because of the books you sell. Or it’s like the only paper supplier won’t deal with you because of what you’re going to print on it. No one should have that much power, but we let it happen time and again.
Yes, you can go out of town and use other services, but the monopolists know that few will bother trying to thwart their will, so they act with impunity.
Do you know what? I’m closing my Paypal account in protest. Someone has to.