PayPal is terminating its relationship with Alex Jones and his website, Infowars, the online payment service said Friday.
PayPal notified Infowars of the decision Thursday, prompting the site to accuse PayPal in a blog post of a “political ploy designed to financially sabotage an influential media outlet.” Infowars said PayPal had given it 10 days to find a new payment platform, after which PayPal’s services would no longer function.
PayPal declined to cite specific examples of Infowars’s problematic behavior. But Infowars has gained increasing attention — and criticism — for its role in spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation online. PayPal’s decision Friday makes it the latest tech company to ban Jones and his content from its platform, following in the footsteps of Apple, Facebook and Google, among others.
Last month, Jones’s podcasts were removed from iTunes after Apple said it did not tolerate hate speech. YouTube soon took similar enforcement steps against Infowars, saying Jones had “repeatedly” violated its terms of service. Although Twitter initially resisted banning Jones, it, too, removed him from its platform earlier this month with a permanent suspension.
Twitter’s decision came hours after Jones appeared at a high-profile congressional hearing involving Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. During the event, Jones was recorded heckling journalists and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Afterward, Jones tried to confront Dorsey as he was exiting the Senate office building where the hearing was held.
PayPal’s decision to remove Jones hits him where it will probably hurt his business the most: his wallet.
Research by Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism has found that Jones has been successful at turning his headlines into e-commerce revenue. Revenue could dry up without an online payment processor.
Last month, roughly 1.15 million visitors logged onto Jones’s online storefront, Infowarsstore.com, Jonathan Albright, the Tow Center’s research director, told The Post’s Craig Timberg in a recent interview. Of those, more than 60 percent went to PayPal after visiting his digital shop, implying that Jones is effective at converting visitors into paying customers.
Having learned of the impending ban, supporters of Infowars began urging the site to accept cryptocurrency such as bitcoin.