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BitChute, YouTube alternative, cries foul over apparent punt from PayPal

November 14, 2018

BitChute, a video hosting service touted as an alternative to YouTube, accused PayPal of censorship on Wednesday in light of allegedly joining Alex Jones, The Proud Boys and anti-fascist groups in being abruptly punted from the payment processing service.

In a statement, BitChute founder Ray Vahey said that he was notified by PayPal that he can no longer use the video service’s account to accept or send funds, effective immediately.

“BitChute has had a Paypal account since 2016, we have used it to settle payments and to receive subscription payments from supporters along with other discretionary payments,” said Mr. Vahey. “It’s our belief that it is our stand against the current trend in censorship that has resulted in this action.”

PayPal did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Launched in Jan. 2017, Mr. Vahey said at the time that BitChute was the product of “increased levels of censorship by the large social media platforms,” such as banning users, demonetizing their videos and “tweaking algorithms to send certain content into obscurity.”

Nearly two years later, BitChute has become host to users banned in the interim by YouTube, including Mr. Jones, a right-wing media personality and talk show host responsible for the controversial Infowars website.

Banned in August from YouTube, among other platforms, Infowars has found a home on BitChute, and a receptive audience to boot. Infowars has uploaded 3,818 videos to BitChute since launching its channel on the platform less than nine months ago, gaining over 28,900 subscribers and garnering more than 1.4 million views.

Among the top videos trending on BitChute the day of its apparent removal from PayPal included Tuesday’s footage from Mr. Jones’ syndicated radio program, the Alex Jones Show, as well as a clip called “It’s Okay to be a Nationalist” and conspiratorial videos concerning both the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and last week’s mass-shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.

“BitChute is politically neutral and we have a diverse community in interests and backgrounds,” Mr. Vahey said Wednesday. “We require that users only upload legal content that complies with our terms and community guidelines. We carry out moderation to remove all content that breaches our terms and community guidelines, including but not limited to videos from terrorists, child abuse or pirated video.”

“BitChute is pro-free expression which is a universal human right,” he added. “Furthermore, censorship and deplatforming are poor ways to tackle societal problems as they merely create echo chambers that can lead to bigger problems in the long run. It’s important to platform all idea’s as this exposes them to immediate opposition and allows for a public deconstruction of any flaws they may contain. If you are against bigotry or racism or hateful ideologies, you should be pro-free expression.”

PayPal joined YouTube in banning both Mr. Jones and Infowars in the wake of their removal from major platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and last week the payment processor followed through in punting accounts connected to The Proud Boys, a far-right fraternal groups, in addition to British anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson and several anti-fascist, or antifa, users.

“We do not allow PayPal services to be used to promote hate, violence or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory,” PayPal said last week. “Striking the necessary balance between upholding free expression and open dialogue and protecting principles of tolerance, diversity and respect for all people is a challenge that many companies are grappling with today.”

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