PayPal Backs Down After Outpouring of Support for CN

PayPal has retreated after a deluge of support for Consortium News by unfreezing its funds and now saying unspecified steps must be taken to restore the “permanently” shut down account, Joe Lauria reports.


By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

PayPal has reversed its decision to withhold Consortium News‘ funds after a backlash from social media, news outlets and CN donors.

PayPal sent Consortium News an email on Tuesday night saying: “Your PayPal funds are now eligible for withdrawal.” CN immediately withdrew the funds.  PayPal gave no reasons for its reversal, as it had given no reasons for its initial action. The account remains shut down, though it appears no longer permanently, as PayPal is asking CN to take steps to restore it without saying what those steps are. 

PayPal initially said it had slapped a “permanent limitation” on Consortium News, adding explicitly: “You can’t use PayPal anymore. … We noticed activity in your account that’s inconsistent with our User Agreement and we no longer offer you PayPal services. … Because of potential risk exposure, we’ve permanently limited your account. You’ll no longer be able to use the account for any transactions.”

Among “restricted activities” in the User Agreement is a ban on providing “false, inaccurate or misleading information” to PayPal, other PayPal customers “or third parties.” Given the political climate it is reasonable to conclude that PayPal was reacting to Consortium News’ coverage of the war in Ukraine, which is not in line with the dominant narrative that is being increasingly enforced. If true, PayPal was allegedly seeking to limit Consortium News’ free speech by depriving it of one of its main vehicles for funding. 

A PayPal customer service agent had told CN that its funds could be kept for six months until a determination was made about what to do with them. “If there was a violation .. it is possible” CN‘s balance of $9,348.14 could be kept as “damages” to PayPal. That would mean awarding itself damages in a completely secret process.

PayPal apparently has also lifted the “permanent limitation” on CN‘s account. According to its User Agreement, PayPal says there are no steps that can be taken to reverse the permanent ban. (Click to enlarge).

But in the Tuesday night email PayPal said there were now steps Consortium News could take. “Access to your account will remain limited until you perform the steps required to lift the limitation.” However, it failed to specify what those steps are and still hasn’t identified what violations were committed to bring the ban in the first place. 

Strong Reaction

PayPal’s reversal comes after widespread support on social media for Consortium News and a flood of donations that sent a message to PayPal. CN received $25,354 in donations in the 48-hour period after it announced PayPal’s ban, with $15,632 coming on the first day. They are both record amounts, for which Consortium News is extremely grateful. (Please keep helping us reach our $60,000 Spring Fund Drive goal.)

Independent media reacted too, with an article by Matt Taibbi on Substack, one by Jacobin magazine and a report on DemocracyNow! The story also hit the mainstream in this segment on The Hills‘ show Rising, which also discuss MintPress News, which was also shut down, having its funding restored as well:

PayPal may well have reacted to the growing media coverage, as well as to the outrage generated on Twitter, with many people saying they were canceling their PayPal accounts.  Here were some of the reactions:


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Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

51 comments for “PayPal Backs Down After Outpouring of Support for CN

  1. robert e williamson jr
    May 6, 2022 at 16:23

    It’s about time we all started asking ourselves who needs this bullshit. A CUSTOMER gives his business to those he selects willfully. These guys pull this kind of stunt from no other position of power other than that customers give them, willingly. I don’t know about the rest of you folks but I’ve already had enough of this type of behavior from the super wealthy elitists. Be warned until they get publicly beat down they will not relent.

    I’m obviously writing this after pay pal unnecessarily protracted this incident by grandstanding on CN’s platform and barring them. Everyone needs to re-evaluate what they do with their money.

  2. roger noehren
    May 6, 2022 at 13:16

    Peter Thiel also had his proposed getaway resort in New Zealand turned down recently. He was able to obtain citizenship there after spending only 12 days in the country, because he intended to invest a lot of money there (which upset many New Zealanders).


  3. AnthraxSleuth
    May 5, 2022 at 17:53

    Why doesn’t CN accept crypto currencies?

  4. Eddie S
    May 5, 2022 at 17:36

    Good! As a financial contributor to CN since it’s inception, it seemed really ‘questionable’ to say the least that an organization that has a deserved, legitimate 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status like CN should be subject to this kind of financial harassment. It’s not like CN was/is peddling absurd, irresponsible theories like Alex Jones & friends claiming that the Sandy Hook mass shooting was a staged event and no one really died, or other groups plotting the violent overthrow of US government institutions, or even just fantasy theories about Flat Earth or lizard-people. While I support the free-speech rights of Alex Jones (as well as the legal rights of people to sue him for slander) and any non-domestic-violence-promoting viewpoints, I also believe those organizations are NOT deserving the 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status, because our society shouldn’t be subsidizing those activities/viewpoints. In those cases PayPal might(?) be justified in not servicing those organizations.
    I’m sure very few of us here in the US want to see our freedom of speech erode to the level of something like Japan’s, where you can be sued for saying negative things about someone even if they are TRUE, or even in Germany where you can be fined significant amounts for just calling someone a vulgar name.
    Though in the past I have always donated by check, a recent scam called ‘check washing’ — having happened to my alderwoman —- has made me wary of doing that (Google it and you’ll see what I mean), and I was coincidentally looking at enrolling in PayPal as a more secure way to donate. Now that too is sounding problematic. Might have to look at cashiers checks.

  5. May 5, 2022 at 16:41

    glad for you but never used this hustle in the past and will not in the future unless it is taken over democratically by its workers.

  6. Tobysgirl
    May 5, 2022 at 15:15

    The funder for Patrick Lancaster — on the ground in eastern Ukraine — also shut down his account, but I gave him a donation through BUY ME A COFFEE. I am familiar with them because many gender-critical people have been cancelled by funding sites — including having their online businesses shut down — and have gone to BMAC.

  7. Mark Thomason
    May 5, 2022 at 14:26

    Yesterday Consortium news website would not come up on my computer. I hope that was because so many new people were checking it out. I fear it was unavailable because the attack on it was working.

    I’d like to hear what happened.

  8. Al
    May 5, 2022 at 13:17

    Don’t re-open the account. Why would you? I for one will never use it again.

    • Maricata
      May 5, 2022 at 17:07

      Neither will I. Thiel, Musk and the Paypal mafia live off of money. Stop the money.

  9. Jim other
    May 5, 2022 at 13:10

    This reversal does not alleviate my concerns with Paypal. Who gave them the right to decide where my money goes? This action was political to say the least. In addition, they refuse to allow money to go to Julian Assange. I have used Paypal for years but I am closing my account.

  10. May 5, 2022 at 12:31

    No more PayPal for me. With Pals like that ….

    “When a deed is done for Freedom, through the broad earth’s aching breast
    Runs a thrill of joy prophetic, trembling on from east to west,
    And the slave, where’er he cowers, feels the soul within him climb
    To the awful verge of manhood, as the energy sublime
    Of a century bursts full-blossomed on the thorny stem of Time.

    Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
    One death-grapple in the darkness ‘twixt old systems and the Word;
    Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,—
    Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
    Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.”

  11. Jeff Davis
    May 5, 2022 at 12:01

    Elon and Peter Thiel created PayPal. They wrote the code. Perhaps Elon still has a copy of that code. So he doesn’t need to repurchase PayPal. Which would be mucho billions-of-dollars. No need. There’s a way to do it that is vastly less expensive and likely quite profitable. He can just tweak the first generation of PayPal code, tweak it just enough to avoid patent infringement, and then relaunch as an alternative payment method in support of free speech.

    Starlink Pay, maybe?

  12. AnthraxSleuth
    May 5, 2022 at 11:43

    Closed my Paypal account.
    Found it interesting that they did not ask why I was closing it.

  13. Piotr Berman
    May 5, 2022 at 11:43

    On one hand, this harassment is a bit expensive. I contributed to the defense of Craig Murray, and now I increased the planned contribution to CN. Hopefully, our reaction will caution PTB. On the bright side, I got disenchanted with Democrats to whom I contributed at some occasion — although in 2020, I contributed only to Gabbard and a senatorial candidate, now senator from Georgia.

    I started to anticipate an escalation, Wikileaks were banned by credit cards if I recall. Going after checks is harder, so I hope there will be no attempts, and I believe that we should gradually go back to checks. Global corporations take their cut in exchange for convenience, and they become dangerous.

  14. Me Myself
    May 5, 2022 at 11:31

    I closed my Paypal account as well, I was waiting for them to ask why they never did? I guess they already know.

  15. Daniel
    May 5, 2022 at 11:08

    Good news for CN but terrible news for all of us that our tech overlords believe they can cancel any one of us on a whim.

    PayPal has always been shady, and is now doing obviously shady things. Account cancelled moments ago. Gratefully planning my next donation to CN.

  16. May 5, 2022 at 11:00

    That’s it! I am finished with PayPal. I don’t really use it much anyway. Good riddance!

  17. LeoSun
    May 5, 2022 at 10:55

    A Colossal $core! PROPS to the many people in many places that took action. A ‘universal’ shifting of the gears, REVERSE, the Runaway train, on the wrong track! Virtue is powerful.

    “Food from the people you love is healing” i.e., “moral support, record amount donations received, w/n hours.“ Per the collective energy & the power of the people’s purse, CN, $prings Forward.

    “For the benefit of the flowers water the thorns, too.”

  18. Nick
    May 5, 2022 at 09:50

    I am proud to be one of the people who sent PayPal a message, letting them know they are thieves and that I will no longer be using their services. Emptied my account and closed it. I will use credit cards and checks from now on.

  19. Sharon
    May 5, 2022 at 09:32

    I compared PayPal’s actions to our government’s (USA) stealing foreign assets in my letter to them, my letter informing why I was closing my account.

  20. JonT
    May 5, 2022 at 09:21

    Intersting that Paypal say you cannot close your account? First thing to do! Perhaps they hope CN will stay with them, with conditions.

  21. chris
    May 5, 2022 at 05:53

    Screw those despicable, sanctimonious, cowardly, tyrant scumbag bastards at paypal!

  22. Henry Smith
    May 5, 2022 at 03:17

    Forewarned is forearmed. BDS PayPal.

  23. Scott
    May 5, 2022 at 01:15

    Joe offered to show PayPal Capo Dan Schulman a few Krav Maga moves of his own. Especially the one called Unanticipated Backdoor Delivery.

    Just close the account and forget about them. They are not your pals.

  24. MeMyself
    May 5, 2022 at 00:18

    PayPal showed its hand It can’t be trusted. I believe they know now that they just shot themselves in the foot!

    PS I currently have to use the TOR browser to view CN from my location in New York?

  25. dave
    May 4, 2022 at 22:38

    So you can’t close your account while it’s “limited”? Fuck that! What are they going to do? They’re already blocking you from receiving funds. Is there a monthly fee or something?

  26. Litchfield
    May 4, 2022 at 14:38

    Tijme to call a boycott on payPal. All supporters of free speech should withdraw their funds, put htem in a bank account, and vow never to use PayPal again

    There has to be a punishment and threat to all those who would shut down any free speech.

    This is outrageous.

    CN: Do NOT return to PayPal. You do not need them.

  27. D Zaxon
    May 4, 2022 at 13:58

    I closed my Paypal account and sent CN a donation. I’m glad PP released CN funds and hope CN never goes back to PP.

  28. Frank Lambert
    May 4, 2022 at 13:35

    I call ed Pay Pal yesterday about it and said I won’t be using them anymore because of what they did to CN and other sites.

    Will mail an old-fashioned check to Consortium News instead.

    Thanks Joe Lauria, the CN staff, the contributing writers, and fellow readers and supporters of this invaluable website!

  29. Oregoncharles
    May 4, 2022 at 13:35

    Perhaps they heard from their lawyers; seizing the balance would be the crime of theft, and at a felony level.

  30. Piotr Berman
    May 4, 2022 at 13:20

    Big companies provide attractive platforms, and in the case of “monetizing”, attractive revenue, but exactly because they are big, they are vulnerable in several ways.

    One aspect is that big companies can get anti-trust scrutiny. Even if toothless nowadays, it is an expensive bother, and avoiding it can be worth forgoing business from dozens of tiny customers (from revenue point of view).

    Second aspect is that the owners, directors etc. are from the “ruling class”, so even if not attentive to the threats to their class interests, they respond quickly if alerted by the government or para-government think tanks.

    Third aspect is that “genuine left” is numerically weak, would it have a Wikipedia entry like, say, Pallas cat, perhaps it would not get “Critically endangered” status, but at best, “Vulnerable”, and PTB wish to keep it that way.

    Looking forward: people thrown out from Starbucks for discussing issues at coffee tables in a manner that is not consistent with (not stated) company standards?

    • Maricata
      May 5, 2022 at 17:09

      This is Thiel. He is a fascist. He wants censorship.

      He exerts control.

      • Scott
        May 5, 2022 at 22:16

        Thiel no longer has anything to do with PayPal. Hasn’t for years.


  31. Tobin Sterritt
    May 4, 2022 at 12:46

    I am glad if this means that PayPal is responding to push-back. Still, I’ll be supporting CN through any other means available. PP’s problematic nature goes beyond the scope of this latest outrage and it can be repeated.

  32. John Graves
    May 4, 2022 at 12:36

    I immediately sent you a $100 check. This meddling with free speech and free press is intolerable! American banks and financial institutions are no longer a safe place for independent thinkers to put their money!

    “We are not going to try to control what our people read and say and think. We are not going to turn the United States into a right-wing totalitarian country…Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” ~ Harry Truman, a special message to Congress, 1950

  33. Ernest Martinson
    May 4, 2022 at 11:58

    I heard about this on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Alternative media must be a threat to mass media.

    • Arthur Askey
      May 4, 2022 at 12:14

      Democracy Now is not alternative media. Hasn’t been for quite some time.

      • Tim N
        May 5, 2022 at 07:24

        True enough.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      May 4, 2022 at 12:22

      Alternative news is considered a threat by the Empire. I am glad that more people contributed because of the PayPal ban than they would have done otherwise. I am one of those. Rock on, Consortium News!

  34. Alan
    May 4, 2022 at 11:54

    Joe Lauria, your telling of this tale reads like a bureaucratic nightmare straight out of a Franz Kafka novel. In “The Trial,” Kafka’s protagonist, K., is arrested on charges that are never revealed. The remainder of the story is (let’s see, what word should I use) kafkaesque.

  35. Bruce Ottawa
    May 4, 2022 at 11:52


  36. Heather
    May 4, 2022 at 11:16

    I closed my PayPal account yesterday and will keep it closed. Stupid f@@@@@s, who knows what they will do next week?

    • jo6pac
      May 4, 2022 at 12:30

      I did the same and yes it stays closed

  37. John Doran
    May 4, 2022 at 11:15

    I cancelled my paypal account years ago.
    It’s great to see successful pushback like this.

  38. Jeff Harrison
    May 4, 2022 at 11:05

    Great news but for me, largely irrelevant. I’m one who made a donation via credit card and immediately started the process of cancelling the use of paypal for everything for which I used paypal. They apparently don’t want my business.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      May 4, 2022 at 12:24

      I have been doing the same.

  39. May 4, 2022 at 11:00

    My husband and I will be leaving PayPal and I encourage everyone else to do so, as well. In addition, people should be suing these social media platforms and businesses for violation of our free speech rights. Any lawyer referrals or ongoing lawsuits? Alex Berenson did it.

  40. Zim
    May 4, 2022 at 10:14

    This is good news. But this doesn’t mean I will re-open my PayPal account.

    • Lorraine
      May 4, 2022 at 11:27

      Me neither. I have had some issues with them in the past and this stupidity just gives me the FINAL STRAW. I will NEVER use PayPal again.

  41. Dienne
    May 4, 2022 at 10:11

    A well-deserved step in the right direction. Now they need to restore full access to your account and issue a public apology.

  42. John R
    May 4, 2022 at 10:06

    Great news . . . for now. Thank you CN for being one of the only sources of balance.

Comments are closed.