Last weekend started out much the way most summer weekends in America tend to — but ended up at a quite different, unexpected and unfortunately sad place. A protest staged by a group called “Unite The Right” in Charlottesville, Virginia went badly awry.
While details of the event are still being sorted through by law enforcement, the protest began informally Friday night and continued into its scheduled time on Saturday — at which point, it swiftly devolved into a riot. The events left three people dead, scores injured and millions traumatized after watching the event coverage. Property damage amounts are still being calculated.
The fallout from Saturday’s events has also been intense as political officials, business leaders, social commentators and everyday Americans have reacted with uniform horror to the events that unfolded in central Virginia this weekend and disgust at the acts of violence and destruction that were undertaken.
Some of that controversy has been aimed squarely at the the White House. Politics is not our specialty at PYMNTS — though we can recommend Bloomberg for a full non-partisan accounting of the political fallout from what happened in Charlottesville last weekend.
But the events of Saturday and the seismic waves it sent forth have rippled far past Virginia and Washington and into the board rooms of Silicon Valley and Wall Street — and luminaries of the payments and commerce ecosystem are weighing in, and in some cases, moving to effect change.
So who’s doing what…
Search And Social
Google announced on Monday that it would no longer allow neo-Nazi publication the Daily Stormer on its servers. Its original web-hosting company, Go-Daddy, banned it following the publication of an article disparaging a protester who was murdered during Saturday’s protest. GoDaddy noted of its decision to ban the Stormer: “they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service.”
That other provider was initially Google, but Google decided that it really didn’t need the Stormer’s business and announced it was banning them too.
“We are canceling the Daily Stormer’s registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service,” a spokesman for the company told The Washington Post on Monday.
After the ban by Google and GoDaddy, Twitter also suspended an account for the Daily Stormer.
On Twitter, the Daily Stormer’s feed is no longer visible; going to the page just pulls up a notice of suspension.
A spokesperson for Twitter said the company could not comment on individual users, but added:
“The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies.”
Facebook also suspended the Stormer’s account — and went a step further by pledging to take down any post that celebrates hate crimes or terrorism.
Facebook did allow people to share the Daily Stormer’s controversial story, but not in an attempt to advocate for the views it put forth. User that condemned it were allowed to post it. Software algorithms were set to flag the article’s link — human moderators reviewed those posts and determine if they should be removed or allowed to stay up.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also wrote a lengthy post expressing his firm’s reaction to events.
“There is no place for hate in our community. That’s why we’ve always taken down any post that promotes or celebrates hate crimes or acts of terrorism — including what happened in Charlottesville. With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm. We won’t always be perfect, but you have my commitment that we’ll keep working to make Facebook a place where everyone can feel safe.”
PayPal announced that it will be rescinding its services from sites that accept payments or raise funds to promote hate, violence, and intolerance.
“Regardless of the individual or organization in question, we work to ensure that our services are not used to accept payments or donations for activities that promote hate, violence, or racial intolerance,” the company said in a statement. “This includes organizations that advocate racist views, such as the KKK, white supremacist groups, or Nazi groups.”
PayPal’s SVP of Corporate Affairs & Communications Franz Paasche did note that PayPal remains dedicated to providing financial services to people with a diversity of views and from all walks of life – but believes it has a responsibility to navigate the line between freedom of expression and supporting open dialogue.
After receiving from “concerned organizations” a list of hate sites, religious organizations, and political groups, an investigation turned up that a number of the sites weren’t adhering to acceptable-use policies for cards bearing the Visa logo or were engaging in illegal activities.
“For this reason, these sites are no longer able to accept Visa payments,” Amanda Pires, a spokesperson for Visa said. “Visa does not, however, restrict transactions that are legal and involve free speech or lawful expression of views, even if we may find the organization or its positions to be offensive,” she continued.
Mastercard spokesperson Seth Eisen confirmed via email with Bloomberg that it would be “shutting down the use of our cards on sites that we believe incite violence,” shortly after noting in a separate statement that the firm believes offensive speech “has and will be seen for what it is.”
“For that reason, we generally do not prohibit the acceptance of Mastercard-branded payment cards by merchants based on our disagreement with specific views espoused or promoted.”
Discover said that it plans to cut ties with “hate groups”in general.
“In light of recent events, we are terminating merchant agreements with hate groups, given the violence incited by their extremist views. The intolerant and racist views of hate groups are inconsistent with our beliefs and practices. While we do not share their opinions, we recognize their right to voice them, no matter how reprehensible we find them.”
American Express was provided with the same list of hate groups the other card networks were. After review, Amex confirms that none of these organizations currently takes American Express.
Unsurprisingly, however, Jamie Dimon offered the day’s most pointed remarks, reflecting on the events of last few days in a note to JPMC employees.
“Racism, intolerance and violence are always wrong. It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apart.”
There is really not much we can add to that.