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Don't know if it is the reason for the ban, but Niteos main product seems to be a service for creating spam networks. https://www.easyblognetworks.com, https://niteo.co/projects

Thank you! After reading the story I headed to the comments to look for this exact comment! This story was super, super sketchy! The tell was it didn't at all mention the products or services they sell. Since any normal person would mention the products/services they sell front-and-center as key information to the story, I went ahead and assumed the problem was the products or services they offer were illegal/sketchy/questionable/against TOS.

So I came here to see if anyone looked up what sort of products and services they offer.

Same! And it’s definitely sketchy, but...

PayPal could have at least pointed towards the clause in their terms that is being used for the rejection.

I am wondering why PayPal cares in this case? I had no idea what PBNs where before this thread, and I agree they are spammy and should be dealt with (by google presumably), why does PayPal see the need to ban this company? I assume PBNs aren't illegal, so PayPal wouldn't face legal jeopardy.

My guess is either Google is encouraging PayPal to do this ban or PayPal is afraid of some societal backlash if people realize they are profiting off of spam.

I am honestly happy they are attempting to limit spam, but just surprised they are harming their bottom line to do it.

It's deceptive and unethical. There should be no surprise that legitimate payment providers like PayPal and even Visa/Mastercard would not want to work with them.

PayPal also does not do business with many Porn Websites, which are generally legal.

Good point regarding porn websites being banned by PayPal. I guess it falls under my "societal backlash" reasoning.

I am truly disgusted by this comment and those with a similar sentiment below. Selling PBNs is not against Paypal’s TOS, regardless of whether or not you happen to dislike them. The point is that PayPal falsely asserted that a business violated its TOS, and that means that it could happen to anyone else - instantly and without explanation. That is the problem here.

I just googled PBN. It looks like it is a black-hat, completely inauthentic SEO tactic that has no legitimate value. Why on Earth or you defending them? Am I missing something?

You are indeed missing something. I am not defending them. But if they are doing something that PayPal hasn’t banned and obviously found acceptable for 12 previous years, it means that all businesses are in immediate danger of being instantly banned without explanation on the whim of any of thousands of PayPal employees. That is a huge problem, and should concern everyone that depends on them for payment processing.

If you are subject to the whims and value judgments of individual PayPal employees, rather than policy documents, that is truly scary. Sell something that happens to offend a random employee's moral, political, or religious sensibilities? You might lose your account. What happens if a relative of a PayPal employee decides that you weren't fast enough with customer service, and tells them about it? Can that employee go searching for your account and kill it simply because they have a relative that wasn't impressed with the speed of your customer service?

The point is that these companies establish written policies for a reason. If those policies are not being followed, then businesses shouldn't use PayPal - not because they want to defend PBN sellers, but because their own business may be at risk even when they do nothing wrong.

> it means that all businesses are in immediate danger of being instantly banned without explanation on the whim of any of thousands of PayPal employees

This has always been the case. Paypal is extremely liberal with funds they seize or what accounts they shut down. At least, that's the image of them I've had for over a decade. Maybe they've since changed...but I wouldn't store any real amount of money in Paypal for any amount of time.

Ummm....no. As a software engineer, I can assure you there are not "thousands of PayPal employees" that can just ban businesses at will. I don't even think engineers working on that particular piece of software have any jurisdiction over that. Time and time again people post complaints that PayPal banned them "for no reason", without cause, etc, but invariably when you do your research, they have violated the TOS, and they have often been warned by PayPal many times. They were scamming someone, exploiting return policies and systems, etc. People will conceal those facts, as well as their own actions which led to their consequences.

The issue here is that this company did not violate PayPal's TOS, yet they find themselves in this situation. BTW, I had a similar experience with PayPal, though my account was not open for 12 years. I didn't violate any TOS, and had no chargebacks - as in not a single one - and yet my account was effectively ghosted. I was handed a bunch of hoops to jump through, I jumped through them, and then nothing happened. The account sat in that state for so long that PayPal was eventually required by law to turn the money over to the state as abandoned. Only then was I able to get the money back - from the state treasurer (years after the fact).

So if your policy documents don't actually govern your policies, then employees are banning businesses based on their personal value judgments. That is problematic for a large number of reasons.

> The issue here is that this company did not violate PayPal's TOS

Untrue. Often the exact breach is legally prohibited from being publicly shared, but if a company is banned, then a TOS breach has happened. There is an unbelievable amount of red tape and compliance within every process, both digital and human, that occurs with regards to money and transactions. Especially in the fintech space, PayPal internally is bound to governmental regulations and auditing far more strict than any regulations imposed on customers. To suggest that PayPal can just close accounts at whim for any other reason than enforcement of legally binding terms and confiscate customer funds is simply absurd.

First, no company is ever “legally prohibited” from telling you what specific section of the TOS they allege that you violated. Second, with regard to PayPal not closing accounts on a whim, it happens literally everyday. See http://www.paypalsucks.com/ and countless other sites like it. Even the BBB lists nearly 8300 complaints against PayPal in the last 3 years - https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/san-jose/profile/payment-processin...

> First, no company is ever “legally prohibited” from telling you what specific section of the TOS they allege that you violated

Again, misplaced assumption and personal opinion. With some circumstances, especially if regulating bodies become involved, a company can be ordered by government to not share any further information with the other party, as well as freeze their funds. And even in the circumstances where that does not occur, I don't think a company is obligated to spell out for you what you violated. Sure, I agree that doesn't always look the best and it can seem like it happened "for no reason", but personally my opinion is that if someone told me I have violated TOS, I can read the few paragraphs for myself and figure it out. And they have over 250 million users, 8300 complaints over 3 years doesn't seem bad, and it looks like most of them were resolved. I get it, money gets people upset, and it's always tempting to see the "big bad corporation" turning its back on the little guy, but I personally feel like it gets blown out of proportion a lot. There's always more to the story... Being in the industry, it just frustrates me when people think these big companies can do whatever they want at will, when really their hands are often tied much more than you think.

it just frustrates me when people think these big companies can do whatever they want at will, when really their hands are often tied much more than you think

I know my experiences with them very much fall in the “big company doing whatever it wants at will” category, and I am not alone. Scores of others over the years have wound up as frustrated as you are by these comments in their dealings with PayPal.

especially if regulating bodies become involved, a company can be ordered by government to not share any further information with the other party,

This would apply to an absurdly small percentage of the accounts that PayPal closes on a daily basis.

That implies that the spammers tell the truth.

Let's just say that their credibility seems a bit sketchy.

This seems a little bit like saying that companies should be held to similar standards as governments ought to be, with regards to “the rule of law”, and the whole “the law should be publicly stated, and laws shouldn’t apply retroactively” thing.

Which is, a claim worth considering? I am not convinced yet.

I suppose that the fact that PayPal is a money transfer service, which is necessary for many kinds of businesses, and maybe kind of a monopoly, that could be a reason to treat them as more like a government than some businesses should be treated?


> But if they are doing something that PayPal ... obviously found acceptable for ... years, it means that all businesses are in immediate danger of being instantly banned without explanation ...

That's no news. Many PP user are fully aware of that fact. There have been similar cases over the years, completely unrelated to PBNs. That's the deal with PP, take it or leave it.

Because if what they are selling does not break any laws PayPal should not ban it. Or do you don't want PayPal to treat the world as their app store and pick and choose which software or service they find ok to sell.

The idea that companies cannot exercise any authority over their own product beyond what is explicitly forbidden by law is silly.

They already do that. There are a lot of legal things PayPal has banned. Try to use PayPal to buy firearms and see what happens.

Here is PayPal's TOS (although they may have multiple for different aspects of the service, and definitely for different jurisdictions), in case anyone else wanted to take a look: https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/ua/acceptableuse-full

Ooof, PBNs are literal spam. They're designed to game Google by producing a deluge of low quality content with backlinks on whatever search terms you're hoping to squat on.

I'm utterly sick of this kind of junk.

True, but as long as there are rules, somebody is going to find a loophole or a way to game the system. I'd personally be more concerned with Google improving their product or with society's increasing reliance on a single company's service and our unwillingness to consume information critically.

PBNs are garbagey, but trying to put them all down is unrealistic. And even if they could be stopped, it would only be a band aid fix, not addressing the real problems.

Seems like limiting their payment processing was a pretty effective step.

I disagree as the article clearly states they have other payment processors and were already moving away from PayPal.

So they say.

Spammers and their ilk, though, are not really famous for sticking to the truth.

Hundreds of sites have been brought down for hosting pirated movies thanks to laws against that, don't know why putting down PBns would be unrealistic.

ah yes, and the wide-reaching effects on piracy those have caused.

Nobody is gonna start torrenting spam web sites to access their useless content.

My guess is that in this case many of the sites copied content from other sites i.e. substantial copyright infringement. That is illegal.

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

I don't see how that's relevant to this particular problem.

I read your comment as suggesting that certain actions aren't a good use of time or that they shouldn't be done because they don't fully solve the problem.

I understand the dissatisfaction with half-measures. But I would argue as long as the actions have a meaningful impact and there isn't a promising alternative, it is still worthwhile.

I get that, but you can waste all of your time baling out water, or you can plug the hole.

What's the difference between this and 1-click VPS with WordPress/etc preinstalled?

If you look at their other (past/sold) projects, it's part of a suite of software they've developed for "autoblogging", scraping, automatically reposting articles from prewritten databases, "enriching" them with random images, etc. It's very clear what industry they serve.

That raises another question: why couldn't Paypal simply say this?

I can imagine several plausible reasons, related to potential liability, but does that mean that if we're trying to outsource business functions to specialist firms that we can't expect them to be transparent in their operations?

Having worked in a different industry that also had to ban people I can make an assumption: they don’t need to, and doing so never makes anyone happy, so why bother. If they said it was because of their spam business, the owner would do exactly what they did on HN: “but we didn’t use PayPal for our spam business” - this won’t change the decision.

But failing to do so leads to increased operational costs, as customers contact CS again and again, demanding the rationale. It can also lead to negative press.

It's pretty easy to no longer support someone who is banned. The negative press is usually OK because like in this case, and in many others I've seen on HN, the one complaining is usually in clear violation of stated policy. It's completely reasonable to disagree with and complain about that policy, but they rarely do so explicitly, it drums up more support when the policy violation isn't made a highlight.

What specific violation of stated policy are you referring to?

I wasn’t being specific. When I said that policy, I mean the policy the company invoked to justify the ban, which the customer may not know.

Yikes. And proof, once again, that there's ALWAYS another side to these stories.

who keeps company with wolves will learn to howl

In my opinion the reason for ban, even though mentioned that unrelated to their SaaS offering, is likely higher number of transactions with parties who have been also baned for some shady practices. Such rat clusters are usualy nuked in batch.

Great observation and critical missing piece of information! My sympathy level instantly went from 100 to 0.

As I mentioned in the previous comments - we're not using PayPal to process our SaaS products.

> we're not using PayPal to process our SaaS products

Disclosure: I used to work in payment industry.

Unfortunately from the brand's perspective (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) it doesn't matter which of your product is using their channel to process payments, if the business is involved in doing something shady, the whole company will be flagged. If you already passed KYC 12 years ago, but your business _today_ won't pass KYC if you were to apply again, then it's a matter of time until you get kicked out.

I've got no simpathy for your business. It is spam plain and simple.

What were you using them to process?

No denial that you’re selling software designed to spam. Interesting.

Maybe you should focus on making your business run in the ethical clear first. You’re not getting any sympathy from me that your unethical practices got you cut off from financing.

Weird. Last comments from this account before today were in 2010.

And it took PayPal 12 years to flag their product as Spam? In any case, PayPal should be a payment processor, not a enforcer of arbitrary business standards, like tagging something as spam 12 years too late.

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