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[flagged] Visa Blacklisted My Business and My Family for Building Gab (gab.com)
52 points by Melchizedek on June 28, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 59 comments

> Gab is and always has been a legally operated business. We sell hats, shirts, and a software subscription service that unlocks new features on Gab. My personal credit score is in the 800’s. I pay my bills. I have a wife and daughter to provide for, yet we are all being punished and defamed because someone at Visa has it out for me.

And why does Visa have it out for him? Operation Chokepoint only ended formally, that's why.

Payment processing is used as an end-run around the First Amendment.

> Payment processing is used as an end-run around the First Amendment.

What ever happened to "nobody is required to fund your free speech, buddy"? Market forces led to TV, radio and newspaper consolidation in the late 80s-early 90s, and the FCC abandoned the "Fairness Doctrine", which was essentially anti-market. It's good that this fine fellow has funded his own press in Gab.com, there's also Parler for the less stout of heart, but if market forces cause him to go bankrupt, I'm sorry, that's personal responsibility for you!

> > Payment processing is used as an end-run around the First Amendment.

> What ever happened to "nobody is required to fund your free speech, buddy"?

It's an end run when, as is not unheard of, it is government pressure on payment processors that underlies them cutting off services to unwelcome activities, if what makes the activity unwelcomenand a focus of the government pressure is an activity protected against government interference by the First Amendment.

If it's purely the uninfluenced preference of the payment processors, sure, that's not an end-run around the First Amendment.

Electronic payment is taking a vital importance. In many countries, cash is no more an alternative as there are now limits on the amounts you are allowed to pay cash (usually to fight fiscal evasion, undeclared jobs, crime, money laundering, etc).

I wonder if in the future, electronic payment will be considered like electricity (basic utility?). Only a juge would be allowed to ban someone using it.

In the US, are electricity or water companies allowed to ban a customer if he is having criminal activities? How does it work?

Visa and MasterCard in particular are hugely profitable businesses. There is no way that payment processing will be nationalized in the USA.

Big corporations still prefer their customers pay with checks or ACH, because it costs about 1.25% minimum per transaction for Level 1 merchants. The US government clears checks, and it costs nothing per transaction.

In many countries, utilities are not public companies but are obliged to offer a "universal service".

When the service is considered as "universal", banning a customer is next to impossible.

Today, electronic payment is practically considered as is but not legally. However I can imagine that cases will be raised and politician will change that.

Visa is a private business, they have the right to do business wi... yadda yadda yadda.

But, in a world in which online payments are more important than ever, shouldn't the governments provide an alternative for businesses? Or at least have some kind of guarantee for business to be able to participate in online business?

Most places do have alternatives payment methods which don't depend on visa or mastercard, though they are usually country-specific.

We need an international protocol for sending payments via your own bank's app.

That already exists in europe through the SEPA, using standardized bank account numbers (IBAN).

SEPA is not what I’m talking about - there is no way for a store to have a “buy with SEPA” button at checkout which doesn’t require manually entering account numbers.

With a credit card you enter your own credit card number in the shop's site. With sepa direct debit you enter your account number in the shop's site. With instant transfer you enter someone else's account number in your banking app.

The modality differences are minor, all of them are payment methods. Perhaps not the payment method you prefer, but still an alternative.

I have never seen a website offer SEPA direct debit and for good reason - that would be ripe for fraud; they can usually be reversed.

For manual transfers, not only would you need their account number, but you would need the amount and transaction code and to manually enter those in your bank's app. Then, you have to manually return to the store's website to see if it succeeded.

So no, the differences are not minor.

> I have never seen a website offer SEPA direct debit and for good reason - that would be ripe for fraud; they can usually be reversed.

I have seen plenty of those. Including amazon.

> For manual transfers, not only would you need their account number, but you would need the amount and transaction code and to manually enter those in your bank's app. Then, you have to manually return to the store's website to see if it succeeded.

That is a minor difference in my book. Fundamentally it's still a payment method and online. And it's not like credit cards are frictionless either, their verification has become more complex over the years too, redirecting you through various steps and requiring additional authentication.

> shouldn't the governments provide an alternative for businesses

There is: cash.

I believe the US government still runs the check clearing. Checks are a convenient, portable form of payment, complete with government subsidy!

> We were told this week that not only is Gab blacklisted by Visa as a business, but my personal name, phone number, address, and more are all also blacklisted by Visa. If I wanted to leave Gab tomorrow (something that isn’t going to happen) and start a lemonade stand I wouldn’t be able to obtain merchant processing for it.

Horrific financial suffocation by VISA. This is why they are terrified by cryptocurrencies and will try to control that as well. If they can do this to him, they can essentially do it to anyone who they disagree with for any reason. That's not good.

Perhaps we need to also boycott Mastercard, given that their name too is 'offensive' because it has the historical 'master' / 'slave' reference too, which must mean someone out there is offended by their name. /s

absolutely no fan of gab and I say good riddance.

the cancel culture sure is annoying though. by their logic:

we should not forget Blackberry. They should rename themselves to "berry-of-color"

Also has anyone looked at all these racist packages in Debian yet?

   apt-cache search 'master|slave' |uniq|wc -l 
... maybe time to flood submit@bugs.debian.org with petitions to end racist Linux once and for all?

... all this is getting really stupid.

The slippery slope argument is that first VISA is going after white supremacists. Next they will be refusing to work with any Republican fund raising efforts. It's a dubious argument, but even it were true that this is the direction that VISA is taking, where would this lead?

I don't think VISA will choose to walk away from major customers in the future. More likely, they will continue to turn away the most extreme customers who are also very small.

But if VISA did go down this road, it would open up an opportunity for a new Repulican-oriented credit card company. Or more likely, Republicans would turn more and more to their competitors, such as American Express.

Gab is a racist cesspool. If I was Visa, I wouldn't want to be associated with them in any fashion either.

I, for one, welcome our payment processing overlords. I mean, they agree with me in this specific case, so what could go wrong!

Well, this is clearly a case where the Good Guys and Free Markets finally win, and ironically so to boot! ;)

I don't like that the author didn't bother to explain what it was Visa didn't like, I don't care enough to go digging and so I'm not inclined to take sides.

Visa is well within its rights to blacklist your company, I don't know if they are in the right regarding your personal accounts. But it doesn't sound like you've been blacklisted for "building Gab" which to me made it sound like you were a competing platform it sounds like you ruffled some feathers and now you are trying to play the "but free speech" card which doesn't apply to corporations.

Unleash anti-trust on the credit card processors and break them up.

"Build your own platform" they said...

Mmmmmm. Gab is haven for hate speech and right wing conspiracy theories. I personally think it is good that Visa will not help them.

But as a techie I would say to them use bitcoin?

I disagree with your opinion on Gab, but even so, there's a difference between banning Gab the company and banning Andrew Torba the person.

Why should Andrew (and by extension his wife and anyone else who lives at his address) be personally blacklisted for corporate activity?

    > there's a difference between banning Gab 
    > the company and banning Andrew Torba the person.
Is it that the latter is much funnier?

Proof that it actually happened? All I see is empty speculation. Given the usual disingenuous postings by Andrew Torba I am not inclined to believe him.

I never heard if them before but your rights depend on your ability to tolerate others' right. Today it's right wing conspiracy theories, tomorrow it's a left wing civil rights movement like BLM activism. Payment processors acting as henchmen for the ruling class to decide who should and should not be tolerated is as 1984 dystopian as it gets. I don't know about you but I never voted for visa to legislate, judge or enforce any laws. Rights mean nothing if arbitrary groups of people can collaboratr to prevent your free excercise of those rights. Visa itself has little to no rights, only privileges afforded to it by the public to operate a business.

The slippery slope fallacy is exactly that- a fallacy. The idea that we have to tolerate intolerance is also one that's been explored and debunked quite a bit.

No, I did not say tolerate intolerance. You must tolerate intolerant free speech! Actions are a different ballgame,and even then democratically elected institutions not random corporations get to enforce that rule.

And by tolerate I mean don't kill people or socially isolate them and their family from obtaining basic necessities of life. If you can't do that then I cannot support protection of any rights you have at all. I do not wish to live to see more world wars and genocides. Matter if fact, I am saying that your actions of supporting harmful retaliation against free speech is an intolerant action that shouldn't be tolerated, so you're sort of speaking against yourself except you don't see your actions as intolerant.

You're wrong. Social sanctions are the exact right response to repugnant behavior. If you peddle hate speech, then being labelled appropriately and pushed into isolation is a just response. You are allowed to say and think what you want and we are allowed to shun you. Both of these things are inline with individual rights and freedoms.

People seem to think that "free speech" is a license to be an A-hole but free speech comes with consequences. Cause and affect are natural laws and the response to sheltering Nazis is often harsh and sometimes violent. Being shunned and losing access to a service provided by a private business feels like a pretty light sentence.

The slippery slope fallacy is "this is the first step, and further steps will be easier, so we shouldn't take that step". Sometimes that is true, often it is not.

Free speech is a category where there really does seem to be a slippery slope. Infrastructure built to combat child pornography is now used to block porn in general in the UK, for instance. In the US, it's used to block sites infringing copyright. If that first step hadn't been taken - if providers hadn't been required to build that infrastructure for CP - it would have been far more difficult to force them to create it for porn or piracy. But once "filter things we don't like" was accepted, expanding the list of disliked things was far easier than setting up the filter in the first place.

As for tolerating intolerance - I personally always find it depressing when people use this to advocate for silencing Nazis, or white supremacists, or racists, or people that happen to be called those things. Here's a more complete quote of Popper:

> Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.—In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

Nazis, despite what many seem to think, do NOT have the power to suppress speech with violence in the US, or Germany, or anywhere else. Popular opinion is also firmly against such philosophies. But there IS a philosophy in the US that fits the latter part of his description - one that is not prepared to meet others in a rational argument, and instead denounces all argument. One that responds to speech they do not like with force aimed to silence that speech. And yes, one that encourages the use of physical force as well. What else is "Punch a Nazi", if not responding to speech with force?

You won't see Visa blacklisting them anytime soon though, because they ARE Visa. And Mastercard. And numerous other organizations across the world.

That doesn't mean that it's a good thing.

Also works the other way. Violence against peaceful BLM protesters and journalists counts as one example. To me it is simple, if all they have is speech, speech minus a call to action,it should be tolerated. If an action is taken or suggested then rules to regulate that action or intent apply. Conspiracy laws exist for a reason.

Oh, of course. Violence to counter speech is unacceptable.

Even with a call to action. (A call to action also needs to be specific - "lynch John Doe at 123 Main Street" - and timely - "tomorrow night" - to be outside first amendment protection in the US by my understanding)

Imagine I witness you break your leg in public, in an otherwise isolated place. I have no legal obligation to help you, but if I don’t you’ll have to drag yourself for hours to get help.

I also happen to find your comment very “triggering”. My parents both survived a right wing dictatorship and brought me up in a very “edgy” manner (don’t trust police. don’t talk in public. Don’t use your real name on Internet forums. Don’t talk about what happens in the family at school). My wife and her family survived a communist dictatorship. I therefore view your train of thought to be very dangerous, and I see you as my ideological enemy. To be specific I find your stance on free speech to be befitting of a corporativist, therefore a fascist as opposed to my (classical, clearly) liberalism.

Back to the woods:

Do I walk away and let you drag yourself out? Realistically you’ll die before you get out of the woods. But you might make it and I’m under absolutely no legal requirement to help you (Most jurisdictions anyway).

Liekwise, the owner of GAB could use an unpractical payment system no one in the West used unless they want to have an FBI file. His wife could divorce him and move out to make a living and raise the kids.

I would pull up out of the woods. I think I have a moral responsibility towards you. Likewise VISA has an moral obligation to provide services for legal businesses no matter how unpopular.

Imagine if VISA decided not to allow its system at abortion clinics.

Either way, I’m cancelling my VISA. I’m sick of corporate blue washing.

We're already in the middle of a pandemic where America is failing to pull together and make sensible decisions. At the same time, minorities are clashing in the streets with right-wing extremists and the police.

    > I therefore view your train of thought 
    > to be very dangerous
Torba and his moronic website are far more likely to contribute to a civil war in November than is Visa. I don't know where you lived before, but if you're in the USA now, you should skate to where the puck is going, not where it's been.

just build ur own social media platform bro

just build ur own payment processing platform bro

just build your own internet infrastructure bro

just build your own computer components bro

just build ur own electricity bro

just build ur own food bro

One day they will come for you too, whoever supports this.

Communists, right...

I dunno what to say. There’s nothing good about this. Unfortunately people love the free market until market actors do market actor things, then all of a sudden it’s the Bolshevik terror. (Literally, in this case)

Do you support Visa’s right to transact with, and not to transact with, whoever they like? Sure you do, till it bites you.

No sides wish to confront their responsibility in forming the system we are in and heading toward. So it’s full steam ahead. Hold onto your butts!

There is no free market when you have enormous monopolies like VISA. Fee market is when you have VISA, MasterCard and like ten other companies and still can process transaction of nine other companies. Card processing is not a free market.

Do card processors have a monopoly in payment processing when gab is still able to receive payments via other (more inconvenient) options?

Not a monopoly, but they have enormous market power, which used to be sufficient to get into anti-trust trouble.

Upvoted, but there's a significant, influential contingent of the social justice crowd that quite literally is communist and conceives of itself (not incorrectly) as effective vanguardism.

No, I do not accept that Visa has any rights at all. Visa is not a person, it is a public company. Individuals have a right to refuse to transact with whomever they choose but a business has no rights, not even the right to exist. A business only has privileges afforded to it by society. People have a right to form private associations and do whatever they want,but the moment that for-profit business opens doors to the public, the terms of it's operation must be according to local laws and restriction by local commerce associations. Many states allow businesses to refuse a customer , that should not be the case either.

If a business has the public as customers then the terms if it's operation and existence must be determined by the public. That is of course assuming society is ruled by a government of the people,for the people and by the people. If corporations run society it is businesses that have rights and they decide who gets to have a payment processed, who gets to buy groceries and who is allowed a shelter above their heads and whose child is allowed at the good schools. That revolting idea of a society must be destroyed at all costs. I will oppose any society or government that supports it.


Even if everybody here agrees with "fuck this guy" sentiment, I do not see VISA as an accountable institution which should regulate or enforce anything related to morals.

No business should be allowed to turn away a customer without a factually true reason that directly affects their revenue or profits.

That aside , why isn't btc consumer ready yet? Or what are the stumbling blocks? Most major platforms won't allow crypto tradig without ID verificatiom so for most people the blacklisting problem remains.

And make no mistake, I will still be against Visa whethet this was the new Nazi party collecting genocide funds or anarchists collecting riot funds. Legislators, judges,prosecutors and mayors are elected to implement rules that enforce how society feels about any person or group. No corporation or industry has my consent to enforce any law. They have the privilege, not right to engage in commerce. Society needs to revoke their privelege so they learn their place.

yes, of course Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission says that!

“ That aside , why isn't btc consumer ready yet? ”

Because ppl don’t want an FBI profile.

Our other customers don't like it when we handle business for a site that enables neo-nazis isn't a valid "true" reason?

If they have verifiable proof of other customers complaining, sure it's valid. But even then, it does not give them the right to actively call other payment processors to stop them from doing business with gab. Persecution is no one's right.

What if the other customers don't like Democrats? Or leftists in general? That would be perfectly fine?

I don't think this ends up you imagine that it does.

> FTA: "Visa tells them that Gab has been flagged..."

And also, flagged here on HN. I thought the folks here would turn out to be better than the folks at VISA. I guess I was wrong about that.

>Please don't complain that a submission is inappropriate. If a story is spam or off-topic, flag it. Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead. If you flag, please don't also comment that you did.


I didn't mean to imply that I flagged this. I think the story is relevant and not spam. It's just a shame to see people on HN trying to cancel the story of someone who got cancelled.

> National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982), was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court ruling 8-0 (Marshall did not participate in the decision) that although states have broad power to regulate economic activities, they cannot prohibit peaceful advocacy of a politically-motivated boycott.

> In a decision by Justice Stevens, the Supreme Court reversed the Supreme Court of Mississippi's decision, holding that the nonviolent elements of the petitioners' activities were protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and holding that the petitioners were not liable in damages for the consequences of their nonviolent, protected activity. This decision means that "boycotts and related activities to bring about political, social and economic change are political speech, occupying “the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.”


Why is this so hard to understand?

“that although states have broad power to regulate economic activities...”

The first amendment is binding to the states and federal government not a private business.

You are misunderstanding.

The Supreme Court held that Visa boycotting Gab (or anyone associated with Gab) is protected Political Speech. I'm pointing out the contradiction of everyone in this thread only caring about Gab's rights and not Visa's rights.

You are correct. I got triggered because the three things that a lot of people get wrong on HN are censorship, monopoly, and anti-trust.

So VISA's actions don't violate the 1st amendment. That doesn't answer if they violate anti-trust laws, nor does it answer the more important questions of is this behavior, even if legal, also moral, and should we be worried about how much power VISA has when they can so easily destroy a business.

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