SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones hit PayPal with a federal lawsuit Monday, claiming bias against conservative views guided its decision to block his company from earning money through the platform.
“It is at this point well known that large tech companies, located primarily in Silicon Valley, are discriminating against politically conservative entities and individuals, including banning them from social media platforms such as Twitter, based solely on their political and ideological viewpoints,” Jones’ company, Free Speech Systems, states in a 15-page complaint.
PayPal is just the latest technology giant to ban Jones and his conspiracy-peddling website from its platform. Apple, Facebook, Spotify and YouTube barred Jones and Infowars in August, claiming violations of their policies on promoting hate and violence. Twitter followed with a permanent suspension in early September, and PayPal decided to stop processing payments for Infowars on Sept. 21.
Jones claims PayPal’s decision was based purely on “viewpoint discrimination.” He also says the decision was made based on conduct that “had nothing to do with” the PayPal platform, which purportedly violates Infowars’ contract with the payment-processing giant.
Were PayPal’s decision allowed to stand, it would set “a dangerous precedent for any person or entity with controversial views,” Jones’ company claims in its lawsuit.
Jones makes money by selling dietary supplements, fluoride-free toothpaste, Infowars-branded clothing, and right-wing literature through his website. Jones and his company have operated a PayPal account since 2000, according to the complaint.
Because of PayPal’s dominant market position as a provider of online payment services, Jones says cutting off Infowars will cause an extreme financial hardship for him and his business.
“Having effectively cornered the market, [PayPal] is now using that market power to restrain conservative trade and commerce,” the complaint states.
PayPal was co-founded in 1999 by Peter Thiel, an openly gay conservative venture capitalist who supported President Donald Trump’s 2016 bid for president. The company was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
Jones has found himself increasingly isolated by mainstream technology platforms that say he promotes hate speech and discrimination against gay people, Muslims, liberals and other groups.
He is currently fighting a defamation suit for calling the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 28 people, including the shooter, a “hoax.”
Jones has also accused school shooting survivors of being paid actors and compared them to Nazis. He has linked gay rights with pedophilia and suggested transgender people will introduce children to “Satanism.” He has also been accused of encouraging violence against liberals, once posting a video titled “How to Prevent Liberalism: A Public Service Announcement,” which showed an adult throwing a young child down on pavement, according to CNN.
Jones seeks damages and an injunction to stop PayPal from permanently restricting his account.
Free Speech Systems is represented by Marc Randazza of Las Vegas.
PayPal spokesman Justin Higgs said the company rejects the allegations in Jones’ complaint.
“PayPal is aware of the filing and believes the claims in the complaint are without merit,” Higgs said in an email. “PayPal looks forward to vigorously defending itself.”