BitChute, a P2P video hosting platform often introduced as the blockchain YouTube alternative, appears to have run afoul of PayPal.
According to a statement posted on the company’s Patreon platform on November 14th, 2018, BitChute no longer has access to send or receive funds from its PayPal account. BitChute had used this PayPal account to accept subscription payments and send payments out.
As for why the Youtube alternative is now without a PayPal account? BitChute’s founder Ray Vahey postulated in his announcement of the account removal:
“It’s our belief that it is our stand against the current trend in censorship that has resulted in this action.”
Vahey has been vocal about BitChute’s fierce commitment to freedom of expression and speech. However, this positioning has also made the platform a hub for alt-right vloggers, white supremacists, and conspiracy theorists that have previously had content banned or demonetized on YouTube.
As of early this morning, PayPal’s only contact regarding BitChute’s account was to explain:
“The User Agreement for PayPal Service states that PayPal, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to limit an account for any violation of the User Agreement, including the Acceptable Use Policy.”
BitChute is trying to appeal the decision but hasn’t had any luck yet.
The Legacy of “Operation Chokepoint”
Several years ago, it became known that the US Department of Justice was pressuring banks and payment processors including PayPal to cut relationships with certain types of companies in grey industries. The entire movement was dubbed “Operation Chokepoint.”
Back then, target industries included payday lenders, pornography, firearms, and tangential cryptocurrency services. It seems the same vector is still used to apply pressure on fringe companies. Though it’s been shown that Operation Chokepoint did little to stymie criminal activity in target industries, rather only damaging legitimate players and the reputation of specific industries as a whole… which may have been the whole point all along.
The news comes just a week after Anthony Pompliano’s popular cryptocurrency podcast was reportedly removed from iTunes by Apple without justification.