SHERMAN OAKS, California, August 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Visa and Mastercard are restoring donation processing services to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, shortly after the think tank’s leader accused them of helping blacklist the targets of a far-left pressure group.
On Friday, LifeSiteNews reported on David Horowitz’s announcement that the companies were cutting off any credit card donations to his organization at the behest of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the similar left-wing group Color of Change (CoC). He feared that the move “could be the end of the Freedom Center.”
Horowitz quotes Mastercard as notifying him that a CoC website “has listed a number of merchants that purport to accept Mastercard and have content which is hateful in nature. .. [and] which may be advocating for violence. We have identified the sites below as belonging to your institution.” Therefore, it was halting transactions to the Freedom Center via the online payment processor Worldpay. Horowitz also cited SPLC’s “hate group” designation of his organization.
On Saturday, Breitbart reported that the media coverage of the situation was enough to spur a reversal, according to Mastercard, online payment processor Worldpay, and Horowitz himself.
“We were mobilizing for a costly legal proceeding against Mastercard when, on Friday afternoon, four days after the attempt to destroy us, WorldPay and MasterCard backed down and informed us they were restoring our online services and donations,” the longtime conservative author told Breitbart. “Why this reversal? We believe it was due to the massive support we received across the Internet when the story broke.”
Horowitz credited Breitbart, the Drudge Report, “Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax, OAN, The Daily Caller, Ricochet, Crowder, Gateway Pundit, Volnation, Canada Free Press and a host of other sites.”
Mastercard followed up with a statement that “We understand that the acquirer — the merchant’s bank — has reinstated acceptance. As part of our normal process, the acquirer reviews each case to determine what action to take.” Worldpay acknowledged that some merchants saw processing services “inadvertently disabled without the proper internal reviews. Which was the case in this situation.” It confirmed that the affected merchants “have had or are in the process of having their services re-enabled.”
Visa’s role in the story now appears to be more inadvertent, with Worldpay’s action automatically shutting off Visa cards, as well. “Visa does not have direct relationships with merchants or websites that accept Visa payments,” the company told Breitbart, only requiring merchants’ banks to “ensure that only legal transactions are submitted to the Visa network” and otherwise leaving things to those banks’ own acceptable use policies.
SPLC has attempted to get numerous mainstream conservative organizations barred from apolitical online services on similar grounds, and continues to be consulted on “hate” despite having to pay a $3.4 million defamation settlement for one such attempt this summer.
Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon all partner with SPLC to varying degrees, to help identify and restrict alleged “hate groups” and “hateful content” from their services. The FBI even used SPLC as a resource on hate crimes until 2014, when it was removed during the Obama administration. The Pentagon under President Donald Trump dropped it as a resource in October 2017.
While this incident was resolved quickly, Horowitz warned conservatives against complacency.
“The left will keep up the pressure and the same thing will happen again—if not to the Freedom Center then to other conservative organizations and individuals,” he said. “This effort to shut down conservatism’s ability to raise the funds that make its voice heard was not the result of an arbitrary decision by some politically correct middle manager at Mastercard. It was a decision at the highest corporate levels and the result of an elaborate and carefully designed campaign by leftist to silence conservative voices on the Internet and therefore in America’s national dialogue.
“There is a method in the madness of this Soros-funded network,” he continued. “Its constituent parts collaborate in transforming the reasonable policy differences that are actually the health of a democracy into dire examples of racial hostility and hatred.”
Censorship of conservative voices on social media is an ongoing topic of concern on the right, with many fearing that the spread to services such as payment processors, fundraising platforms, online stores, and DNS registrars represents the biggest threat yet to free speech and open competition between ideas.
Horowitz concluded his statement to Breitbart by urging readers to contact their elected representatives and “call for a Congressional investigation of the war the left has launched on our freedom to dissent and disagree. If we cannot preserve freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, we cannot defend any of our freedoms, and we will have lost everything.”