Story at a glance
- PayPal and the Anti-Defamation League will work together to tackle extremism activity on its software platform.
- A 2020 study said extremist groups have been using PayPal and other online payment methods to support their operations.
- Attorney General Merrick Garland said that law enforcement will need the help of private tech companies to counter extremist groups.
Online payment software company PayPal will partner with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in a new initiative to fight extremism within the financial industry and on its platforms.
Announced on Monday, the company and the nonprofit organization launched a research effort to study how extremist and hate movements in the U.S are using financial applications and software platforms to fund their activity.
Officials said they intend to share their findings with law enforcement and policymakers. A spokesperson told The Hill that the initiative looks into specifically looking into researching the financial patterns and insights of these groups.
"All of us, including in the private sector, have a critical role to play in fighting the spread of extremism and hate. With this new initiative, we're setting a new standard for companies to bring their expertise to critical social issues," said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO, ADL. "We have a unique opportunity to further understand how hate spreads and develop key insights that will inform the efforts of the financial industry, law enforcement, and our communities in mitigating extremist threats."
Both PayPal and the ADL will include similar organizations, such as the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), to focus on the marginalized communities impacted by extremist activity.
“Attacking these hateful groups' revenue sources weakens their reach and exposes just how unstable they truly are,” said LULAC CEO Sindy Benavides. “The data and research collected from experts will help organizations, like LULAC, inform their strategy to combat evil. We congratulate these organizations and will continue to stand alongside them against hate.”
PayPal is the latest platform to take steps in combating hate groups online, with other sites, mainly social media platforms, censoring accounts with ties to extremist or hateful content.
In 2020, a study identified roughly 73 U.S.-based hate groups that used online funding and payment methods and websites, including on PayPal and Facebook donation settings. It also noted the use of cryptocurrencies among these groups that act as forms of payments with less traceability than other currencies.
“Through this research, we found that hate groups use popular platforms such as PayPal, Facebook Fundraisers and Stripe, although these platforms often have explicit policies supposedly preventing their use to facilitate hate or violence,” the paper reads. “There is a clear need for greater efforts to be made to tackle hate groups.”
Over the course of 2020 and into 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice has worked to tackle violent extremism and groups with hateful ideologies.
Attorney General Merrick Garland stated in June that law enforcement needs the participation of tech companies to help fight extremist groups.
“The technology sector is particularly important to countering terrorist abuse of internet-based communication platforms to recruit, incite, plot attacks, and foment hatred,” he said.