Image: Stripe

Social network Gab, a haven for toxic alt-right personalities banned from more mainstream platforms, has had its Stripe account frozen due to adult content on the platform. But even if you cheer Gab’s problems, Stripe is no hero.

Stripe, according to Gab, told the social network that it must modify its terms of service “to indicate that adult or illegal content cannot be streamed through GabTV or otherwise distributed through the Gab service” and to put in place “reasonable controls to ensure that no adult or illegal content is being streamed through GabTV or otherwise available on the Gab service.” Gab claims that the service doesn’t allow illegal content on its site and that all adult content is marked NSFW.

“We’ve had this content and a NSFW setting for two years with no issues from them until now,” Gab wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.

It’s unsurprising that Stripe would suspend Gab’s account due to NSFW content given its terms of service prohibits businesses related to adult content and services, citing “pornography and other obscene materials (including literature, imagery and other media); sites offering any sexually-related services such as prostitution, escorts, pay-per-view, adult live chat features” as examples of banned products and services from its systems. The company also states on its website that this list is “representative, but not exhaustive,” meaning there may be other forms of adult content that it doesn’t permit that have not been explicitly noted.

“No one, to our knowledge, is specifically paying to unlock any adult content on Gab via Stripe, which is what their terms of service prohibit,” Gab’s spokesperson said. “Adult content can be freely posted by anyone so long as they are abiding by our NSFW content guidelines. We are going to attempt to communicate with Stripe to get more clarity on their request, because it seems they want us to ban any and all adult content on the site at the moment.

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The spokesperson added: “It’s interesting how we’ve never had any issues with either of these payment processors for over two years now, but all of a sudden when Gab.com is the only platform on the internet to host Alex Jones and Infowars, we become the target.”

In a totally unrelated incident, Gab’s PayPal account was recently found in violation of the company’s terms and services due to reported death threats to the payment processor’s CEO, Daniel Schulman, through a users’ posting of the Navy Seal Copypasta meme, according to PayPal. Gab refused to take it down. PayPal told Gizmodo that it did not threaten to discontinue Gab’s service as a result of that outreach, and Gab said it hasn’t heard back from PayPal since they messaged the payment processor 11 days ago.

Sex, not violence, appears to be the bigger issue for Gab—and for Stripe.

While Gab losing its support from certain payment processors seems, at face value, to be a deserving consequence for a platform teeming with hate speech and calls for violence, Stripe’s policy goes beyond just punishing those for being shitty. In fact, payment processors’ policies banning adult content are unfortunate examples of how financial institutions discriminate against sex workers.

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“Financial discrimination is a huge issue for sex workers and extremely under reported in the media,” Survivors Against SESTA, a campaign advocating for the rights and safety of sex workers, wrote on its website. “Regardless of the kind of sex work they do, they’re at risk of losing their livelihood at any minute when kicked off a platform. People report having personal bank accounts closed once the bank learned of their profession and they’ve been kicked off of personal fundraising platforms like GoFundMe while trying to get help from friends and family with healthcare.”

The group created a running list of companies, institutions, and products that “in some way discriminate or ban sex workers or adult products OR have been shut down completely following increased anti-sex work legislation,” the organization wrote. Among the listed companies are a number of payment processors, including Stripe and PayPal. “PayPal has banned many people for life even if they never used PayPal for their sex related work,” Survivors Against SESTA wrote, while also quoting a section of Stripe’s terms of service.

While Gab is hardly a sympathetic victim, this issue does point out the flaw in Stripe’s policy. Simply put: Gab sucks, but so do Stripe’s terms of service. It doesn’t just impact Nazis and misogynists, but also vulnerable communities. Payment processors and digital services more broadly continue to update their terms of service to push sex workers off their platforms—even if the transactions are unrelated to adult content. For an industry that loves to proclaim itself as a great equalizer, payment processor policies perpetually impacting marginalized communities would suggest otherwise.

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We’ve reached out to Stripe for comment and will update when we hear back.