The Scarlet RT: How WePay Denies Service to Sex Workers & Surveils Everyone

Original Eden Alexander fundraiser

Friday night I was home on a date with myself, my cat, and Hannibal when sex work twitter started showing up en masse around a sister and porn performer, Eden Alexander.

Eden was gravely ill, couldn’t work, was struggling with the cascade of expenses following a medical emergency. Her friends in the sex worker community setup an online fundraiser for her, using the site GiveForward. They knew online services often deny service to sex workers. They were upset, but not surprised, when supporters’ donations were returned, and when WePay – GiveForward’s payment processor – shut down the fundraiser.

That was Saturday afternoon on the East Coast. By dinner, after almost twenty-four hours of Eden’s supporters filling WePay’s @’s on twitter, they responded. This is the part that raised a red red flag for me:

WePay is extremely empathetic to what Eden Alexander is facing and her hardship is unfathomable.  We are truly sorry that the rules around payment processing are limiting and force us to make tough decisions.

So:

At this point, WePay’s co-founder and CEO Bill Clerico turned up. You can watch Bill here in 2009, explaining that WePay’s origins were in a difficult situation he and his buddies had, splitting the bill for a bachelor party (at the 57 second mark): Bill maybe didn’t anticipate the actual workers in that biz he was so moved by to demand service from him. But he was direct, and at least answered some questions. (Phase two of social media blowup: “transparency!”)

That is, according to their co-founder and CEO, WePay is “forced” and “required” not just to deny service, but also to monitor their customers’ activities on WePay and on the rest of the internet.

Who are these people forcing you, WePay? And what are they requiring you to monitor that you don’t want to?

To recap so far: WePay’s CEO claims that some outside guidelines require WePay to deny service to anyone linked remotely to providing “adult content” (for which a legal definition, btw, doesn’t exist), and by “linked” they mean a RT potentially, and this is of such risky business it requires them to monitor not just all suspected sex workers but all their users. Who set these guidelines?

Right:

 

Eden’s supporters have created a new fundraiser for her. Right now she’s raised over $6500 in less than 24 hours.

Final thoughts?

3 comments

  1. Pingback: Not Waving, But Drowning: How WePay Failed Eden Alexander - Consent Culture

  2. Pingback: Not Waving, But Drowning: How WePay Failed Eden Alexander | Miss Kitty Stryker

  3. Pingback: Not Waving, But Drowning: How WePay Failed Eden Alexander - Slixa Late Night

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