Is Visa Subsidiary Alex Jones’ Last Refuge?

Alex Jones, founder and lead host of Infowars, has been booted off nearly every social media platform, lost access to advertising and web-hosting services, and is now denied service by the payment processor PayPal—but he is still able to generate revenue from his operation using a Visa-owned payment solution called Authorize.Net.

Because of his hateful rhetoric and bad-faith proliferation of conspiracy theories, Jones has been banned from using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, MailChimp, PayPal, and many online advertising services.

Authorize.Net services, according to its website, “more than 430,000 merchants, handling more than 1 billion transactions and $149 billion in payments every year.” Authorize.Net’s parent company is CyberSource, which Visa acquired in 2010. One of the merchants the service works with is the Infowars web store, where Jones sells nutritional supplements and prepper supplies at inflated prices. The code running the Infowars checkout page, specifically the credit card verification system, routes to Authorize.Net.

(Screenshot / Infowars Store)

In the terms of use presented on Authorize.Net’s website, the payment processor does not require users agree to any policies forbidding them from using the service to facilitate hate and harassment online. Color of Change, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy group, lists Visa as an “engaged” company, meaning that Visa has “no acceptable use policy but has actively removed groups under pressure,” including white supremacist groups. In the terms listed, the company says it does not assume responsibility for what its clients do and sell and that it does not guarantee “you will be satisfied with their products, services or practices.”

The Visa offshoot is currently the only method of online payment processing used by Infowars and Jones. As Right Wing Watch and ThinkProgress reported, in the context of white supremacist groups, payment processors are fundamental to sustaining those who profit from extreme rhetoric online.

Last month, PayPal, a finance corporation with more explicit policies forbidding those engaging in hateful activities from using its services, cut ties with Infowars and ceased to handle transactions for the Infowars web store. The move came after Right Wing Watch reported that Infowars regularly violated PayPal’s terms of service and reached the company for comment. In a statement issued to USA Today, PayPal said:

[PayPal] undertook an extensive review of the Infowars sites, and found instances that promoted hate and discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and religions that run counter to our core value of inclusion.

Right Wing Watch reached out via email to the press contact provided on the CyberSource website to inquire whether the company had considered or conducted a similar review process at its company and whether it would share the findings if it had done so. We did not receive a response before publication but will update this piece if we receive a response.