SPLC Influence Waning? Facebook, PayPal Match 'Giving Tuesday' Donations to 'Hate Groups'

On Tuesday, Facebook and PayPal promised to match user donations to verified non-profits, up to $7 million, on a first come first served basis. While social media companies have long relied on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to blacklist "hate groups," many SPLC-marked "hate groups" are "verified" on Facebook, and it seems they will be receiving the social media company's match. This arguably represents a decrease in the SPLC's ability to silence its competitors on social media.

"We have seen corporations and even the news media grow increasingly skeptical of SPLC’s discredited data, map, and its various lists," Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, executive vice president at the Family Research Council (FRC), told PJ Media on Tuesday. The SPLC marked FRC an anti-LGBT hate group" more than a decade ago, and this designation inspired a terrorist attack against the organization in 2012.

The SPLC gained impressive traction after the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va. last year, and social media companies like Apple openly partnered with this organization. Amazon dropped SPLC-designated "hate groups" from its charity arm, AmazonSmile, leading to at least one major lawsuit from D. James Kennedy Ministries. The SPLC has led a coalition of liberal groups funded by George Soros in demanding the removal of conservative "hate speech" from the Internet.

Yet the SPLC has also taken massive hits to its credibility. Last year, 47 non-profit leaders denounced the group in an open letter to the media. In June, the SPLC paid $3.75 million to settle a defamation lawsuit from Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim reformer whom it had attacked as an "Anti-Islamic Extremist." After that settlement, no less than 60 organizations announced they were considering separate defamation suits.

Boykin argued that corporations have grown increasingly skeptical of the SPLC. "This trend accelerated following the SPLC's multi-million dollar defamation settlement earlier this year," he argued. "Across the political spectrum, there is an awareness of what the SPLC has become: a thoroughly disgraced organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with false and defamatory smears that endangers the lives of those targeted with it."

In statements to PJ Media on Tuesday, both Facebook and PayPal admitted that groups like the FRC — which have been attacked by the SPLC but nevertheless have a "verified" blue check mark on Facebook — are entirely eligible for the "Giving Tuesday" matching grants.

"All verified U.S. nonprofits on Facebook are eligible to receive matching ($7M from PayPal and Facebook), but it is on a first come first serve basis," Eric Porterfield, a spokesman for Facebook, told PJ Media.

He added that non-profit organizations need not specifically ask Facebook for the matching grants — any donations Facebook users make through Facebook's giving platform will be automatically considered for the money.

"First come first serve means we match donations as they come in, until the match runs out. The match started at 5 a.m. PST/8 a.m. EST and any U.S. nonprofit on Facebook that received donations will received matching funds if they got them before the match ran out," Porterfield explained.

He also announced that "people who donated on #GivingTuesday will receive an email after November 29, 2018 letting them know if their donation was matched." Similarly, non-pforit organizations "will receive an update email from Facebook about donations made on #GivingTuesday, including matched donations, after November 29, 2018."

Many non-profits attacked by the SPLC have verified blue check marks on Facebook and have indeed asked for donations on "Giving Tuesday." Such groups include FRC, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), ACT for America, and Prager University, which has faced direct attacks from Facebook in the past.

As for PayPal, the organization gave no indication that non-profits attacked by the SPLC would be considered ineligible for the matching grant.

"PayPal works to ensure that organizations meet the requirements for enrollment and adhere to our Acceptable Use Policy. Per company policy, PayPal does not disclose specific account information," Kim Eichorn, a spokeswoman for PayPal, told PJ Media in an email statement.

She added that "PayPal’s policy is not to allow our services to be used for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance." The PayPal spokeswoman did not clarify, however, how the company defines "hate."

While no one wants to support "hate," different organizations define the term differently. The SPLC has used it as a cudgel to attack its political opponents, ranging from conservative Christian groups to immigration watch-dogs to Muslim reformers like Maajid Nawaz. Many have responded, calling the SPLC itself a "hate group." (I prefer the more precise term, "defamation organization," but it doesn't carry the same sting.)

Neither Facebook nor PayPal explained whether they consider SPLC-designated "hate groups" or the SPLC itself to constitute promoters of "hate."

Facebook users and organizations like ACT for America, ADF, FRC, and PragerU will see on November 29 whether Facebook and PayPal put their money where their mouths are. If they did indeed match contributions to SPLC-defamed "hate groups," that would mark an important step in the decreasing influence of this defamation organization.

However, at least one conservative Facebook user — connected with an organization target by the SPLC — has told PJ Media that her Facebook posts promoting her organization's "Giving Tuesday" drive have been deleted without explanation.

Facebook has a great deal to prove when it comes to treating conservatives equally, but this "Giving Tuesday" drive may end up a significant step in that direction. As for the SPLC, the more organizations like Facebook agree to support — in however limited a fashion — the falsely labeled "hate groups," the more Americans in general will learn just how wrong its "hate" label really is.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.