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PayPal talks up its terrible payment service: 'At least we're not iCloud'

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PayPal definitely does not run iCloud. It did not, through a confusing backup process and potentially weak security system, make it easier for hackers to collect and leak hundreds of nude pictures of female celebrities, which were then widely disseminated on 4chan and Reddit. It would like New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle readers to know that it knows we "want our money safer than our selfies," and therefore allows us to "securely buy anything with just one touch," unlike the not-yet-launched Apple Pay, whose security practices remain untested. Apple notably left PayPal off its list of preferred payment providers, and PayPal is frankly late to the game in discussing how much you should trust the new payment system.

Of course, unlike the security experts it's echoing, PayPal did freeze €600,000 in Minecraft developer Notch's account because the massive influx of sales constituted a "suspicious withdrawal or deposit," allegedly telling him it would take weeks to sort through. (After the story broke, the account was unlocked three days later, though PayPal allegedly held 5 percent of sales in temporary "reserve.")

But it doesn't run iCloud.

PayPal shut down a Secret Santa fundraiser run by the blog Regretsy because of confusion over its donation policy, allegedly demanding that they refund the money but keeping the processing fees. It then allegedly froze Regretsy founder April Winchell's personal account after she complained, while providing opaque and hostile customer service. (After the story broke, PayPal muddled through an apology and said it would donate a $100 gift card to the families Regretsy was trying to help. Apparently the issue, once again, was donations coming in fast enough that PayPal flagged the account activity as suspicious.)

But it doesn't run iCloud.

PayPal allegedly threatened to freeze processing capabilities for the entirety of crowdfunding site Patreon if it didn't immediately hide any campaigns promoting "adult content," which included, among other things, porn performer Kitty Stryker's (non-pornographic) blog on feminism and sexuality.

Once again, though, not iCloud.

PayPal allegedly failed to fix a hole in its two-factor security until its discoverer, a 17-year-old bug hunter, published it publicly two months later.

Still not iCloud.

PayPal was trusted with $125 billion in funds from merchants in 2013, and it's moved into a role once played only by huge banks and credit card companies. It can be expected to screw up sometimes, at least outside the vital security front. It's unambiguously defended itself against other accusations, like a charge that it gave hackers access to a customer's account information. But it handles ridiculous amounts of money. People's livelihoods are in its hands. And too often, it makes those people angry with unclear policies, bad feedback, and an inflexibility that doesn't match its up-to-the-minute, payment-system-of-the-future message. Apple needs to shape up, but this doesn't make PayPal look any better.

A pox on both their houses.