How Shopify's Cancel Culture and Censorship Tried To Ruin My Business

How Shopify's Cancel Culture and Censorship Tried To Ruin My Business

Leather Lollipop - Wynter Nash on 5th Sep 2020

Have you been a victim of #CancelCulture? I have and it's absolutely ridiculous. To think that there are people in America and Canada and indeed, all over the world that think that if you have different views or beliefs than they do, that you have no right to exist and indeed you should be canceled and ruined, the sooner the better.

Leather Lollipop was my first online store. I now have three online stores. In August of 2020, I received an email from the "legal department" of Shopify (my previous ecommerce platform or web host). The email was a threatening and I suppose it was meant to scare me into doing their will. The email said that I had so many days to remove any and all products from my store that depicted the Confederate Flag. They said that under their Acceptable Use Policy, they considered the Confederate Flag to be "hateful content". Though nowhere on that page of Shopify's site does it mention the Confederate Flag, I was told that THEY feel it is "hateful content".

I paid them a monthly hosting fee plus they got a percentage of all my sales (times three stores) because Shopify also was my credit card merchant account (my credit card processor). I had been with Shopify since 2016 after leaving my long time ecommerce platform for what I had THOUGHT was a better platform.

The owner of Shopify, Tobi Lutke, seemed to be a halfway decent person back in 2017 when he wrote an article for Medium "In Support of Free Speech". Back then the liberals and so-called Social Justice Warriors on Twitter, etc. were engaging with Tobi Lutke about kicking Breitbart's online store off of their Shopify ecommerce platform. In fact, Tobi Lutke says in that article that "Shopify is an unlikely defender of Breitbart’s right to sell products. I’m a liberally minded immigrant, leading a predominantly liberal workforce, hailing from predominantly liberal cities and countries. I’m against exclusion of any kind — whether that’s restricting people from Muslim-majority nations from entering the US, or kicking merchants off our platform if they’re operating within the law.

Commerce is a powerful, underestimated form of expression. We use it to cast a vote with every product we buy. It’s a direct expression of democracy. This is why our mission at Shopify is to protect that form of expression and make it better for everyone, not just for those we agree with."

So, back in 2017 liberal Tobi Lutke understood that what products we choose to buy or sell is a form of freedom of speech and though they were being hounded by these liberal lunatics online about cutting ties with Breitbart, he refused to do so. I applauded him for that back then. 

However, here we are in 2020, you know, the year that everyone seems to have lost their collective minds (or at least liberals have). Now, in 2020, Tobi Lutke caved to the pressure of his liberal followers. See, Tobi Lutke is the second richest man in Canada, a billionaire in fact. Small businesses all over the world have made Tobi Lutke the success he is today, by using Shopify's hosting service and credit card processing service. Tobi Lutke has enough money to last him the rest of his life, unlike most of his customers. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing him for becoming very successful and being a billionaire, I firmly believe in capitalism and will never fault him for being successful. What I DO fault Tobi Lutke for is caving into his liberal beliefs and caving in to the mob. Tobi Lutke does not care about those of us who helped him become so successful and rich. His "legal department" at Shopify did not give a damn that they were hurting my business and my bottom line by telling me to remove my best selling products. 

Unlike Tobi Lutke, I did NOT cave. I moved all three of my stores to a new ecommerce platform that I spoke to before I moved to them to make sure they would not try this censoring and bullying tactic that Shopify did and they promised that as long as we are selling legal products, it matters not to them. So, it took money I could have used for other things and it has taken a LOT of hours, days, weeks, to get my stores moved, but I did it. It would have been much easier to just remove those "offensive" products, however, I am not one that likes to lay down and be walked all over like a dirty door mat. That was not happening.

It has caused my traffic and orders to drop though, as whenever you move to another webhost, the URL's of each product (over 1400 on each store) change and too often website visitors clicked on one of our products that were on another site somewhere and instead of them seeing the expected product they ended up on a 404 Page Not Found error page. The products are still here in my store, just the website URL had changed a bit. 

So, to summarize, this whole Cancel Culture crap needs to stop. It's wrong to try to ruin someones business and income and the way they feed their family, just because you disagree with them politically. It happens all the time though. Many people have been victims of Cancel Culture, for example, Conservative talk show hosts, like Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingraham, just because liberals do not like what they have to say, they went after their show's advertisers and indeed got some of the advertisers to cancel  their advertising on their shows. 

I've talked to many others that have been the victim of Shopify's Cancel Culture and Censorship. Some people have been really hurt by this. Some people's stores only sell Confederate Flag products and therefore if they removed everything like Shopify told them to do, they would have nothing to sell. This affected a LOT of merchants online. Forced to comply to threatened with having their stores shut down. Forced to move (like myself) and lose business and website traffic in the process, but hey, Tobi Lutke is still a billionaire so who the hell cares right?

I would love to hear from you if you too have been a victim of Cancel Culture. What happened and what did you do about it, if anything? We need to get together and take down those who would take us down. If we do not fight back, we will continue to lose more and more of our freedom.

If you are on Twitter and would like to tell Tobi Lutke what you think about this threatening and bullying and censoring of small business owners, his handle on Twitter is @Tobi, be sure to let him know what you think about him.

Thanks for "listening".