The CEO of major online retailing platform Shopify deleted a post detailing the company’s commitment to free speech this week as the company began purging gun-related retailers.
Tobias Lutke explained his company’s previous position allowing any retailer that did not violate the law was “too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast moving internet.”
Lutke, the Washington Free Beacon reported, said that going forward, Shopify “will have to make decisions based on judgement (sic).”
“Solely deferring to the law, in this age of political gridlock, is too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast moving internet,” he wrote. “The legislative process is no match for the realities of the internet and has ground to a halt on contentious issues.”
He argued issues such as hateful content “remain legally undefined.”
“Others are legally addressed for a physical world, but pose different and more complicated risks on the internet. So we have found ourselves in a position of having to make our own decisions on some of these issues. And along the way we had to accept that neutrality is not a possibility,” he said.
Lutke, the Free Beacon reported, said that while Shopify is going back on its commitment to free speech, he still “stand(s) by the philosophy” of the original standard.
However, he did not elaborate on what that meant in practice.
Last week, Shopify deleted the long-standing account of 3D-printed gun pioneer Cody Wilson without advanced warning or explanation, the Free Beacon reported.
Shopify’s updated Acceptable Use Policy bars the sale of any semiautomatic firearm capable of accepting a magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds.
The policy incorporates the vast majority of modern firearms for sale in the United States, the Free Beacon noted, as well as many firearms accessories such as pistol grips and barrel shrouds.
Among the banned gun retailers is Florida-based Spike’s Tactical, which built its website on Shopify’s platform.
Cole Leleux, general manager of Spike’s Tactical, said in a statement the decision “will have significant ramifications to our business and should concern every online retailer and Second Amendment supporter.”
“We have invested more than $100,000 in the development of our Shopify store, which will disappear once these policies go into effect,” he said.
Another retailer, Rare Breed Firearms, said it stands to lose $40,000 worth of investment in its Shopify storefront.