Shopify defends its decision not to block right-wing group using its product
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Wednesday, January 11, 2017 5:38PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 11, 2017 7:11PM EST
An on-line petition is trying to shame Ottawa-based Shopify in order to get it to break any business connection with Breitbart News; an alt-right, pro-Trump media organization.
Shopify is being accused of endorsing hate by providing a platform for the on-line store run by Breitbart News.
Shopify has been a good news story since it started as an on-line snowboard store more than ten years ago.
Now, it's a cool place for even the Prime Minister to hang out, as he did in December, during Computer Science Education Week. But an on-line petition is calling out Shopify telling it to "stop endorsing hate and to end its relationship with Breitbart News”.
Breitbart is a controversial right-wing media website. Its former executive chairman, Steve Bannon, is now Donald Trump's top advisor. Breitbart News uses Shopify's software to sell its merchandise and that has prompted the 20-thousand name petition.
“They're trying to demonize Shopify,” says Carleton University’s Ian Lee, with the Sprott School of Business, “it's guilt by association; that is what it is.”
Ian Lee focuses on international issues and says Shopify has done nothing wrong.
“I don't think we are in Canada where we turn the decision making of any major corporation, whether it's at Carleton University, Shopify or CTV News, over to a small number of unelected, unaccountable social activists.”
Shopify has been around for a little more than a decade, providing e-commerce solutions for on-line stores in more than 100 countries throughout the world. The on-line petition claims that Breitbart News is one company that Shopify can do without.
Shopify says its core philosophy is a free and open market. In a statement, Alexandra Clark, the
Director, Policy and Government Affairs for Shopify said,
“It's as true today as it was back then. If a merchant is selling products legally in the jurisdiction in which they are operating, they can use our software."
As far as Ian Lee is concerned, Canada has bigger fish to fry on trade and tax issues with the Trump administration coming in place.
“We’ve got to now focus on the problems facing us,” Lee says, “the border adjustment tax threat, the demands to renegotiate NAFTA. This (petition) isn't even on the top one thousand list of whether one of our leading software companies is selling software to a company allied to the Trump administration.”
The petition was started by a group called the SumofUs and claims that it's already helped persuade hundreds of companies to divest themselves of any connection or advertising with Breitbart News.