Despite an open letter penned by CEO Tobi Lütke in early February defending Shopify’s decision to power Breitbart’s store, the calls for Shopify remove the web-based media outlet from its customer base have not stopped. They may, in fact, have increased.
On Friday of last week, a petition featuring over 200,000 signatures was delivered to Shopify’s Ottawa headquarters. An open letter allegedly signed by 2,000 Shopify store owners was delivered at the same time, though on the petition’s homepage, there is no way to independently verify if signees are indeed owners.
The petition is led by consumer watchdog SumOfUs and its partner Sleeping Giants, an organization that works to shut down racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic news sites by discouraging companies from advertising with them.
“Shopify is hiding behind a bogus free speech argument, arguing that it cannot decide who it does or doesn’t do business with,” said SumofUs campaign strategist Emma Pullman in a statement to BetaKit. “But Shopify absolutely has the authority to decide who it does business with according to its terms of service policy, and can and should follow other tech companies like Twitter and Snapchat in adopting a hate speech policy.
“Shopify has said it does not endorse or advertise on Breitbart, but this business relationship with Breitbart is arguably more insidious. Our ask is simple: Shopify needs to stop profiting off white nationalism and take a stand for basic decency.”
With a temperature of -21 that day plus wind chill, the event saw about “three dozen” attendees, according to Pullman. The campaign strategist also alleged that Shopify locked its doors prior to the protestors’ arrival, though two unnamed individuals eventually came outside to collect the petitions while refused to comment.
Shopify, for its part, said that there were only about 10 protestors, as well as a number of journalists. BetaKit received the follow statement from Shopify regarding the petition delivery:
“Shopify supports the rights of citizens to engage in free speech and peaceful protest. Shopify is a platform that provides software to help businesses sell their products. The use of our platform by merchants is not an endorsement. Shopify does not endorse, fund, or advertise with Breitbart.”