Citibank Admits to Screening Customers for Content
Although Citibank has restored access to Fabulis CEO Jason Goldberg’s accounts and apologized for attempting to sever their business relationship with his company over its “objectionable” content (because a social networking site for gay men is inherently objectionable) Citibank also admitted that it’s company policy not to work with businesses due to moral objections. As explained in the Wall Street Journal:
But Deal Journal’s Peter Lattman last week quoted a different statement from a Citi spokeswoman: “While we don’t comment on our customers, we typically decline accounts associated with content that the general public may potentially find inappropriate or offensive.”
Apparently, fearing the wrath of the religious right trumps all other business considerations: the last documented company to be told it wasn’t allowed to open a Citibank account was an online retailer, sillyunderwear.com, which embroiders the words “Too Big To Fail” in red lettering on white briefs. Who knew a major multinational corporation would fear the wrath of the hordes of customers who would not stand for their money being stored in the same bank as a joke underwear retailer!
Yesterday, Citibank claimed that for Internet businesses — and Internet businesses only — they “specifically reserve the right not to open, or to suspend, an account if we find illegal or discriminatory content.” Unfortunately, Citibank’s employees put those directions into practice by reviewing the websites and blogs of all its customers and then declining to work with any business that might bother its more socially conservative clientele.