Shopify's CEO is defending the e-commerce company's decision to keep hosting an online store for the controversial right-wing U.S. media organization Breitbart News.
Tobi Lutke posted a statement online Wednesday that says he has received more than 10,000 messages asking the Ottawa-based company to stop hosting Breitbart's online store.
But Lutke says that to do so would be an act of censorship and would interfere with the free exchange of goods that is at the heart of commerce.
Lutke argues that products are a form of speech and that it's important to defend free speech, even if the company doesn't agree with some of the voices.
"We don’t like Breitbart, but products are speech and we are pro free speech," Lutke wrote in the statement. "This means protecting the right of organizations to use our platform even if they are unpopular or if we disagree with their premise, as long as they are within the law. That being said, if Breitbart calls us tomorrow and tells us that they are going to switch to another platform, we would be delighted."
Critics have accused Breitbart News of propagating hate speech such as racism and misogyny.
"When we kick off a merchant, we're asserting our own moral code as the superior one," Lutke said in the statement.
"But who gets to define that moral code? Where would it begin and end? Who gets to decide what can be sold and what can't? If we start blocking out voices, we would fall short of our goals as a company to make commerce better for everyone. Instead, we would have a biased and diminished platform."