Jordan Peterson, a Canadian professor who has built a reputation for fighting against “political correctness” and “cultural Marxism,” and conservative comedian and pundit Dave Rubin announced Monday that they would launch an alternative to crowdfunding website Patreon following the removal of several high profile conservative users of the service.
In a discussion posted to YouTube Monday afternoon, Peterson said that he and his collaborators would launch a Patreon alternative “hopefully before Christmas.”
“I’ve been working on a system to allow authors and other people who engage publicly on intellectual issues to interact more effectively with their readers and viewers and listeners,” said Peterson. “What we’re going to try and do as fast as we possibly can is to set this system up on a subscriber model that’s analogous to Patreon. It will have a bunch of additional features, which I don’t want to talk about right now, and I don’t want to overpromise because the system is new.”
Peterson and Rubin were reacting to a series of bans that have taken place on Patreon
Last week, Vice News reported that Patreon had barred fringe conservative Milo Yiannopoulos after he attempted to use the platform to fund a “magnificent 2019 comeback” tour. Patreon said the decision was based on Yiannopoulos’ association with the Proud Boys, which it classifies as a hate group.
A day later, Patreon barred Carl Benjamin, a YouTuber known as Sargon of Akkad who grew to prominence through his videos attacking feminism and identity politics. Patreon says Benjamin used “racial and homophobic slurs to degrade another individual.” He has since accused Patreon of political bias on his YouTube channel, which has more than 867,000 subscribers.
Following Benjamin’s ban, Peterson posted to Patreon to express his displeasure, making an initial announcement that he was considering the creation of an alternative: “Dave Rubin and I (and others) have been discussing the establishment of a Patreon-like enterprise that will not be susceptible to arbitrary censorship, and we are making progress, but these things cannot be rushed without the possibility of excess error. But I am seriously displeased about the removal of Sargon (and many other people) and will definitely do something about it.”
On Sunday evening, author and podcaster Sam Harris, who occupies the same constellation of controversial thinkers as Peterson and Rubin — described as the “Intellectual Dark Web”— became one of the largest figures to rebel against the platform. Harris announced on Twitter that he was leaving Patreon as a result of the platforms “political bias.”
“Although I don’t share the politics of the banned members, I consider it no longer tenable to expose any part of my podcast funding to the whims of Patreon’s ‘Trust and Safety’ committee,” wrote Harris.
Harris’ publicist says he has no intention as of yet to join the new platform, referring to a section of Harris’ statements where he solicits subscriptions directly through his website.
Patreon brings in significant revenue for some
For the figures in Peterson’s realm, who are well-known for pushing against what they see as a culture of encroaching political correctness, Patreon has been a lucrative revenue stream.
According to Graphtreon, a site that tracks Patreon statistics, Harris had nearly 9,000 paying patrons at the end of November when he had the fourth-largest podcast account and the 11th-largest account overall. The site estimated that Harris made $23,000 to $65,000 from Patreon per episode.
Peterson had 8,568 patrons at the end of November, with sixth-largest video account and the fourteenth-largest account overall. It’s estimated that Peterson made $15,000 to $67,000 from Patreon per month.
Peterson and Rubin both say that they have lost followers after users begin to protest the removal of Benjamin among others, and the data supports that. Since November 30, Peterson has lost 12.4% of his subscribers according to Graphtreon. Rubin has lost 21.8%.
In emails to users, Patreon noted user backlash to the removal of Benjamin.
“I understand that some of your patrons have left due to the decision of Patreon to remove Sargon of Akkad’s creator page from our site,” the Patreon representative said in the email, adding, “We want to provide you with the tools to make your Patreon experience a successful one and keep you feeling supported whenever you may need.”
For people losing over 10% of their subscribers that support is seemingly not enough.
Other platforms have attempted to free themselves of censorship
The idea of a new platform free of censorship, even when it comes to hate groups, appears to be novel in the crowdfunding space, but in other arenas, the idea has been iterated on with mixed results.
Perhaps the most recent example is the social media website Gab, which was created following a purge of fringe Twitter users in 2016. The site, which champions “free speech” as its primary value, quickly became “extremist-friendly,” as The New York Times described it in October. The site has notably played host to neo-Nazi and White Nationalist users, including Pittsburgh synagogue shooter Robert Bowers.
Other similar spaces, such as 4Chan, have yielded similar results.
In the video announcement, Peterson didn’t address the possibility of extremism on a censorship-free platform. Peterson did not reply to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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