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Beyond tightening provisions around hate speech and illegal content, the site essentially banned sex workers and adult content of a sexual nature. Patreon had always described itself as "not for pornography" but offered a broad latitude for projects that contained erotic content, and the change has caused much upset in the community that produces such material.
Despite Patreon's claims to the contrary, the site has clearly backed pornographers and sex workers in their projects. In , the site very publicly enabled users to receive donations through PayPal subsidiary Braintree after a long battle with the e-commerce provider.
It even emailed its adult content creators a copy is available here , telling them that "as a company we are not happy with [PayPal's] lack of transparency since it impacts the livelihoods of Adult Content creators. In her Open Letter to Patreon , artist Liara Roux describes that sense of betrayal, since Patreon had previously made moves to openly court sex workers. The artist even claims that the site offered tips on how adult content creators could use Patreon to fund movies and create websites to "reliably deliver rewards to our patrons.
Based on public information, so far the signers on https: Patreon's revised document not only excised references to erotic art, however, but also included a number of new provisions related to sex work. These included forbidding the use of Patreon donations to produce pornographic material, maintain an adults-only website or solicit money in exchange for a private webcam session.
All of which were apparently endorsed by Patreon previously, and are key mechanisms to enable sex workers to get paid. An excerpt from Patreon's previous policy that permitted sexual imagery. Roux told Engadget that Patreon's stance has caused a great deal of nervousness for the sex workers and artists who use the platform. The only way that Roux can envisage Patreon becoming a trusted brand again is if the site says that it will welcome adult content and pornography onto its platform, even if that means placing it in a hidden, adults-only section.
The fallout from Patreon's decision may mean that performers lose their entire income stream, since there are so few available options. Patreon's policy was expanded as the result of controversy the site found itself mired in over the summer. In July, Patreon was forced to suspend a number of accounts that it found had violated its content policies. Lauren Southern and the members of Defend Europe had their pages shut down after using pledged cash to attempt to block efforts to save refugees.
Not long after, Patreon also withdrew funding to It's Going Down, a hardline left-wing news website. Conte explained that Southern and her colleagues "directly obstructed a search and rescue ship in the Mediterranean," a violation of the rules on threatening or harming others. Southern denied her involvement in the project, but Conte used footage Southern herself filmed to back his claim.
Similarly, It's Going Down was suspended for doxing -- the practice of publishing an individual's address and phone number online -- and advocating a number of property crimes like "pouring concrete over railway tracks.
The CEO said that while the decision to take down the accounts was the right thing to do, failure to communicate that properly was not. The company affirmed that it would hire more human moderators in its Trust and Safety team, develop an appeals process and improve policy education.
Conte even ends the video with the line "The authority to take away a person's income is a sobering responsibility and it is not something to be done on a whim. On October 18th, Patreon legal chief Colin Sullivan posted a lengthy essay in which he talked about "taking a clearer stance on some fringe areas of adult content. But there is a disconnect between Sullivan and Conte's stance and the revised policy that was made available, because the new policy expressly bans activity that the site has previously had no issue with, as outlined in the penultimate paragraph in the relevant section:.
You can't use Patreon to raise funds in order to produce pornographic material such as maintaining a website, funding the production of movies, or providing a private webcam session. But as Motherboard's Lux Alptraum wrote back in , a long-standing problem for creators has been Patreon's equivocation on what pornography actually is. The justice, when describing what constitutes pornography, famously said, "I know it when I see it. Motherboard's report even drew attention to Four Chambers , which describes itself as "part art project, part erotica cinemascope" and would certainly constitute pornography in the eyes of plenty of folks.
And yet, at the time, the page was apparently considered safe enough to remain. Alptraum joked that the page "apparently gets a pass because the hard cocks and penetration are arty.
We sat down with a Patreon spokesperson who declined to be named for the purposes of this interview. That person reiterated that "any kind of porn has never been allowed on Patreon. The spokesperson explained that Patreon's Trust and Safety team does not go "scraping the site" looking for accounts to suspend, and relies upon user-based referrals.
And if what you're doing is in too much of a gray area, then we'll be reaching out. Instead, the company has doubled its Trust and Safety team and has provided the email address guidelines patreon. Instead, we're telling creators that there are things about their pages that need to be updated. It's an open invitation. One adult performer uses her account to create "sexy content for her fans.
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