Patreon Caves to Tim Pool and the Alt-Right, Bans IGD
On Friday July 28th, Patreon, a crowdfunding company based in San Francisco that allows people to make monthly donations to various projects, artists, and musicians, took down our account. At the exact same time, Patreon CEO Jack Conte released a ten minute video which touched briefly on the banning of IGD as well as Canadian Alt-Right media personality Lauren Southern’s account only days before. Interestingly, Conte, who himself has a Patreon which brings in 4K a month and is part of the musical group, Pomplamoose, stated in the video that Lauren Southern’s actions led to her being banned, that Patreon and Conte support “free speech,” but then went on to state that an article that IGD republished (aka speech) led to us being kicked off the platform.
Despite the picture painted by Conte, Patreon has deactivated our account due to pressure from the Alt-Right – full stop. As we will show, Patreon has acted with a complete lack of professionalism; it not only broke under pressure from the Alt-Right but moreover used information handed to them from a group which openly embraces white supremacy and fascism, and lastly, it has sent a message to everyone that uses and donates on Patreon, that if you piss off the Alt-Right, you might be next.
Patreon and the Alt-Right
Over the course of the past six weeks, It’s Going Down has been the target of a sustained campaign by the Alt-Right which on Friday culminated in the shutdown of our Patreon account. As we’ve previously documented, it started when a Hitler-praising, “Pepe the frog is not a racist meme” troll posted a story attacking IGD that was then picked up and run almost verbatim by Fox News. Other Alt-Right sites jumped on the fabricated-outrage bandwagon and IGD got some love on two more Fox News segments, including one on Watter’s World, where a pro-Trump troll “BG Kumbi” posed as a ‘member of antifa’ and the author of an essay that had appeared on IGD.
Tucker Carlson hits new low by hosting Alt-Right troll Ian Miles Cheong on to talk about IGD article. pic.twitter.com/5742ejcD7c
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 12, 2017
— Scott Campbell (@incandesceinto) June 24, 2017
A week later, a “bounty” was placed on the “transnational IGD crime syndicate” by the Alt-Right’s dumpster fire of a crowd-funding site, Wesearchr (known most for stealing the money of those who donate and also for raising over 150K to cover legal fees for neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer), promising thousands to those who contributed to attempts to dox editors of IGD. Guess speech isn’t free!
Additionally, picking up on murmurings from the intellectual powerhouses at 4chan’s /pol/ board, neo-Nazi organizer Nathan Damigo published an article on AltRight.com, the website run by white nationalist Richard Spencer, calling for a campaign to get Patreon to shut down IGD’s account. If there is one thing the Alt-Right is good at it is sweaty-palmed trolling and the call reverberated widely, with its own #DefundAntifa hashtag.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 28, 2017
This call was also boosted by Kyle Chapman, aka “Based Stickman,” who took to the campaign a step further, claiming that Virginia shooter James Hodgkinson was a ‘member of antifa’ based on the fact that he was a part of several anti-Trump Facebook groups, and IGD was connected to that, or something so…Defund Antifa! This is ironic, because not only did these Facebook groups Hodgkinson was a part of have nothing to do with anarchism or antifascism, but that Kyle Chapman not only likes and promotes violent neo-Nazi groups on social media, but is a part of various Facebook forums that include white supremacists.
But the campaign particularly picked up steam when Patreon removed the account of white nationalist Lauren Southern on July 20th. Southern was raising funds to join Defend Europe, an effort headed by white nationalists in ‘Generation Identity’ that have purchased a boat to physically block the rescue of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. Just today, it has been reported that the Defend Europe boat is in hot water, after they used forged documents and are accused of engaging in human trafficking.
Defend Europe, an anti-immigrant group that attempts to disrupt humanitarian search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea, recently chartered a boat that was stopped in a Cyprus port, where several members were arrested for forging documents and engaging in potential human trafficking.
The members were stopped in and deported from a sea port in the self-declared Turkish state of Northern Cyprus Thursday after spending two days in detention for document forgery and potential human trafficking of 20 Sri Lankan nationals who were aboard the C-Star, the campaign’s ship. Turkish Cypriot authorities deported nine crew members, including the ship’s captain and a German “second captain” believed to be neo-Nazi Alexander Schleyer. The authorities also transferred the director of the company that owns the ship, Sven Tomas Egerstrom, to Greek-controlled Cyprus for further questioning.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) June 5, 2017
That Patreon would not let Southern use its platform to raise funds to try and kill some of the world’s most vulnerable inhabitants gravely offended the delicate sensibilities of the Alt-Right. Southern fanboy and fellow traveler Tim Pool – best known for fleeing Milwaukee out of fear of Black people and being a bald 20 something who chooses to still wear a ski cap throughout the summer – jumped into the fray with a video claiming Patreon was hypocritical for banning Southern but not IGD. Ian Miles Cheong, now writing for Tucker Carlson’s website, The Daily Caller, also rallied to remove IGD from Patreon. Around the same time, IGD editors received word that Tim Pool was reaching out to Patreon CEO Jack Conte in a personal capacity, in order to get our account deleted. The “how can Patreon ban Southern but not IGD?” talking point spread and on Friday, July 28th, Patreon obliged by shutting down our account.
The move by Patreon to shut down IGD can only be understood as a capitulation of a major corporation to the Alt-Right, and this isn’t something that should be easily brushed aside by anyone. Furthermore, if anyone still had any illusions that Tim Pool is either ‘neutral’ or a ‘journalist’ who just happens to hang out with all of the same neo-Nazis and members of the Alt-Right he gives a platform to, we hope that this incident further shines a light onto what side of the fence he is actively a part of. Tim Pool is not a neutral party that is fighting for “truth” or “journalism,” he is an Alt-Right troll who goes to bat for his white nationalist friends who also sign his checks.
Complete Lack of Professionalism
The same day that IGD received an email that our account had been removed, Patreon CEO Jack Conte released a ten-minute video to explain the decision. He framed the video as being an innovative example of tech company transparency, emphasized that the decision to ban Southern and IGD had nothing to do with politics, and that the fact both were banned within a week of each other was merely coincidental.
This is how I think about Patreon's content policy, Lauren Southern, Defend Europe, IGD, and more: https://t.co/23Bmip8x7A
— Jack Conte (@jackconte) July 28, 2017
This is total and complete bullshit. IGD was banned as an act of appeasement to the Alt-Right. Behind the gimmicks and wonky terms about “manifest observable behavior,” the entirety of Conte’s video is an attempt to pacify the trolls. The vast majority of it is dedicated to explaining in detail and with ample video, photographic and text evidence as to why Patreon banned Southern – clearly in the hopes that her supporters would be convinced as to the validity of Patreon’s decision. The brief section on IGD’s banning mentions two articles that were reposted on IGD, and involved minimal explanation and not even a screenshot to accompany it. Clearly, Conte was not concerned that the intended audience would need convincing that IGD should be banned, because the intended audience was the Alt-Right.
It’s worth noting that the two articles on IGD cited in Conte’s video are ones that were identified by Alt-Right sites such as Anime Right News and Far Left Watch and regurgitated by morons such as Tim Pool.
CEO of Patreon reaching out to talk with Alt-Right troll Tim Pool.
Thus, Patreon’s rationale for banning IGD was provided by the Alt-Right and duly recited back to them by Patreon’s CEO. It was also the Alt-Right who established an equivalency between Southern and IGD. In his video, Conte again plays their tune, lumping IGD – a news website – with a white nationalist dedicated to the drowning of Black and Brown bodies in the Mediterranean, all to placate a group of racists who think dead refugees are a great thing. The only innovation Conte has made with this action is setting a new low when it comes to pandering to the whiny outrage of white supremacists. With behavior like this, is it any wonder so many people hate techies?
Email from Patreon’s “Trust and Safety” Team.
When IGD first learned of the campaign against our Patreon in June, we reached out to Patreon and offered to address any concerns they might have. At the time, they said they had none and we were all good. Despite this attempt to open a dialogue, a few weeks later they banned us out of the blue. They also did it on Friday afternoon (the best time of the week to avoid media attention) and at the end of the month. What Patreon did is the equivalent of firing you without notice and to top it off refusing to pay you your wages from the previous month. Oh – and then the CEO of the company making a video about why they fired you.
What kind of company is this?
But Why Did Patreon Drop Us?
Patreon has selected two articles that they say violate their standards. Both are reposts from other websites and are not authored by IGD and are stated as such on ItsGoingDown.org.
The first is a short article published this month about a GOP official with ties to neo-Nazi groups. In the post, it includes an image of a flyer that includes the person’s phone number and email. According to Patreon via email:
“After creating a Patreon page, any Creator caught in the act or convicted of … malicious doxing … or encouraging others to do the aforementioned harmful activities may be banned from using Patreon.”
Is IGD guilty of “malicious doxxing” for giving a platform to people in Texas trying to expose someone within the ruling party of the United States as connected to white supremacist groups? How is this outside of the realm of what a news website is supposed to do? How are we by simply including a photo of a flyer that includes a phone number and email also by extension promoting anyone to do anything? According to Patreon we are, but then again Patreon also got its information from those same white supremacists, so you be the judge.
Second, Patreon took offense to an anonymous communique that was submitted to Puget Sound Anarchists and then reposted to IGD. In the article, a group of people claimed responsibility for manipulating wires on train tracks to send a message to a train carrying fracking equipment that there was a block on the tracks. They claim to have then poured concrete on the tracks but only after sending messages to the train that there was a blockage, causing the train to stop. The stated goal of the people carrying out the action was not to cause any harm to the workers, but simply to stop the train literally in it’s tracks. It should also be noted that this article is from April of this year, about two months before IGD even joined Patreon.
According to people like Tim Pool and the Alt-Right however, this action amounts to “eco-terrorism,” a term used widely by the FBI in various investigations into ecological direct action groups in the early 2000s. According to Patreon:
“We don’t allow funds to be collected for organizations that promote, forums that distribute, or anything else that primarily facilitates harmful or dangerous activities.”
Obviously such language is meant to be vague and this works in Patreon’s favor. As a news website, IGD is often attacked, by both liberals and the Alt-Right, for giving space to the kinds of things other news websites do not report on. Overall, our very existence is meant to give space and a voice to social movements, struggles, and acts of rebellion which are seen as anathema by many across the political spectrum. At the same time, is a group of people that are taking action against fracking equipment by stopping a train newsworthy? Yes. Is stopping a train through the use of illegal tactics controversial? Of course. Is such an act violent, harmful, or dangerous, even if the stated goal is not to injure people or use tactics which could do so? Depends on who you ask.
Simply, the result of Patreon’s actions appeal to a false sense of neutrality by playing into the larger American politic which equates the anarchist movement and the anti-capitalist Left with the far-Right. The two are not one in the same, and the actions of Lauren Southern are not the same as IGD. How Patreon arrived at their conclusion was influenced by politics but also a newly invented tech ethos: Manifest Observable Behavior (MOB). This reliance on data as ‘truth’ is thought of as a new way of being neutral while skipping out on ethical questions.
But one thing is clear, by Patreon drudging up a two month old article that was spoon fed to them by the Alt-Right, it shows a lot about the people who are running Patreon and their desire to find any reason to kick us out.
Patreon Working with the Alt-Right Should Serve As a Warning to Others
To be crystal clear, Patreon is home to a host of Alt-Right projects, media websites, and organizations. As Mother Jones wrote:
The rival crowdfunding site Patreon has been more welcoming to these voices; it now hosts Rubin, Cernovich, Southern, Baked Alaska, and a number of lesser-known figures such alt-right sci-fi novelist and video blogger Brittany Pettibone, who, like Chapman, was booted from GoFundMe for violating its terms of service.
This includes media outfits who openly work with neo-Nazis groups such as The Red Elephants, Alt-Right Vlogger Tara McCarthy, white nationalist speaker and livestreamer Baked Alaska who will speaking at a neo-Nazi rally on August 12th in Virginia, as well as AltRight.com author Brittany Pettibone, who along with Lauren Southern is currently taking part in the efforts to attack refugees.
Clip from Livestream of ‘The Red Elephants,’ an Alt-Right media website with a Patreon account.
Just like as Berkeley police arrested and filed charges against antifascists at the urging of 4chan, or as universities around the country have punished professors for expressing views that differ from white supremacists, Patreon is the latest institution to pathetically cave into Alt-Right pressure. While several of our comrades rely on Patreon, we urge everyone to consider if they want to utilize and support a platform that folds so easily to the gaseous bile emanating from the Alt-Right sewer. If they can do it to us, they can do it to you.
A Message to Our Supporters
IGD has been around for more than two years and we have only utilized Patreon since May. We’re not going anywhere. The frogs may be beating off onto their swastika shaped lily pads over this, but truth be told we were fundraising much more before Patreon, and will continue to do so afterwards. In short for everyone that has reached out to us, thank you, but even if every avenue for finding a way to monetarily sustain this site was destroyed, we’d still do this shit for free.
And there are still several ways you can support us. If you value the work we do and want to stand in solidarity with us against this wave of Alt-Right attacks, please consider donating or picking up some merch if you’re able. We have also have a brand new web store, allowing you to make monthly donations. Please do so here.
More importantly, keep organizing and fighting back where you are, and keep sending us more content to grow and expand this project.
Contact Patreon and Jack Conte
We urge supporters and readers to contact both Patreon CEO Jack Conte as well as Patreon directly. We have two simple demands:
- Pay us our money from July. Patreon shut down our account literally one business day before the billing cycle would have ended. We demand that we receive our payment from the month of July. To add insult to injury, when Patreon kicked off Lauren Southern, this is the same thing they offered to do for her. In an email they wrote to her:
It appears that you are currently raising funds in order to take part in activities that are likely to cause loss of life. We have therefore decided to remove your page from Patreon, and paid out your final balance of $95.00 to you.
- Allow us access to our Patrons data and contact information. Currently, we have no way of sending rewards to Patrons or sending people within our network an email explaining what has happened or how they can choose to support us in the future. The fact that Patreon has their system set up like this should also serve as a warning to everyone that uses the service.
Email Jack Conte and Patreon Script:
Dear Jack Conte,
I am writing because I am disgusted that Patreon.com and you as the acting CEO have bowed to Alt-Right pressure and dismissed ItsGoingDown.org. Currently in the United States, the Alt-Right is growing on social media and promoting a worldview that is pro-genocide, anti-Semitic, and seeks to create an all white fascist State. Groups that are giving a platform to oppose these views are under threat from the Alt-Right, and by parroting their talking points, you are helping them silence anyone who speaks out.
I demand that you both pay ItsGoingDown.org for the month of July, which they would have received only a few days after you decided to bow to Alt-Right pressure, and also give them access to their Patrons info.
What Patreon.com has done is not a good look. By kicking off IGD you have put a target on the backs of each and every person who uses Patreon.com to potentially be kicked off should the Alt-Right troll army decide that they are next. Do you really want to be known as the company that gives in to neo-Nazis and white supremacists?
Jack Conte: firstname.lastname@example.org