The CEO of Patreon took to YouTube and vowed to change their policies after facing a massive wave of backlash for permanently banning independent journalist Lauren Southern — alleging that her work could lead to death.
Patreon’s ban came over Southern’s involvement with Génération Identitaire’s Defend Europe mission, which aims to stop human trafficking by blocking NGO ships that are bringing illegal migrants into Europe instead of returning them to their home nations.
In a letter to Southern announcing her permanent ban, Patreon wrote “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.” They also asserted that there was no appeals process, and nothing she could do about them taking away her income.
In May, Southern and other activists from the organization were detained by the Italian Coast Guard for attempting to halt a ship called the Aquarius, a German NGO boat, which has been illegally bringing migrants from the Libyan Sea to Sicily. Southern explained that the ship was on their way to go pick up more migrants and was empty at the time of their demonstration.
Following the attempt, the group set out to crowdfund a much larger ship, and were successful in doing so. Gen ID raised over $164,000 from over 2,000 donors on the crowdfunding platform WeSearchr. The group has vowed to pick up any refugees who were stranded in the waters, and return them to the Libyan coast guard. It is unclear how Patreon sees this as causing the “loss of life.”
After Southern’s ban, social media erupted in outrage at the platform, as people pointed out their hyper partisan stance — and hypocrisy for not banning anarchist organizations such as “It’s Going Down” which encourage violence and vandalism.
In response, Patreon CEO Jack Conte made a video explaining their logic in claiming that Southern’s actions could lead to the “loss of life” and announced new policies to make his company “more transparent.” Conte, who frequently trashes Trump on social media, also repeatedly claimed that Patreon is non-partisan, as he spewed left-wing talking points and shared images used to promote the “refugee crisis” pity party narrative.
In a move that seems like an attempt to appease the right, he also quickly stated that the website was banning the account of It’s Going Down — though he claimed that this was not an effort to pander.
Conte repeatedly states that the company does not seek to find out conclusively if their beliefs about a creator are true, but rather use a system called “Manifest Observable Behavior,” meaning that if it looks like the creator is doing something against their rules, that is good enough reason to ban them.
Conte also announced in the video that they would be changing their policies to double the size of their trust and safety team, create an appeals process, implement a warning system for users at risk of being permanently banned, begin having continuous policy reform, implement a creator council, begin “improved policy education,” and a better notification process.
While he announced that they would implement an appeals process, it is unclear if that would apply to Southern — or just creators they decide to ban in the future.
“They haven’t offered to let me appeal,” Southern told Big League Politics. “If they did, I wouldn’t bother, the future for content creators now is cutting out the middleman. I’m doing that with my website and Sam Harris is starting soon as well. Patreon shot themselves in the foot.”
Patreon user, and award-winning journalist, Tim Pool created a video responding to Conte’s assertion that banning Southern’s was not political.
“In Jack Conte’s video, he goes on to discuss Manifest Observable Behavior, that Lauren Southern has in the past said she want’s to disrupt these NGO ships, and that there is a video showing her saying ‘get in front of the boats’ and ‘stop them,’” Pool began. “Now, Jack’s perspective on what Lauren is doing, and that it may result in a loss of life, is the perspective of the left. The left believes that these NGO ships are going to rescue refugees — people who are fleeing dangerous war torn situations and may end up drowning. When they see Lauren Southern on the boat, they say ‘wow, she is trying to stop a rescue mission’ and that may result in the loss of life.”
“However, the right feels that these NGO ships are either incentivising human traffickers or flat out working in collusion with them to ferry migrants from Libya to Italy. The important thing to consider if that the situation in the Mediterranean is very, very complicated.”
Pool went on to state that there are two different scenarios happening and that the left and the right view the situation differently. “Patreon’s takedown of Lauren Southern was a left-perspective,” he added.
“The right feels that if people can just stop the NGO ships, it will de-incentivise human traffickers who are putting people on dangerous and poorly maintained ships which sink and cause people to drown. They believe that these migrants are being lured to their deaths, essentially, because they believe that these NGO ships will rescue them and once they are in international waters they are safe,” Pool said.
In Conte’s video, he specifically used the infamous image of a 3-year-old little boy lying dead on a beach — having drowned. Two men were later convicted of human trafficking for putting this child on the boat. Pool notes that this gives merit to the right-wing perspective of the crisis.
Due to the left-wing bias of Patreon, several new crowdfunding websites aimed at allowing free speech are popping up online to replace them.
Southern, formerly a Rebel Media reporter, released a book last year titled “Barbarians: How Baby Boomers, Immigrants, and Islam Screwed My Generation.” She is most well known for her stances on immigration, feminism, and the freedom of speech.