Neuroscientist Sam Harris has dealt a public relations nightmare to crowdfunding platform Patreon by blasting its “Trust and Safety” team while announcing his plan to drop the platform within 24 hours.
The author of “Free Will” told his 1 million-plus Twitter followers Sunday that crowdfunding on Patreon these days is like dealing with a fickle tyrant, indirectly referencing the recent ban of Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, as an example of its arbitrarily applied standards.
“As many of you know the crowdfunding site Patreon has banned several prominent content creators from its platform,” he tweeted. “While the company insists that each was in violation of its terms of service, these recent expulsions seem more readily explained by 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.
“I will deleting my Patreon account tomorrow,” he continued. “If you want to continue sponsoring my work, I encourage you to open a subscription at samharris.org/subscribe.”
Mr. Harris, a well-known atheist and a critic of religion, has often come under fire from the left for his criticisms of Islam. His commentary made national headlines in October 2014 when actor Ben Affleck called it “gross” and “racist” during HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
“Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy,” he said during the show. “They’ll criticize white theocracy. They’ll criticize Christians. They’ll still get agitated over the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984, but when you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us.”
Patreon’s critics, which includes “12 Rules for Life” author Jordan B. Peterson and conservative author Ben Shapiro, argue that vague terms of conditions allow tech companies to act politically while claiming neutrality.
“If you don’t like these people, then maybe you should just explain why they’re wrong and tell people not to give them money for their services,” Mr. Shapiro said during a recent podcast. “Patreon has now banned [Sargon of Akkad and others] without any clear standard of why the ban happened in the first place. This comes after Alex Jones was banned from Twitter forever after Apple and Spotify removed his podcasts.”
“Again, I don’t have to agree with any of these people to recognize that social media has no standards and are unevenly applying those standards as much as they possibly want,” the conservative continued. “Listen, there will come a point where Patreon bans … Jordan Peterson; or they come after Dave Rubin; or they come after Mark Levin; or they come after Sean Hannity, or they come after everyone who they disagree with on any level. Why? Because they are radically disconnected from real life. “
Mr. Benjamin was banned this month after Patreon’s “Trust and Safety” staff viewed one of his guest appearances from 10 months ago on a small YouTube channel.
He discussed an epithet often used by his racist critics, adopted their definition for the sake of argument, and said they were behaving like white versions of the word.
December 17, 2018
• Douglas Ernst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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