Financial blacklisting

Allum Bokhari traces it back to the credit card companies and the SPLC:

Crowdfunding platforms like Patreon, which allow online content creators to collect donations from their supporters, are frequently cast as the primary villains in financial blacklisting. Patreon’s recent ban of YouTuber Carl Benjamin, better known by his moniker Sargon of Akkad, triggered a crisis for the platform. Both donors and creators — including prominent atheist Sam Harris — quit the platform in protest, while Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin pledged to create an alternative platform that is pro-free speech.

But Patreon and other crowdfunding platforms are not the real villains. They are dependent on the whims of the credit card companies, something that was already apparent in August when Mastercard forced them to withdraw service from Robert Spencer. We now know that the credit card companies were also a factor in Patreon’s decision to boot Benjamin.

YouTuber and Patreon creator Matt Christiansen recently released a transcript of his conversation with Jacqueline Hart of Patreon about Benjamin’s ban. Hart frankly admits that the sensibilities of credit card companies play a key role in Patreon’s decisions.

Here’s an excerpt of that transcript:

JACQUELINE: The problem is is Patreon takes payments.  And while we are obviously supportive of the first amendment, there are other things that we have to consider. Our mission is to fund the creative class. In order to accomplish that mission we have to build a community of creators that are comfortable sharing a platform, and if we allow certain types of speech that some people would call free speech, then only creators that use Patreon that don’t mind their branding associated with that kind of speech would be those who use Patreon and we fail at our mission.  But secondly as a membership platform, payment processing is one of the core value propositions that we have. Payment processing depends on our ability to use the global payment network, and they have rules for what they will process.

MATT:  Are you telling me that this was Patreon’s decision then, or someone pressured you into this?

JACQUELINE:  No – this was entirely Patreon’s decision.  

MATT:  Well then I don’t understand passing the buck off to somebody else.  

JACQUELINE:  No, I’m not passing the buck off.  The thing is we have guidelines, but I’m trying to explain, #1 it is our mission to fund the creative class and obviously some people may not want to be associated.  

MATT:  Well if it’s your mission, then payment processors are irrelevant.  It’s your mission. That’s what you’re pursuing.

JACQUELINE:  We’re not visa and mastercard ourselves – we can’t just make the rules.  That’s what I’m saying – there is an extra layer there.

This “extra layer” places platforms like Patreon in an impossible position: abandon free speech or lose your ability to process payments. That’s also why so many free-speech alternatives to Patreon have failed: FreeStartr, Hatreon, MakerSupport, and SubscribeStar all tried to offer a more open platform, and were promptly dumped by the credit card companies. All are unable to do business.

This exposes the emptiness of establishment conservative arguments about the free market. Those who oppose Silicon Valley censorship aren’t allowed to just build their own alternative platforms. They must build their own global payment processing infrastructure to have any hope of restoring free speech online. That, or they must find a way to stop Visa, Mastercard and Discover from taking advice from the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Color of Change.

I’m a little dubious that Patreon and other companies engaged in financial deplatforming are quite as innocent as Allum paints them here; it strikes me that they are really doing what they want to do and using the credit card companies as an excuse. But this financial deplatforming is unlikely to continue for long, as the political pressure is growing for the Republicans to do something about it, and it will probably not be long before we see the first successful legal action against a deplatforming platform, which should have a salutory chilling effect on those attempting to wage financial terrorism. Because that is quite literally what it is.

And perhaps more importantly, a number of Asian payment processors are extremely eager to move into the vacuum that is being created by the Third World-style unreliability and lack of accountability of their Western counterparts.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *