The New York Times reported that Patreon removed the Patreon account of Carl Benjamin for using racist language on YouTube. Carl Benjamin (who also goes by Sargon of Akkad) is a YouTuber.
According to The New York Times, the removal of Carl Benjamin’s Patreon account influenced Dave Rubin, host of The Rubin Report, and Jordan Peterson, host of Jordan B. Peterson Podcast, to leave Patreon as a protest. Sam Harris, host of Waking Up, chose to depart from Patreon.
Patreon, as you might expect, has Patreon Community Guidelines. A portion focuses on Hate Speech. Part of that section reads:
Patreon connects creators to their platform all over the world. We are a global platform built on promoting creativity, which makes us a very inclusive group. Therefore, there is no room on Patreon for hate speech such as calling for violence, exclusion, or segregation. Hate speech includes serious attacks, or even negative generalizations, of people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, or serious medical conditions.
The New York Times reported that Patreon has taken a “highly personal approach” to policing speech. Their Trust and Safety team has human moderators who investigate complaints about any content posted on Patreon and other sites like YouTube or Facebook that violate Patreon’s Community guidelines.
If a Patreon creator has broken the Community Guidelines, the Trust and Safety team reaches out to them with a specific plan. That plan usually involves asking for the content to be removed and for a public apology. In short, Patreon doesn’t use an algorithm that automatically removes the accounts of creators who break the rules.
Jacqueline Hart is the head of Patreon’s Trust and Safety team. She wrote a post on Medium that explains more details about what Carl Benjamin said on YouTube that led to his removal from Patreon.
As you may expect, the medium post includes a quote from Carl Benjamin, and contains inflammatory language. She provides a clear explanation of how Carl Benjamin’s words broke the Patreon Community guidelines.
As a reminder, freedom of speech means that the government cannot throw you in jail because you said something it disagreed with, or because you criticized the government. Private businesses, including websites like Patreon, are not part of the government. They have the right to create community guidelines and to enforce them.