Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Patreon explains its hate-speech policy in a "patronage" environment, while vloggers talk about financial (and even political) sustainability of independent journalism, on Christmas Day; cryptocurrencies?

The mainstream media has caught up with the Patreon problem, with the New York Times reporting by Nellie Bowles on Christmas Eve here. The Times seems sympathetic to platforms that want to disconnect themselves from any appearance of what is thought of as the “alt-right” because the extreme right can use reasonable, libertarian-sounding ideas as stealth.

Benjamin Goggin has two Medium-Business Insider articles (linked) about the Patreon issue where he summarizes some of the bannings (and attempts to start new platforms) as related not only to using slurs (even off platform) but suspicious (if occasional or discontinued) associations with more extreme groups or persons. These articles characterize an "Intellectual Dark Web" of pundits whose policy ideas are relatively centrist (sometimes OK, for example, with gay marriage) but who seem to lack empathy for people who claim group oppression -- which is really closer to mainstream secular  conservatism than either libertarianism or religious fundametanlism but increasingly unacceptable in some of Silicon Valley. But these "centrist" content creators insist that Patreon and other tech companies (including Paypal with the Subscribestar ban) are making up rules as they go along, in reaction to leftist complaints, and that Patreon cannot be trusted by content creators who need the income. 
Perhaps a bit to her credit Jacqueline Hart of Patreon offered this explanation of why they will remove content providers for off-platform behavior. She also seems to offer a somewhat specific view of hate speech, as involving protected classes (extended somewhat to groups like trans) based on past history.

Again, I personally don’t believe in making policy based on grouping people into classes or ethnicities. (I am more of a "due process" person.)  But I understand it has become perceived as a cornerstorne of liberal public policy and sometimes law (the 14th Amendment).

Tim Pool has a very long and extensive analysis of this latest article.

All this said, I wanted to note that several videos from Patreon creators note the very considerable incomes they make from patrons, perhaps even compared to commercial YouTube ads.  This observation raises in my mind how one develops the public standing to get contributions as an independent journalist and make it a credible career choice (which, as my DADT III book and later Nicholas Taleb's "skin in the game" book) should be seen as a privilege. 
That is easier to see in Pool’s case, as Wikipedia, for example, notes his long history of entrepreneurial journalism.  And some Patreon creators had well established reputations before getting onto Patreon (an obvious example, Jordan Peterson).  This also brings up the issue of notability, and Wikipedia’s willingness or lack thereof) to recognize an independent creator (like me) as potentially noteworthy.  (I am working on two potential Wikipedia articles myself now.) 
Tim Pool today advocated bloggers’ or podcasters’ learning to use cryptocurrency (as has Ford Fischer).  I’m still looking at Civil and Steemit – but that takes time!!  Maybe Pool is also referring to the recent flak about the Fed from Trump.

But some creators have said that they will drop not only Patreon but the whole patronage idea as a result of the problems unearthed in this latest “scandal”. Some have said that, like me, they have income or assets from other sources.  These might be undermined by the recent volatility in equity markets and instability in government, for example (even Mnunchin’s unnecessary calling into question of the entire financial system Sunday).  I will later (on a Wordpress blog) give more details on my own stability.  But there are also troubling questions about whether free content is “stealthy” and invites foreign intervention into American platforms.  We may well see more questions about this problem. I did want to note that recently I found an answer on EFF about the 2005 controversy over inadvertent “contributions” to campaigns by bloggers here. 
This is indeed Christmas day, and it’s interesting that an introvert like me, with most of the old family deceased, finds himself busy with his own global activity, and not people next door.  Cards and gifts seem to mean less every year.

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