Saturday, December 08, 2018

Patreon's "purges" of sexually explicit content and some "right wing" content explode in controversy

It seems when I go out for an evening my cell phone fills with messages about the latest outrageous social media purge.  Even on a Saturday night, when I went to hear the Washington DC Gay Men’s Chorus Holiday Concert. Review of that tomorrow on another blog.

There was a lot of material about Patreon cancelling accounts that have sexual content. That is partly due to payment processors and party due to FOSTA, at least according to the explanation in this Reddit. Patreon fears that if a user leverages her "patronage" into paid hookups that violates FOSTA and leaves the platform liable under weakened Section 230.  Read the entire thread, and the linked Vox article from last spring.  This comports with the recent problems at Tumblr.

Then there is the issue of rapid banning of “conservative” vloggers.  I won’t get into the issue of Sargon (whether too “extreme”) right here but here is Tim Pool’s lengthy explanation (embedded video below).  There does seem to be a “blacklisting” going on in tech (what about anti-trust?) about off-platform content and conduct, and “asymmetric enforcement” (a term that will please Nicholas Taleb).  "Sargon of Akkad" is the pseudonym of British blogger Carl Benjamin connected to Gamergate. 

Pool said Patreon actually called him to explain its action on Sargon (weird!).   Pool sent out an email saying he is using Subscriber but not (now) closing Patreon. (Yup, the email showed up during the Intermission of the concert, when I was “window shopping”, even in December.  Remember, when I was at Lake Tahoe in September there was another controversy exploding on my iPhone; Verizon, however unfortunately, worked perfectly there.)  As for his further decisions, just check his Twitter feed @timcast.

Several people (on Twitter or Reddit – it’s hard to remember which is which) pointed out that Patreon’s cancelling of “conservative” and “adult” accounts is hurting the revenues of other people who use the platform to manage subscriptions with more “acceptable” (in this politically divisive age) content.

I don’t have Patreon or any subscription for any of my work – and that creates another controversy that I’ve talked about before (for openers, Facebook couldn’t “identify” me with advertisers and prove that I am not one of Vladimir Putin’s trolls when I wanted Facebook to boost a non-partisan and non-commercial post on the security of the power grid, back in September, again while I was in California; they wanted me to be selling something first!)

How does my work get paid for?  It doesn’t cost much to maintain it, and I am “retired”.  Yet I feel that what I do now is a lot more important than my 32 years of I.T., which taught me how to recognize a lot of problems I see today.  But whether a site can support itself could become a big issue in the future. I’ll also mention the “Center for Democracy and Technology” forum on “The Future of Internet Speech” (which I attended Dec. 7) which I will be reviewing soon, but the idea that the right of an individual to speak in a “permissionless” mode is in jeopardy – essentially because of ideological (maybe even Frankfurt-Marxist), reactive, strawman arguments from the far Left – which wants everybody to be forced to take sides before being heard.

Let me mention also, I do review work (movies and books and TV shows or videos) of other content providers.  I generally judge the intent of content from what I read or see.  I am aware of people who claim that the alt-right is using code words to instigate hate with speech that “appears” acceptable (Nov. 24 post and video here).  But I don’t judge a content provider as unacceptable to review or discuss based on rumor or smears.  However, the behavior of some high profile individuals can become more objectionable over time, making others wonder retrospectively why I discussed their work “at all”.  Suddenly, in the tech world, it seems you can be in jeopardy just for whom you allowed others to perceive you as associated with (remember Twitter’s purge in Dec. 2017?)  Pure tribalism.
One other thing. Outside the Lincoln Theater, I walked past an attractively decorated Juul and tobacco shop.  I wanted to make a picture, but I wondered if using it could be viewed as promoting tobacco!  I don’t smoke (I never have, and if I had I probably wouldn’t be alive) or use nicotine at all. I don’t encourage others to.  But is there something wrong with showing a picture?  I took one form a distance, across the street, including Lincoln in the shot, so it isn’t too provocative. Very safe.

Update: Dec. 9  early AM

Pool has a longer 91 minute emergency live streamed video here. He stayed up all night over this!! 

Sargon gives his own account here.  Patreon will ban someone for "manifest observable behavior" online.  (Should say "observed", past tense.) This actually resembles my own issue of "conflict of interest" in the 1990s which I have described earlier.  There's too much to get into here for details -- another post.  But you wonder if this is purely ideological:  maybe "we" require documented community service before someone has an account.  Would that be "manifest"?  It would certainly be ideological.  Sargon refers to the "religion" of progressivism and the idea of "sin" in their values.  

Check my International Issues blog Dec 9 for discussion of Lauren Southern's case. 

Proud Boys "founder" Gavin McInnes seems to have been erased from all major platforms, CNET story (Dec. 10).   Tim Pool reported Dec. 12 that Gavin's YouTube access had been restored. 

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