This Bitcoin Startup Is Working on Free Speech Alternatives to Patreon
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Patreon has been making the case for censorship-resistant money increasingly apparent.
The platform allows members to contribute to artists or creators that they support. These contributions are made via standard payment methods like credit cards.
Over the past few months, there has been an increase in public outcry over multiple separate instances where Patreon has removed creators from its platform. BitPatron, a Bitcoin-friendly version of the website, has recently come to the surface as a possible alternative.
A Series of Bans
One of the first well-known bans dates back to August 2018 when James Allsup, a far-right political commentator, was banned from the funding platform.
In December, a wave of media attention ensued when another alt-right activist and spokesperson, Milo Yiannopoulos, was shut down almost 24 hours after he had set up an account to fund his “magnificent 2019 comeback tour.” Patreon’s reasoning for removing Yiannopoulos’s account was due to his past association with the Proud Boys, a violent, far-right political group (whose founders were kicked off of Facebook and Twitter recently as well).
Only a day after Yiannopoulos’s ban, British YouTuber Sargon of Akkad had his account removed for violating Patreon’s hate speech guidelines by making racist and hateful remarks toward minority groups.
Another notable example occurred when Patreon had to close an account against their will when Mastercard required them to remove the account of Robert Spencer, a political activist and author of several “counter-Jihad” books.
In response to Spencer’s removal and other account bans, Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, and David Rubin, creator and host of The Rubin Report, announced they were leaving Patreon because of the way that the platform has handled these situations.
Bitcoin and BitPatron
Bitcoin is a censorship-resistant currency. One of its many valuable attributes is that nobody can tell anyone what they can or cannot do with their bitcoin. As long as someone is able to receive bitcoin (which, by design, is very easy to do), no transaction from anywhere can be stopped.
BitPatron is a direct response to Patreon’s proclivity to censor content on the platform. It will offer a similar crowdfunding platform as its predecessor, but will allow users to support creators with bitcoin.
By using Bitcoin and Lightning as payment methods, BitPatron expects to offer lower fees than its competitor. BitPatron’s payment processing system is built on top of BTCPayServer, an open-source payment processor for Bitcoin and Lightning. According to the website, there is no minimum pledge amount, compared to Patreon’s $1 minimum. Total fees for the platform are 4 percent, much lower than Patreon’s 10 percent.
The platform’s co-founder believes that, more than just offering users a lower fee competitor to Patreon, BitPatron’s focus on bitcoin is about free speech.
“Patreon publicly admitted that Mastercard required them to remove accounts. This is where Bitcoin and BitPatron come in. Bitcoin is censorship-resistant, free-speech money, and BitPatron is taking a leading role at building a Bitcoin-based, censorship-resistant platform that gives the power back to the community where it belongs,” Vin, co-founder of BitPatron, told Bitcoin Magazine.
But BitPatron is still not a completely, “anything goes” platform yet. A spokesperson for the company told Bitcoin Magazine: “For now, we are planning to monitor and block only in extreme cases, such as illegal pornography, threats or calls for violence, or terrorism-related content.
He added that ideally, in its purest form there would be no centralized control, but there’d be some sort of decentralized algorithm to perform the necessary checks. “That’s why we are considering blockchain platforms that would allow users to self-host their content and be responsible for it.
“We want to remain a platform for every voice, which is, in our opinion, a far greater task than monitoring ‘hate speech.’ We therefore need to make sure that the platform remains interesting for voices of the entire spectrum.”
Who Is It For?
BitPatron will first allow podcasters and video creators to offer exclusive content to their supporters, and it also has plans integrate with Discord groups to support chat rooms.
In the bigger picture, a platform like BitPatron could support content creators from all walks of media. It is a platform where people receive financial support from others all across the world in a seamless and instant way with a censorship-resistant currency.
According to the platform, the public beta will go live next month.
This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.