Why Adult Content Creators Are Mad at Patreon

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Patreon, the service of choice for independent artists and creators, has once again cracked down on adult content makers. This week, a slew of Patreon creators who make suggestive material received notification that their pages were suspended or shut down.

According to a report from Motherboard, the primary reason given to those hit by the latest squeeze is the inclusion of “implied nudity” in some of their posts. The decision appears to be driven by requirements placed upon Patreon by its payment partners that handle processing transactions.

A number of Patreon creators who make suggestive or explicit content took to social media to inform their backers—who provide monthly donations to help fund the work produced—that their accounts were suspended.

One of the most prominent creators hit by the wave of suspensions was Vex Ashley, one of the creators of the erotic film production collective Four Chambers. In a series of tweets, Ashley explained the importance of Patreon to her art:

Just to be clear what is at stake, this is my whole income, my livelihood. I have been full time working on Four Chambers exclusively for around 3 years now. I have devoted my whole self to the project and I am going to have to try to start again from scratch.

So just why exactly does it appear like adult content creators are getting pushed off of Patreon’s platform? Per Engadget, a spokesperson for Patreon offered the following statement regarding the situation:

We have been ramping up the proactive review of content on Patreon due to requirements from our payment partners. Our community guidelines have not changed, and when we discover a page that is not in compliance with our guidelines we place that page in a state of suspension and work directly with the creator to bring them back within our guidelines. We have also doubled the size of our support team to ensure we get back to creators and give them 1-1 guidance as fast as humanly possible.

Motherboard pointed out that a Patreon blog about creator fees notes that the company’s payment partners include Stripe and PayPal. The latter of the two, along with a number of other financial institutions, have participated in efforts to essentially freeze out sex workers to prevent them from being able to receive payments through the platforms.

The crackdown, apparently urged by payment processors that work with Patreon, is just the latest example of the site pushing adult content to the background, if not off the site entirely despite allegedly courting those creators just a few years earlier.

Last September, after raising $60 million from investors, Patreon updated its content policy to limit the sale of adult content including images, video, and other services. The company started preventing creators from advertising adult content on their public-facing page and limited mature content to posts only visible to backers. It also put restrictions on what could be offered through its platform.

“You can’t use Patreon to raise funds in order to produce pornographic material such as maintaining a website, funding the production of movies, or providing a private webcam session,” Patreon’s guidelines state.

The policy change resulted in a ton of backlash, as sex workers and others in the adult industry that rely on Patreon as a primary source of income expressed fear for their livelihoods. The company tried to walk back its stance, and company CEO Jack Conte posted an apologetic video in which he said, “The authority to take away a person’s income is a sobering responsibility and it is not something to be done on a whim.”

Despite that, it appears, thanks to the pressure of financial institutions, Patreon is once again cracking down on adult content creators—some of the very people who helped to popularize the platform in the first place. It’s a far cry from where the company was at just two years ago when it fought PayPal to allow adult creators to receive payments through the platform.

[Motherboard, Engadget]





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