Patreon just widened their terms of service to support the authoritarian practices they’ve been following for some time

Patreon's terms of service on so-called hate speech have been widely criticized as their terms have applied to whatever you do in your life, regardless of whether it's on the Patreon platform or not.


Patreon's updated Terms of Service (ToS) and Community Guidelines aren't sitting well with some of their users, who took to Twitter to criticize the decision.

The San-Francisco based crowdfunding platform is particularly popular with creators whom it connects with paying customers and supporters. The part of its ToS dealing with abusive behavior now states that because a user is raising funds via Patreon, the company may hold them “accountable for what they do with those funds.”

To make things clear, Patreon is warning its customers that it may “also look at what they do with their membership off our platform.”

Gaming critic SidAlpha took offense at this type of invasive interest into a user's personal activities: “Do something they don't like ANYWHERE and you violate ToS,” SidAlpha commented on Twitter,” also accusing Patreon of dispensing with any pretense of fairness in the process.

In the Community Guidelines Patreon digs a little deeper into what part of their private lives and activities a user is signing away when signing up to the platform:

“When reviewing a page, we look at how content is shared, where it is linked and where the traffic comes from.”

But Patreon – who take a 10 percent cut from their customers' transactions – promises that should their perceived “bad behavior” result in a ban, it will be reviewed.

That's something that may prove to be cold comfort for all those relying on Patreon for a revenue stream, as the tone of arbitrariness that seems to permeate the process must be setting off alarm bells with this sentence found in the ToS: “If you do bad things we may terminate your account.”

A baffling lack of clarity, for what is essentially a business contract between creators, and Patreon as an intermediary.

The platform has flirted with controversy and faced push-back from users before, notably in 2017 when it started banning adult content creators' accounts – openly citing pressure from payment processor partners, i.e., Visa and Mastercard.

It's unclear whether similar – or indeed ideological reasons lie behind the “deplatforming” of a number of conservative creators accused of promoting hate speech, that has happened in the meantime.

Over on Twitter, SidAlpha received advice from commenters to move his business to another platform. But the options and their quality is limited – as long as payment processing partners hold sway over the industry as a whole.


Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovic is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovic is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]