Patreon has launched a public assertion denying viral and unproven allegations on social media that its platform is internet hosting little one sexual abuse materials.
The allegations are primarily based on a handful of Patreon accounts that offered photos of what seems to be minors in bathing fits. One viral TikTok, which requested the Division of Justice to research Patreon, recommended that the corporate knowingly allowed this materials to remain on its platform, primarily based on a Glassdoor overview which Patreon stated is pretend, and up to date information of layoffs on Patreon’s safety staff.
What social media customers seem to have noticed on Patreon is a mixture of “household vloggers” that shared photos of their children, and an grownup “age play” account, which means an grownup mannequin who presents like a minor. The latter creator was banned from Patreon over the summer time, in addition to being banned from YouTube and Instagram.
Whereas the accusations towards Patreon began circulating on TikTok in March, they went viral once more this week after the corporate laid off 5 members of its safety staff.
In August, somebody claiming to be on the corporate’s Belief and Security staff posted a Glassdoor overview for Patreon claiming that the corporate is ignoring stories of accounts “promoting lewd images” of kids. Following the layoffs final week, a rumor started spreading by viral posts on Twitter and Tiktok that the layoffs and these claims have been associated—and tied to the Glassdoor overview.
“Patreon has zero tolerance for the sexualization of kids or youngsters and can take away any person and all related content material discovered to be in violation of this coverage,” Ellen Satterwhite, US Coverage Head at Patreon, instructed Motherboard.
Patreon additionally denied the claims in a weblog submit on Tuesday: “Harmful and conspiratorial disinformation started circulating on social media lately, alleging that Patreon has hosted little one sexual abuse materials (CSAM),” the assertion says. “We wish to let all of our creators and patrons know that these claims are unequivocally false and set the file straight.”
Patreon claims that the Glassdoor overview is fraudulent; within the firm’s official Discord, a Patreon staffer claims that it’s “pretend,” and that “Patreon is working to have it corrected.”
Concerning the layoffs, a Patreon spokesperson instructed Motherboard that “a majority of Patreon’s inner engineers engaged on safety weren’t laid off.”
A number of TikTok movies about these claims went viral this week, displaying particular (however blurred-out) Patreon accounts that featured seemingly younger ladies in bikinis and doing “modeling.” Certainly one of these accounts, which Motherboard seen, had photosets on the market that featured what gave the impression to be a younger woman in swimsuits and in numerous poses, whose content material was labeled as 18+. Patreon requires documentation from 18+ creators that the account holder and everybody within the content material is over 18. Patreon eliminated that account this summer time for repeatedly violating its rule towards sexualizing kids, by representing themselves as beneath the age of 18.
Motherboard’s reporting discovered that that content material creator was banned throughout a number of social media platforms, together with Instagram and YouTube. Age play is a style of porn wherein consenting adults faux to be ages they aren’t—usually referring to roleplaying as a younger little one, or infantilizing oneself or one’s sexual companions. Many porn websites, together with OnlyFans, don’t permit customers to add age play content material or faux to be kids, even when they’re grownup roleplaying as underage. Moderating age play content material is usually too dangerous for platforms to even try to permit; conserving minors off platforms is of utmost significance to any professional grownup web site.
One other account in viral TikToks accusing Patreon of internet hosting content material exploiting kids exhibits a younger woman in swimsuits, and is promoting photosets of the woman on the seashore. Patreon does permit content material that options minors that isn’t deliberately sexualized or distributed for sexual gratification, and minors are allowed on the platform if they’ve consent from an grownup. This account operates a “household channel” on YouTube, a part of a typical style of vloggers who paperwork issues like household holidays and mundane elements of life, together with kids. A lot has been written concerning the usually exploitative nature of household channels through the years, and the style stays controversial.
Content material about “human trafficking” steadily goes viral on TikTok, particularly when it issues kids. Conspiracy theories—about being “virtually trafficked in a Goal car parking zone” or traffickers leaving children outdoors as bait, or that furnishings firms are transport kids in dressers—are infinite on the platform, and steadily go massively viral. When it’s misplaced, trafficking panic not solely spreads hysteria and misinformation that directs consideration and assets away from precise victims of abuse, however is usually utilized by conservative teams that wish to wipe sexual content material from the web completely—risking demolishing platforms and earnings sources for grownup creators, and exposing extra individuals to extra monetary precarity and exploitation.
The Glassdoor overview “has led to a conspiracy that Patreon knowingly hosts unlawful and child-exploitative materials,” Patreon stated in its assertion. “First, allow us to be crystal clear: Patreon has zero tolerance for the sexualization of kids or youngsters. We try to maintain our neighborhood secure on all fronts. We unequivocally forbid creators from funding content material devoted to non-consensual or unlawful sexual themes and repeatedly overview creators’ accounts to make sure creators behind grownup campaigns are over the age of 18.” The corporate goes on to say it’s working with a number of organizations that work towards little one abuse, together with the Nationwide Heart for Lacking and Exploited Youngsters.
Patreon additionally famous that the safety staff and the Belief & Security Crew are separate, and being conflated as a part of these allegations; the safety staff “focuses on making certain the security of issues like person and cost knowledge on the platform” whereas the Belief & Security staff displays for unlawful content material and compliance with the neighborhood pointers.
Nudity is allowed on Patreon, however pornography, which the platform defines as “actual individuals partaking in sexual acts resembling masturbation or sexual activity on digicam,” is just not. If somebody is representing themselves as a minor on Patreon, however is posting sexually express content material on different platforms like Instagram or Onlyfans, Patreon points warnings and ultimately removes their account. Patreon has a historical past of each being strict towards NSFW creators up to now, and likewise letting abuses like harassment and stalking imagery exist on the platform for too lengthy.