Deplatforming and Censorship Resistance
In a recently released video, controversial public intellectual Dr. Jordan Peterson and YouTube personality Dave Rubin discussed their intention of leaving the content creator funding site Patreon on January 15, 2019. They made this decision in protest to Patreon’s perceived censorship of other creators — namely Patreon’s deplatforming of Carl Benjamin aka Sargon of Akkad.
Leaving Patreon represents a stand against the moves that technology companies have recently taken in deplatforming creators who are deemed offensive. Popular Patreon author and podcast host Sam Harris left the platform earlier last month. Dr. Peterson and Mr. Rubin earn 10s of thousands of dollars from Patreon each month and admit that this decision will be costly for both. They assert that this decision is in the interest of maintaining freedom of speech in public discourse.
Censorship Through Finance
2018 was a year in which many content creators were either deplatformed or demonetized. Creators like Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and the aforementioned Sargon of Akkad are only a few examples. In Alex Jones’ case, he was deplatformed from all major outlets and income streams. His accounts were deleted from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Apple Music, Spotify and Patreon. Regardless of your feelings about Jones, the powers that be demonstrated a high level of coordination in making sure his show Infowars all but disappeared, stripping him from the ability to earn money for its production.
By taking away their ability to earn money for their content, the companies are for all intents and purposes censoring content. Platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Patreon are private companies and have a right to police their platform in any way they see fit. But considering the monopoly they hold, viable options are few and far between. Cryptocurrency is, theoretically, one such solution, but the road is still long.
Hold On Bucko, Crypto Ain’t There Yet
But to Peterson and Rubin, this is just the beginning. In their video, they announced a new content funding platform they are developing. One of the many options immediately brought to their attention on the Twittersphere was cryptocurrency. After all, one of the hallmarks is the censorship resistance of the blockchain.
Patreon and their ilk are the exact trusted third-parties blockchain technology is trying to displace. Crypto seems to be the perfect solution. But Peterson, while he has some sympathy for the crypto-enthusiasts’ perspective, does not accept that it is a viable option for their needs at the current time. In addressing the crypto-enthusiasts, he admits: “Their solution is still sufficiently technically complex to keep it out of the mainstream use and also not sufficiently liquid to actually constitute a realistic current replacement even for credit cards.” In Peterson’s opinion, it seems, crypto being used as a censorship-free model for funding content creators is simply not there yet — especially with those who already have a large following and depend on their support using fiat.
Rubin has mentioned crypto’s possibilities in the past but shares Peterson’s reluctance to go full on crypto. “Maybe crypto is the ultimate answer,” he admits, “but it is not the answer for tomorrow for everything.”
Considering both are considered right-leaning in their politics and alternative social media sites like Gab have sprung up for those who were kicked off traditional social media, the market for wider adoption may be there in the future. Cypherpunks and Libertarians were among the first proponents of cryptocurrency. To think those groups would be the first to use it in mass to sidestep censorship efforts from centralized authorities is not far-fetched.
Cautious but Crypto
While crypto might not be the current answer, both Dr. Peterson’s website and Dave Rubin’s website have a Bitcoin address on their donate pages. Their new platform will also be multi-currency, so it is safe to assume that they will accept cryptocurrency as well.
Projects like Steemit, Akasha, LBRY, Po.et, and Brave with their Basic Attention Token are attempting to help content creators find support peer to peer from their audience through cryptocurrency. As YouTube continues to demonetize creators, new avenues will continue to be explored.
Crypto may not be the answer for tomorrow. Next week? Maybe.
Image Source: “Flickr”
Carlos Acevedo is a writer and educator whose crypto-journey began not so much with Bitcoin but with Dogecoin in 2014. And while that involvement was not insanely profitable, the experience in fundamental best practices in using crypto became useful when the boom of 2017 occurred. Already in possession of a Coinbase account after hearing Andreas Antonopolous on the Joe Rogan Experience, he was primed to jump right in and has not looked back since. Studying cryptocurrency and exploring its potential, pitfalls, and possibilities has become a part of his daily life. You can find him on Twitter at @CLAcevedo222.