Adult Content Creators: Patreon Is Doing ‘the Exact Opposite of What We Asked For’

Patreon's perceived crackdown against porn has gotten messy, and one of the people fighting back was suspended by Twitter without explanation.

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Oct 25 2017, 9:02pm

Image: Shutterstock / Composition: Jason Koebler

Patreon's perceived crackdown against the adult content community has gotten messy as the crowdfunding platform continues to try to assure a growing-contingent of creators that it won't put their livelihoods at risk.

On Tuesday evening, adult content creators wrote an open letter to Patreon asking the crowdfunding platform to rethink the wording of its new adult content guidelines, which those in the industry say are far more restrictive than its previous ones.

Patreon's CEO, Jack Conte, just responded in a blog post: "Patreon won't pull the rug out from a creator's income, even in the case of a policy violation," he wrote. "It breaks my heart that folks who contributed to OpenLetterToPatreon.com expressed fear for their pages."

Wednesday morning, according to Conte, Patreon added more phrasing to their guidelines, including that they're not allowing "real people engaging in sexual acts, such as masturbation or sexual intercourse on camera."

In response to Conte's letter to creators, adult content creator Liara Roux—who helped spearhead the original open letter to Patreon—and the other people who cosigned the original letter issued a new statement noting that Conte's letter did little to quell their fears: "Patreon's move today is the exact opposite of what we asked for," the letter states.

"We've read the email from Jack Conte. It continues to exemplify the exact problems we are writing about in our open letter and, in fact, makes them worse. He both moves to come out strongly against specific forms of expression, such as 'real people engaging in sexual acts,' while going on at length about how good a home Patreon is to creators. And if we don't agree it's a good home, it's ok because it only affects 'very few creators.'

We will continue to stand in solidarity with any creator on the platform creating legal content and continue to demand that Patreon revise its stance to allow any legal adult content within a safe space on their site. We are sorry to hear that the way his company has handled our community 'bugs' him, but it's hard for us to have empathy for those in power while we are fighting simply to be heard, create, and survive."

The full statement responding to Conte's letter is available at the bottom of their open letter.

Violet Blue, a journalist and Patreon content creator, told me in an email that Patreon's latest statement amounts to a "double down on pulling the rug out from what was a truly progressive and empowering system for artists."

It's been a busy 24 hours for Roux and others who signed the letter: Roux's Twitter account was suspended overnight. According to Roux, she was given no warning or specific reason for the ban from Twitter.

According to Roux, she appealed the suspension but has yet to hear back from Twitter.

Roux told me that this timing is suspicious at best. "I couldn't tell you why my account would be removed now after so long in good standing, but the timing does seem relevant—if only because it happened while I was agitating for the rights of sex workers on another online platform," she said in an email.

"We're completely in the dark"

According to Twitter's media guidelines, erotic and sexually-explicit photos and video are are allowed on Twitter, but porn in header and profile photos are not. However, Roux's account doesn't seem to have violated these guidelines. Twitter declined to comment on Roux's specific account, citing its long-standing policy that it does not comment on individual accounts.

There is one snapshot of Roux's Twitter profile on the Internet Archives from March 2017, showing her header image and profile picture both within Twitter's media usage guidelines.

She also sent me a screenshot of how her account looked right before Twitter suspended it:

I spoke with Roux's legal counsel, Alex Austin at Austin Law Group in San Francisco, and she told me that they've tried to contact Twitter's general counsel office since this morning, with no response yet. "The big issue right now is we're completely in the dark," Austin said.