As Sam Harris leaves Patreon, should deplatformed individuals turn to cryptocurrency?
The year of 2018 has been a year of increased social media scrutiny as platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Google, PayPal, Patreon clearly decided to take on a more active role in policing public opinion. As a direct result of that, we have seen several influential individuals deplatformed from these forums.
Personalities like Lauren Southern, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Carl Benjamin (a YouTuber known as Sargon of Akkad), Ethan Ralph, popular whistleblowing platform Wikileaks and even the rapidly growing Twitter alternative Gab all had their ability to communicate with the general public, as well as the ability to earn money by doing so, limited or completely revoked by corporate conglomerates who didn’t like their controversial opinions.
Things culminated yesterday when popular American intellectual Sam Harris announced his intention to voluntarily close his Patreon account. Mr. Harris explained he made this decision as he feels that Patreon’s recent actions against his fellow creators were likely motivated by political bias. Being known as somewhat of a controversial speaker himself, he has decided to bite the bullet and abandon the platform before it gets the chance to pull the rug underneath him as well.
— Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) December 17, 2018
Just to understand the scope of this better, Harris’ account was the 14th biggest one on Patreon (with almost 9 thousand patrons earning him presumably more than $60 thousand per month) at the moment it was deleted. The story resonated quite loudly among the populous, as over 17 thousand people liked the author’s Twitter announcement at the moment of writing.
Putting the free speech debate surrounding this issue aside, it’s clear that certain individuals and ideas with significant followings are becoming marginalized by the currently established social media elite. In such an environment, alternative financial solutions like Bitcoin can leverage these disgruntled masses and develop into significant market players. This relationship is mutual as said masses can leverage those alternative financial solutions to create what they want to create and consume what they want to consume. After all, cryptocurrency was originally envisioned as something that should help individuals who are being wronged by traditional financial systems; not being allowed to monetize/pay for content, that is by all definitions legal, fits that description to the t.
A decentralized blockchain that sits behind your average cryptocurrency is by nature immutable and independent, meaning that a community can support its interests and creators without worrying about a third party like Patreon or PayPal interfering with the process. No one can stop said community from sending BTC to the Bitcoin address of their favorite creator in a cheap, peer-to-peer manner. Even if the law determines it’s illegal to send Bitcoin to someone, you can still send it and he will receive it. You’ll likely face legal consequences for that but that’s a different story. Most of the time, these communities will possess certain “individualist”, rebellious traits, including calling for abandonment of traditional exploitative financial structures. As such, they’ll be familiar with the topic of cryptocurrency more than the average person and will likely own/know how to use them.
Ultimately, the ball sits in the court of the individual looking to receive support from his community. Mentioned social media platform Gab has already heavily supported Bitcoin as the “free speech money”, calling it a clear solution for the deplatformed and silenced. They’ve made their dedication to Bitcoin (which did come from necessity rather than being “impressed with the technology”) clear just a couple of days ago, when the platform announced it’ll start accepting Bitcoin payments. Another popular and controversial commentator Dave Rubin left Patreon earlier this year and started accepting Bitcoin donations from people willing to support his cause.
With this, BTC’s overall usability should receive a pretty decent boost. More importantly, other free speech advocates might consider the actions of their peers and adopt Bitcoin or even some privacy-focused assets like Monero. The internet is definitely becoming more sensitive and more censored with each passing day; it remains to be seen if other wrongfully deplatformed decide to turn to cryptocurrency as their alternative or even main source of financing in such a restrictive environment.
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