More on Patreon v Unpleasantness

I’ve been following the travails of Vox “I have never been a neo-Nazi” Day & Owen “flat Earth” Benjamin against funding website Patreon. This is post four, so if you missed the earlier episodes they are here (and, as some drive-by supporters of Vox say, “ageing badly”):

When last we checked in, a Californian court had refused to make an injunction stopping Owen Benjamin’s supporters brining multiple arbitration claims against Patreon for closing Benjamin’s Patreon last year. Now, according to Vox Day, the first arbitration claim (from Benjamin directly) has been decided by the arbitrator JAMS.

“Somewhat to our surprise, the arbitrator in Owen’s case ruled that Patreon does have the contractual right it claims to kick anyone off its platform at any time without any reason, regardless of whether the user being kicked off has violated any rules or community guidelines or not. That right to terminate any user at any time at will was the reason he gave for granting Patreon’s request for summary disposition.” [archive link]

As far as I am aware, arbitration rulings aren’t public and I don’t believe Patreon have (or are likely to) make a comment on it. So we only have Day’s less-than-reliable account of things but given the negative result I think it is safe to assume this is accurate.

Day is claiming this is just a “tactical loss” because one arbitration ruling doesn’t determine the result of the next one and there are 72 further arbitrations to go. However, given that the root issue is whether Patreon could terminate Benjamin’s Patreon account this ruling suggests that the others will go in a similar way. Arguably, the ‘re-platforming’ strategy has already failed. The original idea (as substantiated by the court documents) was that the threat of multiple brigaded arbitration claims would be such a financial disincentive to Patreon, that they would settle with Benjamin and either re-instate him or compensate him. Matters have already moved beyond that and other tech companies with arbitration clauses are now aware of this potential strategy (a strategy used for the forces of good in this example ). That doesn’t mean Patreon may still suffer further set backs, we’ll have to wait and see.

Day remains bullish, claiming in the comments that:

“Only one claim out of five have anything to do with Owen. One out of seven for the 72 Bears. The dispute hasn’t really been about Owen’s deplatforming since they changed the terms.”

His point here being that the “bears” (the name for Owen Benjamin’s fans) arbitration claims are more to do with the changes in terms of service that Patreon introduce to side-step the zerg-rush tactic.

I’ll keep watching. Suffice to say that the triumphalism of Day’s supporters at the last update has aged badly 🙂.

14 thoughts on “More on Patreon v Unpleasantness

  1. No, “Somewhat to our surprise” = “We were in fact surprised that our own oblivious blow-hardism and sense of self-righteous zealotry couldn’t overcome the plain language of the ToS.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. “Somewhat to our surprise, the arbitrator in Owen’s case ruled that Patreon does have the contractual right it claims to kick anyone off its platform at any time without any reason”

    Oh, I’m dying, I’m dying here. Who knew that the terms of a contract that Benjamin willingly entered into for a Patreon account would actually be enforced under threat of legal action against that contract? It’s a wonderment!

    It is kind of fascinating to see right wing zealots used to being able to harass people by these large platforms find out that actually trying to harass the platforms themselves for the opportunity to use them to keep harassing people or soak them for some legal pocket change doesn’t go so well.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Patreon is big enough that it’s probably chump change to them. And it’s ultimately cheaper than to settle, because then they’d have several zillion dimwits trying to do the same thing. Big corps settle when it’s more trouble than it’s worth to bother going to trial (or, of course, if they’re actually scared of losing). But arbitration is cheap by comparison, and once you’ve won once, you just keep doing the same thing. How much does it cost to hire a paralegal to keep copying and pasting the same responses to BS claims? Not much.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And it’s also costing the Dark Lord Gossage-Vardebedian Spode’s legions and allies money. One group can afford this. The other likely cannot, or at least, not as well.

        Teddy’s gone with his usual strategy for winning–lose, and then insist that was the plan, and also, a real win.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Patreon does have the contractual right it claims to kick anyone off its platform at any time without any reason

    Yeah, ya think? 🙄

    It’s fascinating that these people think the concepts of “free market” and “private company” only apply to someone else.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s not so much that the rules only apply to Other People, it’s that the rules only apply to people like Vox and his ilk when it’s convenient to them.

      I’d be optimistic, and hope this particular story would circulate out into the wider world (particularly among the daft hordes of mask-eschewers and such) but I’m sadly aware there’s a strong trend among right-wingers of being unable to generalise principles accurately from evidence provided. Therefore, they’re going to have to each have individual lawsuits all being decided against them in favour of places like various shopping chains (Costco, Walmart etc) being allowed to insist on masks being worn as a condition of entry to their private property.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Somewhat to my surprise, the water was wet when I went scuba diving.

    Somewhat to my surprise, the sun rose in the east this morning.

    Somewhat to my surprise, the sky appears to be blue.

    Somewhat to my surprise, Spider-man does whatever a spider can.

    Somewhat to my surprise, Teddy Beale was wrong about something.

    Liked by 6 people

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