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.”http://voxday.blogspot.com/2020/08/arbitrator-rules-against-big-bear.html [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 https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/12/21135474/doordash-workers-forced-arbitration-william-alsup ). 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 🙂.