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Sam Harris deletes Patreon account after platform boots conservatives

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Crowdfunding website Patreon has lost one of its top-grossing accounts, belonging to tech personality Sam Harris, after he says the company exhibited “political bias” when it banned a series of accounts belonging to those on the conservative fringe.

Harris made the announcement on Twitter Sunday night where he has 1.1 million followers.

He wrote: “As many of you know Patreon has banned several prominent content creators from this platform. While the company insists each was in violation of its terms of service, these recent expulsions seem more readily explained by political bias. Although I don’t share the politics of the banned members, I consider it no longer tenable to expose any part of my podcast funding to the whims of Patreon’s ‘Trust and Safety’ committee.”

Harris’ podcast has found significant support on the platform. According to Patreon stats site Graphtreon, Harris had nearly 9,000 paying patrons at the end of November, when he was also the fourth-largest podcast account. He had the 11th-largest account overall.

Harris, who has gained a wide following with his skeptical content that touches on everything from investment strategies to neuroscience, seemed to be referencing Patreon’s recent purge of extreme right-wing figures from its platform.

Read more: 9 podcasts that will change how you think about human behavior

Last week, Patreon banned alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos after he attempted to use the platform to fund his “magnificent 2019 comeback” tour. Patreon said the decision was based on Yiannopoulos’ association with the Proud Boys, which it classifies as a hate group.

A day later, Patreon banned YouTuber Carl Benjamin, AKA Sargon of Akkad, who grew to prominence through his videos that attacked feminism and identity politics. In August, James Allsup, a former Students for Trump adviser and associate of Yiannopoulus’, was banned from the platform under the same reasoning — association with hate groups.

Milo Yiannopoulos.
Drew Angerer/Getty

The bans follow a slew of bans on conservative accounts from tech companies. Last week, Gavin McInnes was banned from YouTube, cutting off his access from any major platform.

In November, PayPal banned conservative group the Proud Boys. In October, both PayPal and payment processing service Stripe banned Gab, the social media site known for tolerating hate speech and groups.

After Benjamin’s ban, he publicly attacked Patreon on his YouTube channel, which has 867,000 followers, alleging political bias.

Patreon seemingly began to feel backlash effects as some patrons reportedly began to pull their money from the platform.

On December 10, Patreon sent an email to various Patreon users, saying, “I understand that some of your patrons have left due to the decision of Patreon to remove Sargon of Akkad’s creator page from our site… We want to provide you with the tools to make your Patreon experience a successful one and keep you feeling supported whenever you may need.”

Harris appears to be one of the first major users to delete his account following the controversy. Graphtreon estimates that Harris made between $23,000 and $65,000 from Patreon per podcast episode.

Harris has not exhibited political affiliation with the alt-right, but frequently appears in new conservative media alongside figures such as Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Joe Rogan.

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