What is wrong with Patreon and why Ukrainians urge canceling it

Patreon, the American crowdfunding service for creators, fell into disgrace on the Ukrainian internet. Although the platform verbally supports Ukraine, it actually blocks the accounts of Ukrainian activists and foundations. At the same time, Patreon does not create any obstacles for many outspoken Russian propagandists, who continue to finance their anti-Ukrainian activities. AIN.Capital tells the details.

What happened

The American platform Patreon allows artists and content creators to raise funding for their projects. However, since the beginning of the war, the company began to block Ukrainian accounts.

On March 20, 2023, Patreon deleted the page of popular blogger and Ukrainian activist Serhii Sternenko. The reason for the blocking is a violation of the rules of the platform, which does not allow collecting money for “funding weapons or military activity”. According to Sternenko, the Patreon administration did not provide any evidence of violation from his side.

At the beginning of the war, Patreon deleted the page of the largest Ukrainian military fund Come Back Alive, which is the record holder for the amount of fees on Patreon, for the same reasons. All the collected funds were returned to the patrons, and since then Come Back Alive has not been on the platform. Also, last year, the platform blocked the account of Ukrainian journalist Ayder Muzhdabayev.

However, Sternenko decided to appeal Patreon’s decision. He noted that he does not use the collected funds for military purchases, but only to finance his blogging activities, in particular on YouTube. On April 8, Sternenko reported that Patreon offered to restore his account.

Does Patreon support Ukraine?

At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Patreon, unlike other American services, refused to block its platform for Russians. The CEO of the company, Jack Conte, said that he does not support Putin, but ordinary Russians should not suffer.

It seems that Conte, on the other hand, does not care about the suffering of ordinary Ukrainians, who are attacked every day by “ordinary Russians”, and not Putin personally. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain why the accounts of Ukrainian activists are blocked, while Russian propagandists continue to freely use Patreon. Among them are the so-called “warriors” Semyon Pegov, Alexei Smirnov, Patrick Lancaster, propagandists Tatyana Montyan, Ilya Varlamov, and many others. They not only support Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and spread anti-Ukrainian propaganda, but also raise money for the war against Ukraine. If this is not “military activity”, then what else?

Ukrainians turn to the Patreon administration with a demand to delete these accounts, but the company does not respond. Many Ukrainian companies and organizations were outraged by this attitude of the American service and argued for its cancellation. Instead, sign up on similar crowdfunding platforms like Buy Me a Coffee or Contribee.

For example, the Ukrainian gaming site PlayUA left Patreon, but immediately lost more than half of its funding from donors.

Why does Patreon block Ukrainians, and will cancellation help?

Ukrainian programmer and blogger Dima Maleev, who used to work at Patreon, explained why the platform is so unfair to Ukrainians:

Patreon was generally considered (when I worked there) to be a low-fraud business, so the fees to the payment systems are minimal. Therefore, Patreon could allow creators to provide the service with a low percentage: 8-12, in which both the payment of the transaction and the profit of “patreon” are hidden.

Patreon currently has the best feature/percentage ratio among the big services. Therefore, we have the honor to observe what is happening with Ukrainian accounts. Because there are collections for weapons, and joy from deaths, etc.

In its turn, Sternenko urged Ukrainians to continue supporting theirs on Patreon until they found an alternative. Because if the cancellation will only lead to Ukrainian bloggers losing the lion’s share of funding without any consequences for Russians, then it can be considered counterproductive.