Patreon, a platform that allows content creators to run subscriptions for profit, is hosting accounts associated with or outright pushing the QAnon conspiracy theory, white nationalism, and coronavirus misinformation, despite the company’s rules prohibiting them. In some cases, Patreon has even profited from these accounts while enabling them to monetize dangerous misinformation.
According to Patreon’s Community Guidelines, users are prohibited from “funding hate speech, such as calling for violence, exclusion, or segregation,” which “includes serious attacks on people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or serious medical conditions.” These policies also ban calls for violence and glorification of groups “known to support ideologies that would be classified as hate speech,” and they note that Patreon “may also look at what you do with your membership off our platform” in determining whether accounts violate its guidelines.
Last October, following a Media Matters report about QAnon supporters using Patreon, the platform issued an update to its policies banning “accounts that advance disinformation promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory.” In February, the platform announced that it would also prohibit “creators that repeatedly use unfounded or debunked theories to argue against broadly supported public health measures on COVID-19.”
Despite those rules, a Media Matters review has found more than 25 Patreon accounts associated with QAnon, white nationalism, and coronavirus misinformation still on the platform, often making money from subscription fees, of which Patreon gets at least 5%. This means that not only are these accounts profiting from misinformation and hate -- the platform is making money from it as well.
Multiple QAnon-connected accounts remain on Patreon. A review found:
- TruReporting, a QAnon show that has been banned from YouTube and Twitter. Its page says it earns $135 a month, meaning Patreon’s minimum annual cut would be $81.
- “Patel Patriot,” a conspiracy theorist who has interacted with the QAnon community, including giving interviews to QAnon influencers, and whose claims about former President Donald Trump remaining in power have been heavily promoted by QAnon supporters. (Patel Patriot has said his claims “mirrors closely to Q.”) He has also been banned from Twitter. It is unclear how much his Patreon account earns, though he charges at least $10 per month.
- 1st Amendment Praetorian, a QAnon militia group. Its page says it earns $704 a month, meaning Patreon’s minimum annual cut would be more than $420.
- Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman, a QAnon influencer known online as “Tore” who has been banned from Twitter and who has urged her followers to try to harass elected officials while pushing false voter fraud claims. It is unclear how much she earns from the platform.
- Ben Garrison, a far-right cartoonist who has pushed QAnon in his cartoons (though he has since distanced himself from the conspiracy theory). Garrison was banned from Twitter in January and is currently ban evading on the platform. It is unclear how much Garrison (and thus Patreon) earn, though he charges at least $1 per month.
Additionally, multiple lesser known accounts on the platform directly feature the QAnon slogan -- “where we go one, we go all,” or “WWG1WGA” for short -- or the letter “Q,” or indirectly reference it by citing the number 17 (Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet), a common approach for evading platform moderation while still signalling allegiance to the conspiracy theory. Patreon appears to be making money off of some of these accounts remaining active.
At least eight accounts known for pushing white nationalist rhetoric remain on Patreon. Media Matters’ review found:
- The Red Elephants, a white nationalist media outlet founded by Holocaust denier Vincent James Foxx. James is banned from YouTube and DLive and was near the United States Capitol during the January 6 insurrection; he has also criticized Trump for not “back[ing] his supporters during the Capitol siege” as well as for not pardoning them after. It is unclear how much The Red Elephants (and thus Patreon) earn, though it charges at least $1 per month to subscribers.
- Steven Franssen, a white nationalist vlogger who is banned from YouTube and who has associated with white nationalist Nick Fuentes' “Groypers.” His page says he earns $583 a month, meaning Patreon’s minimum annual cut would be roughly $350.
- Devon Stack, a conspiracy theorist who has authored a book titled The Day of the Rope, a reference to a white supremacist fantasy about the “mass lynchings of purported ‘race traitors.’” He has also called participants in the January 6 insurrection “freedom fighters.” His page says he earns $1,243 a month, meaning Patreon’s minimum annual cut would be nearly $750.
- Jake Lloyd, a former Infowars contributor and a Groyper who has called former President Barack Obama an “anti-white, anti-American” Muslim. It is unclear how much Lloyd earns on Patreon.
- Laura Loomer, a far-right anti-Muslim bigot who has said she was “pro-white nationalism” and not opposed to creating an “ethnostate” for white people. Her page says she earns $188 a month, meaning Patreon’s minimum annual cut would be more than $110.
- Black Pigeon Speaks, a far-right YouTube commentator who a Harvard University Shorenstein Center report identified as “xenophobic, misogynist,” and “anti-Semitic” and as one of the “shapers of a global white nationalist movement.” It is unclear how much Black Pigeon Speaks earns on Patreon, though he has claimed that his YouTube channel has been “totally demonetized.”
- Marcus Follin, known online as “The Golden One,” is a Swedish white nationalist who has supported the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It is unclear how much Follin (and thus Patreon) earns, though he charges at least $1 per month.
- Peter Imanuelsen, known online as “Peter Sweden,” is a conspiracy theorist who has claimed Jews are a “seperate race from Europeans” and, according to the ADL, is known for “extreme racist, anti-Semitic, Christian fundamentalist, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-feminist and conspiracist commentary, which included Holocaust denial.” His page says he earns $17 a month, meaning Patreon’s minimum annual cut would be just over $10.
Our review also found multiple accounts that have pushed coronavirus and vaccine misinformation, some of which are making money through Patreon. Multiple accounts have pushed the “plandemic” conspiracy theory -- which falsely claims that the coronavirus pandemic was purposely caused as part of some nefarious scheme -- with accounts posting content such as “Plandemic is Dress Rehearsal for the New World Order!” and “ACTORS HIRED TO FAKE PLANDEMIC HOSPITALIZATION.”
Some Patreon accounts have also posted “anti mask/vax” content falsely claiming that vaccines have “archonic/ mind control takeover influence,” falsely claiming it is “too early” to take the vaccine, falsely claiming that the vaccines cause “shedding,” claiming the vaccine is the “mark of the beast,” and falsely claiming that “getting the vaccine will cause your death.” Although not every one of the accounts that we found disclosed how much they make from the platform each month, it appears Patreon is making at least $117 annually from just two of these anti-vaccine and coronavirus misinformation accounts.