Patreon, a platform that allows creators to get paid for their content, has announced the suspension of a non-governmental organisation’s account raising money for the Ukrainian army. Lithuanian creators, who collectively have more than 20,000 paying subscribers, are boycotting the platform’s decision, choosing alternatives, TV3.lt portal informed.
More than 15 developers have announced that they have already moved to Contribee, an alternative platform for independent developers developed by Lithuanians, which actively supports the Ukrainian armed forces. The boycott is being joined by the investigative journalism centre Siena, the media group Laisvės Media Group, the podcasters Negyvas Eteris, the racer Vaidotas Žala, the comedian and activist Oleg Shuraev, the financial newsletter BFF Insider, the healthy lifestyle blog IRUNLT, and dozens of other Lithuanian creators, according to the press release.
In a statement to CNBC, Patreon representatives said that the company “does not allow any donation campaigns related to violence or the purchase of military equipment, regardless of the cause”, which is why the page has been closed. According to a Patreon blog post, the NGO’s “Come Back Alive” page stated that the funds were being used to train soldiers as well as to provide them with technical equipment.
This action has been met with a negative reaction from the Patreon community: most agree that the company’s action is unexpected and disappointing, as Patreon has not blocked this type of account before, so the “breach of the company’s terms and conditions” seems to be a cover.
“Anyone who does not support the Ukrainian Defence Forces is supporting the war. Although the initial impact of our initiative will be minimal, I am sure it will attract the attention of other Patreon creators outside Lithuania. Patreon will suffer the damage they deserve. It is very important to act even against smaller companies that ignore the current geopolitical situation. By boycotting Patreon, we are sending a clear warning to all other companies: your apathy will cost you your reputation and more,” says Erik Murin, BFF Insider writer and one of the many initiators of the movement.
Andrius Tapinas, the founder of Laisvės Media Group, one of the largest audiences in Lithuania, published a public letter to the Patreon platform. “You have sold over 300,000 USD of your monthly donations to Ukraine. Yet, you hide behind your ‘conditions and policies, trying to explain that Patreon cannot be used to fund military activities. <…> You have stopped vital funds for Ukraine and its people, costing them time to raise such funding again and thus helping the Russian war effort immensely. You have helped war criminals. And helping war criminals certainly violates your conditions,” he says.
“Mantas Michalauskas, Contribee’s founder and head of communications, says that Contribee invites everyone to switch to this platform: “We only have a small fee that subscribers will pay. In the meantime, donations to the Ukrainian forces will not be subject to any fees, except for those paid to the payment provider Stripe.”
“Contribee was launched in September 2020 and is already used by more than 2.5 thousand developers and more than 30 thousand cash-paying subscribers. “Contrybee is also actively used by a wide range of non-profit organisations that survive only thanks to the financial support of people.
Obviously, some Patreon developers are worried about the potential losses. Still, Michalauskas calms these fears by explaining that Contribee is already a well-known platform and people will move to it without any problem, especially given what has happened on other platforms of this type.