More on the Patreon Meltdown

Here’s a guy, Matt Christiansen, who gained an interview with some droid at Patreon.  Good questions, laughable answers, and a sense that he’ll never get another interview with them.  Heh.

He’ll leave Patreon in January.  At one point, the droid he interacts with implies that any impact to this guy’s account, dropped memberships through Patreon, that is, results from an overlap between his viewership and that of the recently de-platformed Sargon of Akkad.  He bats this down, but it points the way to the next phase to watch for in this sorry spectacle.

Wait until the lefties are impacted.

Brief explainer, for those not following this:  Patreon has de-platformed Milo, Lauren Southern, and now Sargon of Akkad.  I know nothing of the Milo and Southern bans, and am only glancingly familiar with the Sargon ban — looks like he used some language that I do not use.  This video is Christiansen’s attempt to get a straight answer out of Patreon about standards, processes, or rules.  They don’t have an answer, although they keep trying.

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41 thoughts on “More on the Patreon Meltdown”

  1. Haakon Dahl:
    which would I suppose be challengeable in court — indeed these sound like the sort of restrictions which are the product of well-decided court cases or of good regulation.

    All such challenges would fail because, as the Treasury Department notes, there is no federal statute requiring acceptance of currency by anyone, certainly not by private parties. Indeed, such challenges have failed. It’s not as if you were the first person to think of such a thing. Even government authorities are not obligated to accept cash; they often require electronic payments for taxes. People misunderstand the inscription “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private.” It does not endow you with any right to force anyone to accept your note.

    The larger point is that we no longer live in a nation governed the rule of law, if we ever did. As we’ve seen most acutely over the last two years, judges are not bound by the letter of the law: one federal district judge in Hawaii can interfere with the operation of the national government regardless of the clear meaning of statute.

    For example, if our rulers decide you can no longer use cash to purchase alcohol, then you will not be buying alcohol with cash anymore. That would be an easy one because there’s no law that says you have that right and there would even be a reasonable-sounding public policy argument for the new rule. There could be severe penalties for liquor store owners for violating it, more severe than selling to under-age. This rule is already in force on American domestic airlines. Until about the day before yesterday, they took cash for on-board purchases with no problem and now they don’t. See you in court, where you will lose.

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  2. A little vignette from the near future…

    airport parking lot attendant: Mr. Dahl, I see that you ordered two alcoholic beverages on your recent flight.
    Haakon Dahl: I tried to pay in cash but they wouldn’t take it.
    attendant: Our metabolic models show that, based on your mass, age, and recent alcohol consumption, you are intoxicated. We will not be able to release your vehicle for another 90 minutes.
    Dahl: But one of those drinks was for my wife!
    attendant: I’m sorry, sir, but we can’t be sure, especially since they were purchased 30 minutes apart. Please step over to our convenient lounge to wait for the release of your vehicle. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids (you may pay for them with your credit card) and have a nice day. 🙂

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  3. John Walker:

    Haakon Dahl:
    Yes, and when the verification is done, it points to a wallet.  Somebody’s credit card was used to fund that.

    To be precise, it does not point to a wallet (which is a collection of Bitcoin public and private keys), but rather to a public Bitcoin address.  You can create these addresses at will, as many as you wish, without any intermediation of a third party or public disclosure.  It is only when an address is used that it appears on the blockchain, and users concerned with anonymity and security generate and use a new address for each transaction.  Some wallet software takes care of this automatically.

    Here is a guide to using Bitcoin anonymously (this document is full of crappy pop-ups, sorry).  By mixing or using a service like JoinMarket, you can break the chain by which one can track the flow of funds back to the origin.  It’s a bit of work, but doable if privacy is important.  Many people keep their Bitcoin with a service like Coinbase.  This is no more secure than using a bank or credit card company and, in fact, they comply with the same “Know Your Customer” regulations.  For security, the best approach is to run your own Bitcoin node (note: there is a difference between running a node and mining, and you can run a node without processing transactions for third parties).  The compute requirements for a non-mining node are minimal, and a Raspberry Pi with an external USB hard drive or SSD is more than adequate.

    You’ve made Haakon’s point.  Cash is inherently anonymous, and inherently two-party.  Extreme methods can be taken to hide the trail of a bitcoin from receipt to spend, but it is not practical for many.  And the institutions that provide these anonymizing services will inevitably face other forms of scrutiny to identify malevolent parties, which will also expose those wishing just for privacy.

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  4. Haakon Dahl:
    The key difference between bitcoin (for example) and cash is that cash provides a literal lowest common denominator of value.  The difficulty of accepting (or providing) bitcoin is greater than that of counting out a wheelbarrow full of pennies.

    Sorry Haakon, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. If people are comfortable with a paypal-level of oversight, they can create a bitcoin account with about the same level of effort as setting up a paypal account.  If someone wants a higher level of security/privacy, it takes about an afternoon of fiddling to set up an individual bitcoin node (note: not for mining).  If you’re gonna go to jail if you get caught, you might want to spend a bit more time studying of course.

    Disclaimer: I’ve never actually counted a wheelbarrow full of pennies!

      As a vendor of water in the desert, I do not have to verify anything.  The coin of the realm is good. So let’s say that tomorrow the government decrees that bitcoin shall be accepted everywhere.  This would be a disaster.  Even assuming that on the day after tomorrow, every vendor has acquired the ability and the expertise to comply, it will still require a reconciliation no less intrusive than if we were required to sign for every purchase made with cash.  I need neither an account nor a clearinghouse to use cash.  No central control opportunity. The electronic transfer of funds introduces control mechanisms.  I appreciate the convenience and the expanded opportunities, but I do not wish to be required to use these mechanisms.  Fiat currency has a lot wrong with it, but it is the last vestige of anonymous transactions that we have.  Bitcoin is no obstacle to Patreon-style control.

    You’re setting up quite a few straw men in the above scenario.  Bitcoin etc. will coexist happily with cash, banks, credit cards, paypal, venmo, etc.  It solves lots of problems with international money transfers.  For example, an American has a lot of difficulties supporting patreon-style someone in China, because they can’t both get compatible payment systems.

    You’re wrong about bitcoin not being an obstacle… I don’t think you can come up with a method of deplatforming someone from receiving/sending bitcoin.

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  5. Phil Turmel:
    You’ve made Haakon’s point.  Cash is inherently anonymous, and inherently two-party.  Extreme methods can be taken to hide the trail of a bitcoin from receipt to spend, but it is not practical for many.  And the institutions that provide these anonymizing services will inevitably face other forms of scrutiny to identify malevolent parties, which will also expose those wishing just for privacy.

    I think John did a great job of addressing the technical aspects of bitcoin privacy, so I’ll just add that the idea that bitcoin/cash is an either/or proposition is a straw man argument that nobody is seriously making.

    As far as the practicality, consider how impractical it was for individuals to connect to the Internet just a few decades ago.  Now Internet connectivity is built in to just about every computer (and telephone!) that people buy.  Give it another decade or two and e-wallets denominated in e-currency will be par for the course.

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  6. Phil Turmel:
    Cash is inherently anonymous, and inherently two-party.

    Oh, one other interesting point.  While watching the hypnotically beautiful https://bitbonkers.com, I noticed some large transactions — one was $3 million!  I think it’s definitely easier to transfer this electronically rather than dealing with 66 pounds of 100 dollar bills.  Just FWIW!

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  7. Damocles:

    Phil Turmel:
    Cash is inherently anonymous, and inherently two-party.

    Oh, one other interesting point.  While watching the hypnotically beautiful https://bitbonkers.com, I noticed some large transactions — one was $3 million!  I think it’s definitely easier to transfer this electronically rather than dealing with 66 pounds of 100 dollar bills.  Just FWIW!

    Cash is also something you probably don’t want to send in the mail.   We ran out of ideas for a gift-giving occasion not long ago.   Since this was for one of our extra sons who now lives very far away, we might have used Bitcoin, which we have done in the past.

    (Since it was a relatively small amount, and since neither party has any privacy concerns, and since we had the info due to providing some startup assistance a couple of years ago, we just electronically transferred the funds from our checking account to his.   Shazam.)

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  8. drlorentz:
    airport parking lot attendant: Mr. Dahl, I see that you ordered two alcoholic beverages on your recent flight.

    You better up that number to get from the ludicrously hypothetical to the merely speculative.

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  9. I’ll certainly accept John’s (and other folks’) corrections on bitcoin mechanics.  But I’ll stand on my points that A) cash is clean and everything else leaves a trail, and B) cash requires no mediation whatsoever.

    I’m not even anti-bitcoin — I’m arguing that due to its nature as information only, it is nowhere near as clean as cash.

    Every encryption scheme is or will be cracked, with the exception of one-time pads, which are unfeasible for the majority of distance communications.  Every message (of which transactions are a subset) online is subject to interception and comprehension by a sufficiently motivated party.  Now, this is all theoretical — until it isn’t, and then the walls come down.

    Obviously, cash is not suitable for distance communication unless you build an old-style vacuum tube like the drive-through at the bank used to have.  Even then, you would not know if the tube were cut and a man-in-the-middle attack were performed.  I admit the weaknesses of cash which result from its physical nature, and in the larger picture, its fiat nature.  Yet even bitcoin, with its value supposedly supported to a nominal floor by all the work done to mine it, will fall to zero value if it is no longer A) accepted or B) trusted (leading to A).

    Tor is not untraceable — it is difficult to trace.  The difference is everything.  Your OS is not incorruptible — it is difficult to corrupt (where difficulty is a constant depending upon the OS, and affected by other security measures you implement).  Your IP address can be had.  Your online signature can be had.  You have to generate these addresses of which John speaks, and this must be done online through your computer or somebody else’s.  Maybe your lawyer’s or consigliere’s.

    Perhaps perversion of cash exist such that the bill or coin contains a tiny computer recording the location, sounds, and IP addresses of any devices within range — but that’s a farther stretch than would be required to believe that bitcoin can be correlated to your name and address.

    I do not propose cash as the solution to payment at a distance.  I’m just drawing a line between clean and dirty systems, and bitcoin, while cleaner than credit cards, is nowhere near as clean as cash, and might as well be a credit card in comparison.

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  10. Damocles:

    As a vendor of water in the desert, I do not have to verify anything. The coin of the realm is good. So let’s say that tomorrow the government decrees that bitcoin shall be accepted everywhere. This would be a disaster. Even assuming that on the day after tomorrow, every vendor has acquired the ability and the expertise to comply, it will still require a reconciliation no less intrusive than if we were required to sign for every purchase made with cash. I need neither an account nor a clearinghouse to use cash. No central control opportunity. The electronic transfer of funds introduces control mechanisms. I appreciate the convenience and the expanded opportunities, but I do not wish to be required to use these mechanisms. Fiat currency has a lot wrong with it, but it is the last vestige of anonymous transactions that we have. Bitcoin is no obstacle to Patreon-style control.

    You’re setting up quite a few straw men in the above scenario. Bitcoin etc. will coexist happily with cash, banks, credit cards, paypal, venmo, etc.

    I’m not creating a false dichotomy: I’m only comparing bitcoin to cash.  All of these things may well co-exist (ugh), but bitcoin will not solve the trackability and three-party problem that cash solves.

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  11. Then there’s this innovation from Sweden, pioneer of the cashless society.

    Proponents of the tiny chips say they’re safe and largely protected from hacking…

    Ermmm…depends on what kind of “hacking” you’re talking about.

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  12. MJBubba:
    So I suppose we ought to ooze-yay old-ashioned-fay odes-kay ?

    Stego!

    Skilling fibber goldfish, bruit curveted peaked handoff, oryxes handouts.  Bulk, bovines peerage.  Cerumens pipkin fatless shuffles flamen cap.  Scarves rondos, duffel shrieves booing deserved corny kurgans.  Smilax excise anoxic claspt.  Cresting siliquae reheels nougat nautili.  Motorist opes nitwits perse formless series.  Scotia overcram coopery copyboys lions, ocelots.  Mixups.

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  13. Haakon Dahl:
    What’s the number one way to draw attention to yourself?  Encrypt your communications.

    Unless lots of people are doing it. The more there are, the less it stands out and the more impractical it is for No Such Agency to try to read those communications. Safety in numbers.

    An approach that avoids the pitfall of standing out is steganography. Looking for messages in every image transmitted by text or email is impractical. Again, safety in numbers. It’s not too hard to write your own steganography software. It may not be the most secure but who’s going to look?

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  14. drlorentz:

    Haakon Dahl:
    What’s the number one way to draw attention to yourself?  Encrypt your communications.

    Unless lots of people are doing it. The more there are, the less it stands out and the more impractical it is for No Such Agency to try to read those communications. Safety in numbers.

    An approach that avoids the pitfall of standing out is steganography. Looking for messages in every image transmitted by text or email is impractical. Again, safety in numbers. It’s not too hard to write your own steganography software. It may not be the most secure but who’s going to look?

    I think the day is coming where it is very common place. What is needed are off the shelf easy solutions.

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