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How Patreon moderates content

Since the beginning of the year, the Trust and Safety team has published several articles about why and how our team creates Community Guidelines at Patreon. Today, we're sharing what happens when we discover that a creator is violating our Community Guidelines.

With this post, we’ll lay out how we moderate content to ensure Patreon is a warm and safe venue for a diverse range of creators and their communities.

To start, let's talk user reports, which is one of several ways we discover potential violations of our community guidelines.

How our community helps keep Patreon safe

It is important for us to moderate the content that is posted on and funded by Patreon. That way, Patreon can continue to be a safe place for all creators and patrons.

Our content moderation process begins with the discovery that a creator has violated Patreon’s guidelines. We find out about creator violations in a number of ways — we’ll get into those other ways in a future post, but for now, we are going to focus on user reports.

We rely strongly on user reports to discover content on Patreon that violates our Community Guidelines.

Each report our team receives is thoroughly reviewed by a Trust and Safety team member, including all supporting evidence provided with the claim. This evidence can include screenshots, links, or videos with timestamps.

Creators on Patreon depend on us for their paycheck. This is a massive responsibility and one we take very seriously. For this reason, all decisions that impact creators’ paychecks are made personally and case-by-case. No decision that impacts a creator’s paycheck is automated — each case is always reviewed by a member of the Trust and Safety team.

If you see something you believe violates our Community Guidelines, we encourage you to submit a user report for us to review.

In our content moderation process, context matters

Once we receive a user report about an alleged violation, the next step in the content moderation process is to analyze all of the evidence provided.

Our mantra that informs how we work and make decisions is, context matters. We know that any word, phrase, comment, image, video — or any type of content really — can be interpreted differently depending on whether we understand the context behind it. For that reason, any decision we make is supported by a strong understanding of the context behind the content or actions being evaluated.

To make sure we have a good understanding of what is being reported to us, we do a thorough investigation of not only the evidence provided, but also the context around the content and the creator in question.

During this investigation, we look at the three things: the specific piece of content that was flagged/reported, the bulk of the creator’s work, and the creator's online presence on and off Patreon. Because creators raise funds on Patreon, we may be held accountable by stakeholders such as law enforcement, our partners, and others for what is done with those funds, so it is essential for us to understand what project, campaign, and content each creator is funding on and through Patreon.

Are creators ever removed from Patreon for violating our guidelines?

We are committed to being a creator-first company. In our efforts to make Patreon a safe place for everyone, our goal is always to educate creators about our Community Guidelines, to be supportive and kind in our communications, and to help creators stay on Patreon, so we can keep supporting their art.

In some very, very rare cases, if we find that a project is fundamentally at odds with our Community Guidelines, we will consider removing a creator’s page from Patreon as a last resort.

To deal with these really extreme cases, we’ve developed a process that is both manual and thorough.

During this process, all evidence is evaluated personally and carefully by members of the Trust and Safety Team, who convey the findings and decision in a comprehensive report. If we decide to remove a creator from Patreon, or believe more context is needed before making a decision, we communicate directly with the creator about our decision or investigation.

The good news is that over 99% of those contacted by the Trust and Safety team about a content violation are creators we work with and help fund. Our goal is to help them understand and follow our guidelines so they can run a successful membership campaign on Patreon.

Our commitment to communication and education in this process

We want creators to focus on creating. That is their work, and we want them to do as much of that as possible.

When we encounter a violation of our guidelines, we work towards bringing the creator’s page in question back into compliance with our guidelines in the easiest and fastest way possible. However, at the same time, it’s important for us to educate the creator that has been flagged about our guidelines, so they can avoid violating them in the future.

If we find that a creator has violated our guidelines, we alert the creator upon log-in through a banner at the top of their page. Also, we always reach out to the creator directly via the email registered to their Patreon page. To ensure that you are receiving important communications from Patreon, please make sure the email on your account is up to date and that you check your inbox regularly.

Once we contact a creator about a guidelines violation, we encourage them to do three things:

  • Read our Community Guidelines.
  • Identify the content that needs to be addressed (more on this below in Common Questions).
  • Take the required steps to bring their page back within our guidelines.

After a creator does these things and is ready to file for another review, they can let us know by replying directly to the email sent by Trust and Safety. If they received no email, they can proactively reach out to us at [email protected].

If we need the creator to take additional actions, we will continue to provide guidance via email. There is no defined deadline as we understand that this process might take some time. As long as communication is open between us and the creator, and we know they are actively working on their page, we are happy to keep working with them.

Does Patreon ever temporarily suspend creator accounts?

In most cases, we will work with creators to bring their pages back within our guidelines without causing any disruption to the creator’s campaign.

In some cases, however, we might decide to place a temporary suspension on a creator’s campaign until the Community Guidelines violation has been resolved.

Here are a couple of reasons a temporary suspension could happen:

  • We believe a significant portion of the creator’s content is outside of our guidelines.
  • The creator is unresponsive to our previous attempts to address a content violation.

While a page is suspended, the content posted on that page will not be accessible to patrons.

If a campaign is suspended during payment processing, patrons won’t be charged for that month’s cycle and we don’t rerun these payments, even after the suspension is lifted.

During this suspension, the creator retains the ability to manage their campaign and content. They can still create or delete posts, make changes to their campaign benefits, and message their patrons. That way, creators are able to make the appropriate changes to bring their page back within our Community Guidelines.

You can read more about suspensions here.

During this process, why don’t you tell me exactly which content I need to remove?

Our team gets this question a lot. While we always tell the creators we contact which guideline needs their attention, we don't identify every piece of content that is in violation of that guideline. We do it this way for a good reason. When we work with creators to bring their content back within our guidelines, we don’t just want them to “do what we tell them” and move on.

During our content moderation process, it’s important for the creator to take the time to read our guidelines. That way, they’ll understand why their content was in violation, rather than just knowing that it needed to be revised or taken down.

Patreon’s commitment to transparency

Transparency is important for all companies. We’re committed to being a leader in our industry, and offering transparent and honest insight about Trust and Safety issues here at Patreon. That includes how we operate, communicate, and make difficult decisions. We hope that by educating our community about these tough decisions, creators and patrons will better understand the decisions we make, even when they aren’t popular.

If you have questions or concerns about our Community Guidelines, we welcome you to write to us at [email protected]

Stay tuned next month for the second part of this blog post. And, if you want to read more content like this, check out the rest of our Trust and Safety blog series, where you can find more information about the logic and thought processes behind the decisions we make as a company.