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Patreon’s Trust and Safety Initiatives

Our mission at Patreon is simple: we want to fund the creative class. We eat, sleep, and breathe that mission every day. We want to get as many creators paid as possible, so they can enjoy sustainable income, retain creative control of their work, and keep a direct connection to their audience.

It’s not enough to just do it, though. We have to fund the creative class in a safe and secure manner. Trust and Safety is a vital piece of what we do, but it isn’t always the first thing people think of when they think of Patreon. We’re committed to building the most creator-first trust and safety team in the world, and are proud of the people we have leading this mission. We strive to write creator-first policies and execute them in a manner that is human, thoughtful, and best for the majority of our creators, and we stand behind our content policies. Our policies are a confident statement of what we believe and what we want to encourage on our platform.

I’d like to share with you some key elements of our Trust and Safety team and process. Let’s take a look at:

  1. Diversity of thought on the team
  2. Policy creation
  3. Decision making
  4. Communication with creators
  5. Appeals process
  6. Goals for 2019

1. Diversity of thought on the team

One thing we prioritize when hiring teammates is that they have a complex and thoughtful process, and can hold opposing thought arguments. Simple black-and-white opinions are not beneficial in our line of work, so we focus on hiring and keeping people who can see and speak “grey” and process context, meaning, and nuance when coming to a decision on content that is funded on and through our platform. In our interview process, applicants go through exercises so we can see their skills in action. Then we hone those skills through weekly collaborations and sessions with other internal teams to ensure we have considered all aspects of a given situation before taking action.

2. Policy creation

We have many content policies covering a range of subjects. We work hard to ensure that our policies and decisions do not include any sort of bias, and that we enforce our content policies fairly, regardless of the creator. Additionally, each creator who is notified that they are in violation of our guidelines is given a chance to appeal our decisions. We do not take our decisions lightly. We reach out personally to creators who have violated our guidelines, and in most cases creators are given a chance to bring their content back in line with our guidelines. This process is beneficial for both the creator and Patreon; we were able to recover $200,000 in creator earnings in December 2018, for example.

We are also very proud of how successful we are at working with creators and bringing them back into compliance with our policies. We get asked if we’d consider a ‘3 strikes, you’re out’ policy — we don’t have one because we already have process of appeal that is successful in a vast majority of cases. Working directly with creators is the most personal and effective means of bringing content into compliance. We do get things wrong sometimes, and we own up to that. Our entire mission is to fund the creative class; the policies in place today are completely in line with that mission. Going forward, nothing about that statement will change. We will continue to think deeply about policies and make thoughtful decisions about every page.

3. Decision making process

When there is a potential violation of our community guidelines, our Trust and Safety team works tirelessly to deliberate and discuss all of the evidence and context necessary to make a decision. For sensitive removals, our leadership team reviews the evidence and discusses whether the policy is correctly aligned with our Community Guidelines.

4. Communication with creators about takedowns

We pride ourselves on being a creator-first company, and are committed to communicating directly with creators when there is an issue. It’s a process that involves human touch at every level. Patreon is the paycheck for our creators; it’s a massive responsibility that we take extremely seriously, especially when making decisions that affect a creator’s page and livelihood. When considering a “takedown” (when someone is taken off the Patreon platform), we’ve developed a process that is very manual -- real people review every account and ensure that multiple colleagues and experts review every takedown. While we have automated systems that proactively review the site for potential violations, they don't catch everything, so we rely on user reports to help us identify violations of our community guidelines. You can always submit a page for us to review if you see something that violates our community guidelines.

5. Appeals process

Patreon needs to be best-in-class at Trust and Safety, and we are constantly setting the bar of standards higher for ourselves and other platforms. That means we’ll keep improving as we evolve as a business. We believe transparency is key, and are proud to have been more transparent than most companies about takedowns and other Trust and Safety issues. And, we’ll continue to educate our community about these tough decisions. We want to let our community know why we make the decisions we do, even if they aren’t popular. We want to be clear about our guidelines and decisions, even if members of our community do not agree with them.

6. Patreon Trust and Safety Goals for 2019

The upcoming year comes with new goals, one of which is to take you, the community, behind the scenes to understand what happens in the world of Patreon. We are proud of the people we have working on these issues, how we think about policies, and want to share our processes and keep you informed on our thinking. Our goal is to ensure our platform is funding the most creators possible, and that we reform as many outside-guidelines creators as we possibly can. In order to reach that big goal, it’s important that everyone in our ecosystem understands our guidelines in-depth so that there are no surprises. We’re prioritizing educational and informative blog posts on these topics, and will be sharing articles throughout the year to share our logic, thought process, and decisions with you.

We are so proud of the great work we see creators doing every day, and we’re honored to be a partner in your creative business. We look forward to the journey ahead, together. Here’s to a 2019 full of insight, inspiration, and success.