Patreon Bars Anti-Feminist for Racist Speech, Inciting Revolt

Sam Harris, the polemical atheist neuroscientist known for his popular podcast “Waking Up,” was making tens of thousands of dollars a month from fans who donated to him through Patreon, a crowdfunding site.

That stopped this month. On Dec. 6, Patreon kicked the anti-feminist polemic Carl Benjamin, who works under the name Sargon of Akkad, off its site for using racist language on YouTube. That same week, it removed the right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos a day after he opened an account.

The moves prompted a revolt. Mr. Harris, citing worries about censorship, announced that he would leave Patreon. He was joined in protest by about half a dozen other prominent members of the site, including the conservative-leaning psychologist Jordan Peterson and the libertarian podcaster Dave Rubin, who also earn money from Patreon.

“These recent expulsions seem more readily explained by political bias,” Mr. Harris wrote to his followers.

The furor is a microcosm of the conflicts that are playing out across the internet as technology platforms try to limit the spread of hateful speech.

This year, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have all drawn increasingly stark lines around what constitutes hate speech and are figuring out how to enforce those rules. In August, for example, Apple, Google and Facebook banned the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for violating hate speech rules, setting off a cascading effect.

But as tech platforms try to get a handle on the issue, they are stoking the ire of their content creators, many of whom brand themselves as free speech warriors. Some accuse the companies of censorship. Others say the tech sites

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