Creator community alarmed as Patreon fires security staff

Guest post by Naomi Muller

In a public Linkedin post shared on September 8th, former Patreon security team member Emily Metcafe wrote, “So for better or worse, I and the rest of the Patreon Security Team are no longer with the company.” This news came as a shock to staff and creators who utilize the platform alike and quickly spread to Twitter. 

Patreon is a popular platform for artists and content creators. Creators utilize the features of the site differently: some use it specifically as a hub for their community; other creators use it as a place for sharing exclusive content with patrons, similar to a subscription service; while others, like podcasters, streamers, and Youtube personalities, share their work elsewhere and only work with the platform as a way to easily accept tips and monthly pledges from fans.

One of the main functions of the Patreon website is payment processing so the type of data that is at risk is not simply customer preference information. Directory information and other contact data is widely available from government databases (such as voter files) and from data aggregators and list-building services. Financial data, however, is much more sensitive and breaches are more likely to result in the kind of fraud that has you looking at long-term credit monitoring, freezes and other inconvenience.

And speaking of competition, other than the new subscriber features on popular social media platforms, such as Super Followers on Twitter, there are not many clear alternatives to Patreon at the moment–at least not with the same level of consumer brand recognition.

Patreon acknowledged the removal of its security staff, saying it would use third-party services instead. This may not assuage the concerns of creators who expressed feeling blindsided by this move. As more social media platforms introduce paid subscriber features, this was not something anyone associated with the popular platform, including Patreon’s own employees, saw coming.