Warning: This article contains descriptions of stalking and sexual harassment that may be distressing.
Patreon has been hosting a user offering creepshots—photos and videos predominantly taken of women’s body parts without their consent in public—for sale as benefits to paying subscribers.
Beyond the obvious harassment of stalking and filming someone for sexual gratification without their consent, some countries have recently enacted legislation making the creation of some types of these images illegal.
“You will see what you came for guaranteed,” one section of the Patreon page, that was removed after Motherboard sent the company multiple requests for comment, reads. Patreon did not respond to our requests for comment. When Motherboard viewed the profile, it had nearly 70 subscribers.
Do you work on content moderation at Patreon? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on email@example.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patreon lets creators such as game developers, musicians, or artists monetize access to their work, offering subscribers benefits varying between different levels of payment.
The person who originally alerted Motherboard to the creepshots account said they repeatedly reported the account to Patreon. The person shared their complaint emails with Motherboard.
“This user is selling creepshots. Creepshots are non-consensual images of women and girls for sexual purposes. These are invasive of women's privacy and in some instances could be in violation of local, state and federal laws,” the person who reported the account wrote to Patreon. “The Patreon I'm reporting is selling access to non-consensual images ("creepshots") of women and potentially minors for sexual purposes,” they wrote in another email to Patreon.
“I'm Vesper from the Trust & Safety team here at Patreon. Thank you for writing in—I can confirm that we have received your report. We will investigate the matter thoroughly and take the necessary actions,” Patreon replied to the person. “Thank you so much for caring about keeping the community safe. Please, note that the Trust & Safety team does not share details related to our investigation or actions that might be taken as a direct result of the investigation,” the company replied to the second complaint email.
The person who wrote the complaint told Motherboard the account was removed, but then swiftly restored.
It appears Patreon only permanently removed the offending profile after Motherboard reached out for comment.
The seller offered various tiers to paying subscribers. For around $5, customers would get five videos a week. For around $10 they would gain access to over 25 videos in an archive; the advert was explicitly focused on race, calling the tier “The Ethnic Club” and said “This tier is for all my lovers of color.” Finally, for around $20 a month, customers would receive “All festivals, concerts, parks, beach, grocery store and mall videos,” as well as “Private Videos never seen anywhere.”
In 2019, the UK made upskirting, where a person photographs or films up someone’s dress or skirt without their consent, illegal.
Various social media platforms have banned creepshots and similar material after years of directly facilitating its distribution. Motherboard has previously reported on how Tumblr has a massive creepshots problem, and on the existence of dedicated forums that trade in the material. A source with access to a private creepshots forum previously provided images from one site that showed people were filming women at Black Lives Matter protests.