It’s been a tough few weeks for white supremacists in the U.S.
First, the so-called “sword and shield” of young white supremacists — the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, a legal organization dedicated to protecting white nationalists’ speech — folded. Along the way, Richard Spencer admitted that his college tour was a resounding bust, attracting empty auditoriums and little else.
And now, in addition to dwindling interest and collapsing legal defenses, it appears the top fundraising mechanism for young white supremacists has also shriveled up.
While it hasn’t announced its official closure, the fundraising site Hatreon — a transparent play on the more prominent Patreon — hasn’t been able to process any funds in over a month. As a disclaimer on the site reads, “Pledging is currently disabled while we upgrade our systems.” The note was originally posted in early February.
It’s unclear what, exactly, is preventing Hatreon from processing payments. Founder Cody Wilson did not respond to ThinkProgress’ questions.
However, Hatreon’s effective collapse presents a swift downfall for what served as the main means of funding young white supremacists across the U.S. until quite recently.
Going live last summer, the site positioned itself as “a patron platform for creators, established in contradistinction to the inexcusable content policing of services like Patreon.” And young white supremacists quickly flocked to the site. According to Bloomberg, Hatreon began gathering upwards of $25,000 per month for its campaigns, becoming, as Wilson tweeted, “the #1 funding platform for the Alt Right.”
And these weren’t anonymous white supremacist trolls, either. Andrew Anglin, creator of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer site, at one point received $8,000 per month from the site last year, with over 220 individual donors joining his campaign. Spencer managed to raise over $1,000 per month. Other notable white supremacists and fellow-travelers also joined up, from neo-Nazis like Andrew Auernheimer to Brittany Pettibone, the latter of whom was barred from entering the U.K. for her views this week. (Wilson described Hatreon as his “love letter to the failure of the European Union.”)
But issues, technical and otherwise, plagued Hatreon from the outset. Despite setting up a series of shell companies, the banks used by Wilson — once listed as one of the “most dangerous people” in the world by Wired — apparently traced the funds back to Hatreon, dropping Wilson. At least one “major credit card company,” according to the New York Times, also booted Hatreon, “all but killing the company’s prospects for growth.” Hatreon has also had to bounce around via assorted domain registry services.
Now, though, it appears Hatreon’s mounting issues have finally caught up to the site. To be sure, Hatreon wouldn’t be the lone white supremacist funding platform that recently imploded. (See: GoyFundMe.) But the site is easily the most prominent fundraising site, saturated with white supremacists, to collapse.
There’s a chance Hatreon may yet return; as Wilson said earlier this year, “There’s a difference between being down and being out of business.”
There’s a difference between being down and being out of business.
— Cody R. Wilson (@Radomysisky) January 12, 2018
But having been down for already a month, and having watched so many other white supremacist projects implode, Hatreon may well be the latest failed project in the white supremacist milieu — and one that will force white supremacists to scrounge elsewhere for funds.