Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (l) and accused anti-Semite Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg (r), via Wiki Commons.
Media,  Technology

Crypto platform DLive bans Alex Jones (sorta) but may be courting PewDiePie

The blockchain-based streaming video site lacks clarity on hosting offensive streamers

Several days after Blockchain-based streaming video platform DLive told Modern Consensus it had dropped a channel by the racist alt-right radio host Alex Jones from its platform, more than 400 of his videos were still accessible.

Jones is the notorious host of Infowars, a conspiracy-theory show favored by the far right. It is known for fake news and wild theories, notably that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks and that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed the lives of 26 people, most of them children, was a hoax. Last summer, the site was banned by YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, and Apple.

On April 1, Jones claimed in a court deposition for a lawsuit being brought against him by a group of Sandy Hook victims parents, that he was suffering from a “form of psychosis” and was “wrong” when he claimed the shooting was a hoax.

On April 5, the same day Modern Consensus asked about it, a spokesperson said that had been dropped for violating the DLive community guidelines, community guidelines, which banhate speech that directly attacks a person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, disease, age, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.”

Despite saying Alex Jones' channel is banned, DLive still maintains the page as of April 8, 2019.
Despite saying Alex Jones’ channel is banned, DLive still maintains the page as of April 8, 2019.

But as of April 8, the channel was still accessible. In response to a request for comment by Modern Consensus, a spokesperson for DLive said that while the livestream function of the channel was banned immediately, the deletion of a complete channel takes time and is underway.

Meanwhile, DLive is reportedly trying to recruit the hugely popular but increasingly controversial YouTube celebrity PewDiePie, who lost a Disney-owned sponsor Maker Studios after he posted anti-Semitic videos in February 2017.

One person familiar with DLive’s plans told Modern Consensus that the company is pursuing PewDiePie, and the Swedish streamer gave the company a shout-out when a donation of £5,180 was made by DLive to a livestreamed charity fundraiser he held in December for CRY, which works to end child labor in India. It raised more than £173,000 from 10,781 donors.

The donation was made by DLive CEO Charles Wayn personally, and not by the company, said spokesperson Qimei Lou.

Attracting someone with the fame of PewDiePie would be an enormous coup for DLive, which is seeking out popular content creators with its Global Partner campaign.

It would also be something of a moon shot by the company, which is trying to become the YouTube of the blockchain. Its Global Partner campaign targets streamers with more than 1,000 followers, and its parent company Lino raised $20 million last year, whereas PewDiePie’s earnings were $15.5 million last year, which made him the ninth-highest earning YouTuber.

DLive’s response when asked about PewDiePie wasn’t exactly a denial. “DLive is growing fast and we welcome creators from all platforms to join DLive,” said Gentry Henry, a PR spokesperson, via email. “We’re very creator-friendly: we have zero platform cuts [of revenue earned by streamers]. Creators’ communities are also rewarded for the time they spend on the platform. Aside from that, we don’t have any news to share regarding PewDiePie.”

How controversial is too controversial?

Whether a company like DLive can actually attract a PewDiePie-level streaming personality, it does highlight the balancing act new entrants in the streaming video market face when deciding who to allow on their platform.

While PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, has a huge following—93.6 million—he also has a reputation for offensive comments, including of anti-Semitism and racism.

That reputation was highlighted on March 15, when the New Zealand Christchurch mosque shooter called out “subscribe to PewDiePie” on the YouTube livestream of his rampage. Kjellberg said he was “sickened” by that support, but his appeal to the white nationalist Alt-Right movement is reported to be growing.

After Kjellberg posted nine anti-Semitic videos, he was dropped by Disney-owned sponsor Maker Studios in February 2017. And there is a fledgling movement to oust PewDiePie from YouTube with a petition with that goal having nearly 75,000 names—which is about 0.08 percent of PewDiePie’s viewership.

To deal with offensive and inappropriate material, DLive is recruiting DLive Guardians who would be responsible for moderating channels, including terminating streams that breach its community guidelines, which banhate speech that directly attacks a person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, disease, age, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.”

Like other blockchain-based video streaming channels, DLive has seen controversial creators come on board after being banned from more mainstream channels like YouTube, which isn’t always easy to police without a huge staff. And even with its resources, Facebook struggled with the New Zealand shooter’s video and has faced fierce criticism for leaving it up too long and doing too little to remove it, despite having taken down or blocked uploads of the video 1.5 million times within 24 hours of the massacre.

What is DLive?

DLive is a DApp built on the Lino Testnet blockchain. Lino raised $20 million from investors including China’s Zhenfund.

Its business model is to take 9.9% from the micro-tipping, gifting, and subscriptions made by Lino members, with the remaining 90.1% going back to the content creator who received the donation. Lino’s cut is a fraction of the  45% YouTube takes. Some of its competitors include DTube, LBRY, Viuly, and Theta.

Unlike traditional platforms, DLive takes absolutely zero platform cuts from users’ donations and subscriptions,” Wayn wrote. “Instead, the economic system has been designed to revolutionize revenue distribution by rewarding the community for their contributions rather than a corporation.”

DLive uses LINO points, tokens created by the Lino Blockchain and purchased with a Lino account. Their value is set at US $0.012. DLive viewers and streamers can “lock” some of these points, and share in the remaining 9.9% of LINO Points gifted. Currently, the points can only be bought with PayPal.

DLive is built on a test version of the Lino Blockchain, a decentralized blockchain which creates LINO Points on a daily basis. It uses a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) model and can handle thousands of transactions per second.

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.