A Canadian technology startup – which already provides monetized streaming for a range of white power propagandists, hate group leaders and a wanted fugitive – has now created a custom-made platform for white nationalist streamer Nick Fuentes after a payment processor apparently forced him off their main platform.
And Hatewatch can reveal that Chthonic Software, whose principals have recently decamped from Calgary, Alberta, to Turkey, has so far been able to run their Entropy platform using infrastructure provided by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
Chthonic, which incorporated in Alberta in 2018, launched Entropy in 2019 as a video livestreaming service allowing creators to collect payments from their viewers.
They have actively promoted the site as a “free speech” alternative to mainstream social media services – repeating the pitch used by other extremist-friendly “alt-tech” platforms including Bitchute, Gab and Parler.
Like those sites, Chthonic’s promise of limited moderation has attracted prominent extremists, some of whom were deplatformed from mainstream sites in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., or earlier.
In a December podcast, Greg Johnson, who runs the white nationalist website and publisher Counter-Currents, said, “Entropystream is the only way we can take credit card payments.”
Johnson added, “We have been deplatformed from the global credit card processing industry by angry merchants, unhappy merchants, who don’t like our message,” using coded antisemitic terms familiar to observers of white nationalist groups.
There are some indications that Chthonic has been specifically courting this niche of deplatformed extremists.
A tweet from their official “@EntropyDevs” Twitter account on July 10, 2020, promoted a livestream with white nationalist comedian Owen Benjamin, with the promise of a “censorship free interaction.”
A separate tweet on March 12, 2020, reminded followers that they could send paid “offline super chats” to French-Canadian white nationalist Jean-Francois Gariepy in advance of his stream later that evening.
And on Jan. 28, 2020, a tweet featuring a screenshot of white nationalist Nick Fuentes streaming in the Entropy app was captioned, “While corporate media is closing down comment sections and streaming platforms step up their censorship efforts, @NickJFuentes has still found a way to offer you censorship free interaction. Join him, LIVE NOW in Entropy.”
Fuentes’s Twitter account has since been banned, and while he was for a time using Entropy to collect payments from devotees to his white nationalist “America First” media brand, as of late last month he could no longer be found on the site.
On Nov. 29, Fuentes told the viewers of his nightly stream that he could no longer use Chthonic’s flagship platform to collect payments.
“Entropy is not going to work anymore … because I was banned,” Fuentes said, explaining that “their payment processor forced them to ban me, by name.”
Fuentes continued, “Their payment processor called them up, at Entropy, and said, ‘If you don’t ban Nick Fuentes, we’re going to deplatform your whole site.’”
But in the same stream Fuentes said a solution had been found.
“We have a new superchat system,” Fuentes said, referring to a convention in streaming services whereby users make donations and streamers in return prioritize reading and interacting with those users’ questions and comments.
“Superchats are back,” Fuentes added, without elaborating on how this had been accomplished. “The link is in the description of this stream.”
Days before, Chthonic’s co-founder, director and CEO, Emmanuel Constantinidis, had offered an explanation to Entropy users.
After he was asked on Entropy's Discord chat server whether Fuentes had been banned from the service, Constantinidis wrote, “Yes, but we built him a replacement."
Constantinidis continued, “It’s a complicated story, but sufficed to say we won't leave anyone out to dry.”
On the Nov. 29 broadcast, Fuentes went on to announce that future superchat-style payments would be handled by a new site, Streampayments.
The URL for that new site was registered on Nov. 17, according to DNS records.
Users who register for the Streampayments site receive an email with the subject line “Streampay Account Verification” from “email@example.com,” an email address linked to the URL of the original site from which Fuentes was removed, apparently belonging to co-founder Rachel Constantinidis, who is also Emmanuel’s wife.
Hatewatch reviewed source code for the Streampayments site and confirmed that it contained payment processing routines for both Entropy and Streampayments.
From source code and a payment receipt obtained by Hatewatch, it is evident that Stripe is currently the main payment processor for Entropy users.
In a discussion on Chthonic’s discord server, Rachel Constantinidis stated that Google Pay’s tools were used to encrypt customer credit card information.
Far-right streamers can earn tens of thousands of dollars per month from audience donations, as Hatewatch has previously reported.
And according to their own publicity materials, Chthonic pockets 15% of the money streamers bring in on Entropy.
The company has also sought other revenue streams, however. In a fundraising plea posted to subscription fundraising site Subscribestar, Entropy asked for $2,937 to “cover our basic costs so that we can continue building a censorship free internet and producing useful and interesting content as we bring you along on our journey.”
By October, this effort had netted the company only three patrons, two at the $5 per month level and one pledging $10 per month. By December, Entropy’s Subscribestar page had been deleted.
DNS records for both Entropy and Streampayments reveal that both of their sites are reliant on the infrastructure Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform provides.
Azure supplies hosting, software, platform and infrastructure services to website creators and administrators via the technology giant’s global network of data centers.
Notably, Azure’s ready-made tools make it easier for inexperienced developers to create websites with sophisticated features such as livestreaming that require high storage and bandwidth.
Emily Laidlaw is Canada research chair in cybersecurity law at the University of Calgary, where her research focuses on online abuse, free speech and law reform.
In a telephone conversation, she said that while Canada is “in the middle of law reforms” around online hate speech, currently “there is no intermediary liability” when it comes to hate speech.
“If the platform is acting as as an intermediary, there is no specific law to address its liability for hate speech,” Laidlaw continued.
“The question is whether a court would view the platform here as communicating hate speech – essentially not in the capacity of an intermediary – and thus can bring charges under the criminal code.”
Her colleague at Calgary, associate professor Michael Nesbitt, is an expert on the intersection between law, national security and terrorism.
In a separate telephone conversation, Nesbitt pointed to the Canadian government’s recent proscription of several far-right actors as “terrorist entities,” including The Base , Atomwaffen Division , the Proud Boys and James Mason.
He said that these proscriptions explicitly criminalized offering support – including monetary support – to such groups, but that the underlying law did not require an entity to be listed for prosecutions over support for terrorist acts.
He added that while “we haven’t seen a case where a website host has been held responsible” for providing support to such entities or acts, the obligations the laws put on financial institutions meant that they may cut off anyone proximate to extremism from an abundance of caution.
Hatewatch contacted Microsoft, stripe and Chthonic founder and CEO Emmanuel Constantinidis with detailed requests for comment on their relationships. None immediately responded.
Fuentes is not the only extremist who utilizes the platforms Chthonic has built on top of Microsoft’s foundations.
Prominent white nationalists streaming and collecting payments on the site include:
- Failed comedian and would-be compound builder Owen Benjamin.
- Longtime white nationalist propagandist Greg Johnson, who has a page under his Counter-Currents brand.
- Patrick Casey, leader of the white nationalist American Identity Movement (formerly Identity Evropa).
- Robert Ray aka “Azzmador,” a neo-Nazi fugitive wanted for his role in the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
- British neo-Nazi and conspiracy theorist Mark Collett.
- Matt Parrott, co-founder of the now-defunct Traditionalist Worker Party.
- White nationalist talk show Red Ice TV.
In addition to these, Hatewatch’s analysis revealed at least 30 more monetized extremist accounts on Entropy.
According to a long post from Emmanuel Constantinidis on Entropy’s Discord server on May 13, Chthonic appears to be deliberately attempting to create a platform that will accommodate white supremacist ideologues.
He also criticized rival alt-tech services such as Odysee and DLive for implementing bans on hate speech, saying that it would lead to the “censorship of legitimate dissident opinions.”
In the post, he told users, “We have been working at decoupling Entropy from services we view as at risk from politically motivated targetting,” adding that “this means fortifying our payments systems, servers, and mail system from attempts at deplatforming.”
According to documents obtained from Alberta’s provincial government, Chthonic was incorporated on Jan. 25, 2018, by Emmanuel and Rachel Constantinidis, who at that time both resided in Calgary.
At some point between that date and Hatewatch’s records search on Dec. 1, David Bell, also listed as a Calgary resident, was added as a director, with each of the three shown as owning 33.333% of voting shares in the company.
While they are still listed as Alberta residents, YouTube videos reviewed by Hatewatch indicate that the trio, along with Bell’s wife, have moved to Antalya, Turkey.
Photo illustration by SPLC (L-R: Robert Ray aka "Azzmador," photo by Abdul Aziz; Nick Fuentes, photo by Getty Images; Owen Benjamin, photo from Wikipedia)