An analysis provided to Hatewatch by SPLC’s Data Lab shows that white nationalist fugitive Robert Warren “Azzmador” Ray has raked in thousands of dollars a month in donations and memberships in 2023 from livestreams on low-moderation “alt-tech” video platform Odysee, using Stripe as a payment processor.
Ray is just one of those identified in the Data Lab’s newly published list of extremist channels on Odysee, which includes many channels soliciting support on the site.
But his growing income on the platform raises questions about Odysee’s and Stripe’s tolerance for lawlessness.
Ray, 56, whose last recorded address was in Frankston, Texas, is wanted in Virginia on felony charges over his alleged use of pepper spray on counterprotesters at the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
According to Texas criminal records, Ray has at least nine previous convictions stretching back to 1993, including assault, drug possession, theft and driving while intoxicated.
In 2021, a judge ordered Ray to pay $500,000 to plaintiffs in Sines v. Kessler, a case brought against “Unite the Right” organizers and leading participants that named Ray as a defendant. The judge in that case said Ray showed “total disregard” for proceedings after he failed to appear at any hearings. Ray has not paid the award, and his whereabouts are unknown.
Despite these legal entanglements, Ray has enjoyed a rising monthly take on Odysee since February, when he began using the site’s membership features to monetize his white nationalist broadcast “The Krypto Report” (TKR), which began in 2017 as a podcast.
Stripe, Odysee funnel money to Azzmador
Odysee offers creators two ways to make money on the site. Supporters can make ad hoc donations, or creators can offer memberships to attract monthly support. In either case, creators need to connect a bank account to the Stripe payment service in order to collect supporters’ money.
Ray offers membership on the site and $5, $7, and $10 monthly tiers. He also receives ad hoc tips during livestreams.
Membership earnings are not publicly recorded, but SPLC Data Lab calculated Ray’s earnings by reviewing chat logs that showed each tip as it was donated.
In January, Ray made $594 from five streams, for an average of $119 per stream. In February, he took in $915 in five public streams, for an average of $183 per stream. In March, he earned $2,261 in 10 streams, averaging $226 per stream. In April, he collected $1,982 in eight streams, for an average of $248 per stream.
Odysee’s payment chart shows that of the $5,753 Ray has earned so far on the site, 5%, or around $288, will have been collected by Odysee as platform fee, with Stripe collecting at least 2.9%, or around $167, as a processing fee. Stripe also claims 30 cents per transaction for payments.
Hatewatch emailed Stripe for comment on Ray’s use of the service. In reply, a spokesperson cited the company’s “policy against commenting about any user or sharing the details about any review,” and offered links to Stripe’s service agreement and prohibitions the company enforces on users.
Hatewatch emailed Odysee for comment but received no response.
The site’s community guidelines ostensibly forbid inciting “hatred or violence towards a particular group or person(s),” and listing race, ethnicity and gender among the possible bases for incitement.
Extremists profiting on Odysee
Like other extremist livestreamers, Ray has received some unusually large donations. On April 16, he received a $999 payment from a user going by the Odysee username “Mainfranken.” That amount was just under the site’s maximum tip amount of $1,000. “Mainfranken” frequently posts on Odysee in German and English. Mainfranken is also the name of a geographic region in central Germany.
A Data Lab analysis of Odysee’s own list of blocked content shows that the site has blocked at least 3,495 videos from being viewed in Germany, stating that “The Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Human Dignity and the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and in Telemedia states this content is illegal.” Ray’s channel is not among those blocked by Odysee by request of the German government.
Ray is not the only extremist who is soliciting donations on the channel. Others who invite donations on the site include extremist conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones; David Duke, white power extremist and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan; white nationalist hate group Patriot Front; white nationalist propaganda outlet Red Ice TV; and the white nationalist National Justice Party.
The neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, which is banned in Finland, also has several monetized channels on the site. Some U.S. legislators have demanded that Nordic Resistance be declared a terrorist group.
The Odysee website was founded in 2020 by LBRY Inc. as an application of their LBRY protocol for decentralized file sharing, and initially it allowed users to support creators with their LBC cryptocurrency.
From the outset, LBRY Inc. promoted its platforms as being less strictly moderated than established big tech platforms like YouTube. In 2021, Julian Chandra, then vice president for growth at LBRY, wrote in an email to staff that a “Nazi that makes videos about the superiority of the white race” would not necessarily have their video removed.
In November 2022, a judge upheld the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) case that LBC was an unregistered security. A year earlier, during the SEC suit, Odysee was split from LBRY to become a separate corporate entity, and began allowing ordinary currency and payment processors for creator donations.
Photo illustration by SPLC