Shots Fired: The Twitter-Substack War & Matt Taibbi’s Not-So-Good-Friday
As the first Easter weekend in three years with the possibility of ‘normality’ in social interactions, ‘Good Friday’ turned into a ‘No Good, Very Bad Friday’ for many Substack-ers, including most notably Twitter Files-amplifying journalist Matt Taibbi.
As The Epoch Times’ Tom Ozimek writes, Taibbi, who posts his articles on Substack and is one of the most popular contributors on the platform, announced he’s leaving Twitter in protest of apparent changes that have made the platform unusable for him.
The indefatigable independent journalist made the announcement in a post titled “The Craziest Friday Ever” and a series of tweets, in which he said that he had just learned that Substack links were being blocked on Twitter.
“When I asked why, I was told it’s a dispute over the new Substack Notes platform,” Taibbi wrote in a tweet.
By way of background, Substack recently announced Notes, a feature that allows short-form posts similar to tweets.
The move appears to have prompted Twitter to retaliate by blocking the ability to share Substack links on Twitter or like, retweet, and comment on tweets that include a link to Substack articles.
“We’re investigating reports that Twitter embeds and authentication no longer work on Substack,” Substack said on its own Twitter account.
“We are actively trying to resolve this and will share updates as additional information becomes available.”
Which could be a major problem for writers who have chosen Substack as their distribution and marketing platform, since 25% of Substack traffic comes from Social Media…
…and 61% of that traffic comes from Twitter…
So one can see why this would be an issue for Substack writers as a key marketing platform is reportedly removed.
Taibbi confirmed the problem on his Substack platform:
“It turns out Twitter is upset about the new Substack Notes feature, which they see as a hostile rival,” adding that when he asked how he was supposed to market his work, he was given the option of posting his articles on Twitter rather than on Substack.
“Not much suspense there; I’m staying at Substack,” Taibbi wrote, confirming his decision to leave Musk’s platform:
“Beginning early next week I’ll be using the new Substack Notes feature (to which you’ll all have access) instead of Twitter, a decision that apparently will come with a price as far as any future Twitter Files reports are concerned.”
“It was absolutely worth it and I’ll always be grateful to those who gave me the chance to work on that story, but man is this a crazy planet,” he added.
But Twitter CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that Taibbi’s assertion that Substack links were being blocked on Twitter is false.
“Substack links were never blocked. Matt’s statement is false,” Musk wrote.
In line with Musk’s remarks, there is no direct block but Twitter has started marking links to Substack as unsafe…
Twitter now has a warning label up on Su—ack posts, claiming the links “may be unsafe,” furthering the smear campaign against the independent publishing platform.
A guy worth 200 billion dollars is damaging the ability of people who are mostly trying to make a few extra bucks… pic.twitter.com/ZheeWDfeYU
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) April 8, 2023
…something we at ZeroHedge know a thing or two about…
This is crazy though pic.twitter.com/uXcLjiCktj
— Austerity Cornflakes (@itslikeyouknow_) April 8, 2023
Musk said that Substack was trying to “download a massive portion of the Twitter database to bootstrap their Twitter clone, so their IP address is obviously untrusted.”
Finally, Musk added that it “turns out Matt [Taibbi] is/was an employee of Substack.”
1. Substack links were never blocked. Matt’s statement is false.
2. Substack was trying to download a massive portion of the Twitter database to bootstrap their Twitter clone, so their IP address is obviously untrusted.
3. Turns out Matt is/was an employee of Substack.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 8, 2023
While many have remarked on this being antithetical to Musk’s free-speech mission, it is clearly more nuanced than that given the Substack’s leveraging the openness of Twitter while creating a product that would directly compete with it…
This is kinda my first reaction too. Basically you leverage writers who leveraged twitter to build a following. Twitter is almost certainly the most important channel for writers to acquire customers. So you then kinda try to compete directly with them. Hmm https://t.co/fMInvFv7Cv
— Buyback Capital (@Larryjamieson_) April 8, 2023
Additinally, as The Brownstone Institute’s Jeffrey Tucker notes, the timing itself is alarming because the very woke ADL just published a big attack on Substack with the usual litany of complaints about how the platform is enabling disinformation.
“The ADL Center on Extremism observed a recent increase in Substack’s popularity, as well as several conspiratorial or extremist influencers either creating their own Substacks or directing their followers to others. A number of these Substack accounts were dedicated to spreading extremist, antisemitic and conspiratorial narratives, and several problematic authors are popular enough to have earned a ‘bestseller’ ranking on the platform.”
The article proceeds along familiar tactics. It lists aggressively hateful sites promoting real hate and anti-Semitism. As the reader warms up to the thesis and sees the point, the article starts including merely partisan material from Libs of TikTok, then goes after poor Steve Kirsch who writes mostly entirely about vaccines, and then even includes eminent scientist Robert Malone, just so we are clear about what is going on here.
The attack here is entirely pointless. The reader can handle egregious sites on Substack by simply not reading or subscribing. By throwing in good scientists with absolute hate-mongers, the article only serves a censorious agenda.
We can only hope that this situation gets ironed out sooner rather than later as Musk’s ‘opening’ of the public square for those of us who may not toe-the-line 100% with every press release from The White House and Taibbi’s detailed exposé of every ‘conspiracy theory’ we have pointed out becoming ‘conspiracy fact’ has moved America (and perhaps the world) inch by inch closer to real democracy… as opposed to the escalating narrative-control that we have experienced over the last decade.
Instead of blocking Substack, Musk should allow links but only to paying users who are already monetizing on the other side and are using Twitter for distribution.
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) April 8, 2023
But it appears the rumble in the social media jungle just escalated…
👀 @ElonMusk (Account that mostly reposts old memes) is no longer following @mtaibbi
— Big Tech Alert (@BigTechAlert) April 7, 2023
Make Orwell Proud Again!