Elon Musk Twitter vs Substack Writers
Matt Taibbi and Dr. Robert Malone protest the loss of free speech and independent journalism
On Good Friday, the world’s richest man launched a war against independent writers. Elon Musk, who supposedly is creating a platform for free speech, pulled a Judas and blocked engagement with Substack links on Twitter.
Then the social media billionaire added a warning to the links saying they are “unsafe.” Journalistquit Twitter. Dr. Robert Malone said the platform is “disgusting.”
Late on Holy Saturday, Musk blinked and allowed links back to Substack without warnings. Even though Jesus rose from the dead in three days, it’s unlikely angry Substack writers will return to Twitter by Easter.
The battle launched suddenly when you couldn’t like, comment on or retweet a link on Twitter that went back to a writer’s Substack post. Then you got a warning the link could be malicious.
Musk’s minions made it impossible to search for the word “Substack.” If you tried, you got the word “newsletter.”
They also made it so we can’t embed tweets into our stories, which was bizarre because they traffic back to Twitter. They flipped it back again on Saturday evening. So it’s like this:
Why? Substack Notes
Twitter has not made a statement or given an explanation for the Substack ban.
Musk retweeted Taibbi’s resignation and said the broken links were in retaliation for Substack building a “Twitter clone” — referring to a new feature called “notes.” He wrote:
Substack’s co-founderresponded to Musk in notes, giving a point-by-point defense. He wrote, "It's one thing to mess with Substack, but quite another to treat writers this way."
I’ve been a beta tester for “Notes”, which should roll out this coming week. It looks and operates a lot like Twitter but does not have big names or media outlets giving real-time news. It is not realistic that Musk is threatened by it from a business perspective.
Why? Liberal Activists
COVID expert doctortweeted that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) forced Twitter to break the Substack links. The ADL called Substack a “home” for “hate speech” and listed specific publications that were dangerous. (Below are screencaps in case Twitter takes away embedding again.)
ADL said ominously that having those posts’ links on Twitter “violates the platform’s existing content moderation policies.” Four days after the ADL post, Twitter put a warning on all Substack links.
Taibbi and Twitter Files
Musk turned on his one-time ally and probably the most famous reporter on Substack,of .
You’ll remember I wrote about Taibbi’s reporting on the so-called Twitter Files, which exposed how conservatives had been shadowbanned and censored. Musk gave Taibbi exclusive access to all the internal documents. Taibbi even testified before Congress about his Big Tech and government discoveries.
Musk also gave Twitter files toof the and Michael Shellenberger of . It was a huge “get” for Substack’s independent journalists to have this exclusive access instead of a mainstream media outlet.
Once Taibbi heard that Twitter blocked the Subtack links, he tried to contact Musk. He said in a chat with his subscribers that Musk didn’t respond to him.
Taibbi said in an article that Twitter told him to leave Substack and post on their platform. He declined and then announced he was leaving Twitter to his 1.8 million followers and would be using “notes” next week. Musk then unfollowed Taibbi, which means they can’t send direct/private messages.
Taibbi said Musk then took down all the Twitter files tweets — the ones he authored in an effort to create transparency at the company! (The tweets were later “restored.”)
Why this matters
I would not be writing this if Substack didn’t exist. It is the only place that has empowered writers to make money without being influenced by having to get advertisers and sponsors.
Also, Substack became popular during the pandemic because it was the only platform that allowed dissension from the public health and medical narrative on COVID.
The doctors and journalists who were deplatformed on Twitter for questioning vaccine mandates came to Substack to write directly and without censorship. Think of Dr. Mary Talley Bowdenand of -- who sued Twitter over being deplatformed for his reporting on vaccines.
While the pandemic is over, there will be another issue that the government doesn’t allow discussion in the big Silicon Valley outlets. Also…