When it comes to Twitter, Substack was on borrowed time. Musk has shown anti-competitive behavior in the past. In response to Substack announcing their notes feature, it appears as though Musk has sanctioned Substack in it’s entirety. I appreciate that Substack has been a valuable platform for many who spoke out during the Covid Crisis. They provide a quick way of starting a newsletter and a valuable feature of allowing cross-pollination between communities through social features.
At the end of the day, Substack is still a Service as a Software Substitute. Like many other entities, the convenience of getting started quickly or seamlessly is exchanged for a loss in freedom. Many rush to accuse Musk of “building walls” around his platform, but is Substack really much different?
Substack made a deliberate decision to allow embedded twitter tweets and youtube videos, but hasn’t included various competitors to those platforms. Both twitter and YouTube have centralized and decentralized competitors that could have also been included, yet there is no sign of embedded PeerTube or even Rumble videos any time soon.
Twitter has retaliated against Substack the same way it attacked Mastodon, by labeling links to the platform as dangerous. This is and was a blatant case of profit-driven disinformation, yet neither Musk nor Twitter will face any sanctions for watering down the concept of such warnings. It’s an act of deliberately yelling “Fire!” in your theater when a specific performer goes onstage.
Substack under attack?
To the degree the platform has allowed authentic investigation into questions that the powerful don’t want investigated, every platform is under attack. It does not necessarily be an all-or-nothing affair, it could be limited to a specific author, or specific post that gets too much attention. No matter what, Substack is going to have a difficult task of balancing the needs of it’s writers against the pressures put against it.
Preserving the good
Many have interpreted the partial removal of mandates as the end of the push for top-down tyranny. Unfortunately this is far from the case, if anything very dangerous precedents have been set without hardly any correction. I would encourage any fellow authors, especially those who wrote during the early days to get involved in documenting it on the Campfire Wiki
There is a lot of excellent and valuable pertinent information exclusively on Substack. I would hope that all of these authors have made sure they have at least a local copy of their work instead of exclusively relying on Substack to keep it online. At minimum, I’d recommend archiving your favorite articles with something like archive.is to be preserved long term.
In addition to me others are also mirrored.
I greatly appreciate being included, and this is a model that would scale quite well. If authors were interested, volunteers could create new “hubs” to mirror excellent content across the internet and bypass the basic link blacklisting censorship. This has the advantage of disarming the programmed response by people who will disregard content if it’s from “tainted” sources. You’ll note this is why the establishment has changed gears to emphasizing that people should only listen to ‘approved’ sources.
A better way
No matter what your process is, consider keeping your writing on your own hardware & software. This means either your own word processor or notes application, or something more sophisticated. This will make it easier to publish and migrate to a variety of other formats. It is fortuitous that I have recently written a guide on getting started on self-publishing yourself with static site generators.
If you’re interested in a more open and decentralized alternative, publishing your own website goes a long way. Static site generators make it easy, but unfortunately you may miss the social aspect. If more and more people migrated to the fediverse, much of the community aspect could be integrated without the same top-down control of centralized social media. If you’re interested in a fediverse-native blogging platform there is write freely
To reiterate, please make sure your work isn’t at the mercy of any single platform. We have seen that the technocracy is eager to constrain the people’s access to information, and to wield the devastating weapon of information control. Reach is a sincere challenge, we can all make our own content resilient, but ultimately people need to have an active desire to seek out alternative voices.
This is why the first operation, Chorus emphasizes the importance of freedom of speech and expression. Those of us with any ability to get the word out do have a responsibility to boost and promote independent authentic voices. This is a tremendous task, there is much that needs to be said and little room to get through the few avenues of getting information to the public.
If you recognize that challenge, you’ll understand my excitement for what we can do to truly democratize information dissemination. Everyone can take action in their own lives to redirect their attention away from platforms and services intended to monopolize their access to information.
Update: Musk Denies Foul Play
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