Elon Musk broke his silence about the Twitter CEO’s conflict with the online publishing site Substack and one of its biggest writers Matt Taibbi on Saturday. Taibbi (who worked on so-called Twitter Files) announced on Friday that he is quitting Twitter after Substack severely restricted the sharing of Substack content. Musk calls Taibbi a fool.
“Substack links were never blocked. Matt’s statement is false,” Musk tweeted on Saturday.
Musk insists Twitter never blocked links to Substack posts, which might be technically true in some sense, but doesn’t tell the whole story. Twitter created many obstacles for Substack visitors, warning them that Substack might be dangerous.
Below you will see that Substack could contain harmful links to try and steal personal data or even misleading or violent content.
Anyone trying to like, retweet or tweet a Tweet with a Substack Link is also unable to do this. Twitter shows a notice that reads, “Some actions on this Tweet have been disabled by Twitter.”
You can also see the warning in the bottom image. It was captured by me while I tried to retweet an article from Paleofuture, my Substack blog.
Twitter is doing what? Substack Notes is Substack’s short-form content social media platform. Musk views it as a competitor. Musk also claims Substack attempted to use information obtained from Twitter in order build this feature.
“Substack was trying to download a massive portion of the Twitter database to bootstrap their Twitter clone, so their IP address is obviously untrusted,” Musk tweeted on Saturday.
That claim couldn’t be independently verified and Substack co-founder Chris Best denied Musk’s version of events on Saturday, writing that while Substack has used Twitter’s API for years, he doesn’t believe they were doing anything that was prohibited.
“We believe we’re in compliance with the terms, but if they have any specific concerns we would love to know about them! We’d be happy to address any issues,” Best wrote.
Musk also made a final statement on Twitter which was very misleading.
“Turns out Matt is/was an employee of Substack,” Musk wrote.
Substack claims Taibbi is not an employee but admits that he does get paid through the readers. This is Substack’s entire business model. Substack allows writers to charge readers monthly fees for certain content. Taibbi is one of these people.
“That writers making money seems to be such a strange concept is telling,” Best wrote on Saturday, an apparent dig at Musk trying to charge famous people on Twitter $8 per month rather than paying them for creating value on the site.
It appears that the Substack team is also being punished via Twitter. If you try to search co-founder Chris Best on Twitter, his profile doesn’t show up.
Since he bought the company in Oct 2022, Musk has caused a lot of controversy. Musk recently added a “state-affiliated media” warning to Twitter posts from NPR, he defended Dilbert creator Scott Adams after the cartoonist advocated for racial segregation and he had to apologize after suggesting a Twitter employee was faking his disability. The appearance of the billionaire with major advertisers is even nerve-wracking.
Twitter replied to questions via email on Saturday with an automated reply by Musk, a “poop emoji”. The billionaire is notoriously hostile to media outlets and shut down Twitter’s PR department after he bought the company. I’ll update this article if Twitter ever responds to questions from journalists again. But I’m not holding my breath on that one.