Quick recap: Substack, the popular subscription newsletter platform for writers, launched a new feature in its app called Notes last week, which is fairly similar to Twitter.
Twitter, the world-historical clown car of a company currently operated by Elon Musk, responded by blocking the ability to like or retweet any posts containing the word “Substack,” throwing up a warning message if users clicked on Substack links, and finally blocking even the word Substack from being searched. Substack users, the vast majority of whom are independent small business owners who depend on Substack as an enterprise software provider, mostly responded to this by saying they would leave Twitter and use Substack Notes. (There’s more here, but it’s a combo platter of hilarious and tiresome given some of the personalities involved. Just click the links.)
Musk sort-of explained his decision in a reply this week by claiming that Substack was “trying to download a massive portion of the Twitter database to bootstrap their Twitter clone” which is very funny — just imagine starting any sort of Twitter competitor and prepopulating it with the garbage of Twitter — and also a pretty huge claim to make without any evidence.
The Substack Notes post from CEO Chris Best.
Anyhow, Substack CEO Chris Best responded to Elon with a post on Substack Notes, of course. The feature in in beta so there’s no permalink as yet, but he passed it along to us and we’re posting a screenshot so people can refer to it.
Best says Substack has used the Twitter API for years and thinks they’re in compliance with the terms of service; the implication is that Twitter never told the company about any alleged violation. And of course, Best says the whole situation is “very frustrating,” with a nod to the fact that Substack writers are actually customers of his enterprise software product; messing with Substack links has more impact on individual small business owners than it does on the platform company.
It is worth noting here that Andreesen Horowitz is an investor in both Substack and neo-Twitter, so that’s going great. And if you’re reading this you can probably just react to the phrases “free speech,” “Twitter,” and “Elon Musk” in whatever way kicks your Saturday night off right. I trust you. Party hard.