Scott Tibbs

Substack newsletters are not "unsafe" links, and Elon Musk knows it

By Scott Tibbs, April 12, 2023

I was taken aback when I logged onto Twitter on Saturday morning to find all links to my blog - and every other Substack publication - had been flagged by Twitter as "unsafe" links. This is because Twitter owner Elon Musk has become afraid that Substack will take away his company's audience.

If Musk had simply said he will not allow links to Substack newsletters, I could at least respect his honesty even while rolling my eyes at his childish insecurity. But he instead dishonestly disabled all links to Substack as "unsafe." Substack newsletters are not unsafe, and Musk knows it. Claiming otherwise is deeply dishonest. It is impossible to have any respect for someone who lies so openly. As I have said before, Musk is not an ally of conservatives and never has been.

This whole kerfluffle is stupid and unnecessary. Twitter and Substack are "competitors" in the sense that they both appeal for readers' attention, but they are totally different platforms. This is especially true since Twitter discontinued its own newsletter service, Revue. There is no reason that Twitter and Substack cannot compliment each other, with links to Substack posts driving content and engagement on Twitter.

It is one thing to ban links to Twitter alternatives, as Musk did when disallowing links to Mastodon nodes late last year. It is something completely different to ban links to long-form content, especially content that is an alternative to the mainstream media. Musk claims to be a supporter of "free speech," but marking Substack links as "unsafe" does more to entrench the establishment narrative than almost any other policy Musk could implement. And once again, this policy is completely based on lies. How can we trust a single word that Musk says about anything, when he has exposed himself as such a brazen liar?

Not only is Musk openly lying to us, knows that we know the "unsafe links" claim is a lie. Lying is bad enough, but Musk is openly insulting our intelligence. When Musk decided that links to Mastodon would not be permitted because it is a competitor, he showed liberals the respect of being open with them about what he was doing and why he was doing it. Musk does not have the same respect for conservatives when blocking links to a free-speech oriented blogging platform.

This comparison is an important one: Gab CEO Andrew Torba would never do what Elon Musk did. Gab is actually committed to free speech. Despite conservatives falling all over themselves praising Musk over the last year, Gab remains the only true home of free speech on the Internet. As I said before, conservatives need to stop praising people simply because they annoy the Left. "Own The Libs" is not the foundation of a strong conservative policy agenda.

Musk has publicly considered stepping down from running Twitter. At this point, that is looking more and more like the right decision. Twitter needs a CEO who is not an insecure child. Openly blocking links to Substack shows Musk is not only not committed to free speech, he is far too brittle to run a major corporation. Twitter needs a steady hand, not knee-jerk reactions based in fear and insecurity.

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