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Twitter Shadow Bans Substack Links
Blaming Others Rather Than Taking Personal Responsibility Harms You
If you’re reading Substack articles, you’ve likely heard that Matt Taibbi was tweeting that Twitter was “blocking” Substack links. It’s not that the links weren’t showing up, but that supposedly they couldn’t be liked or retweeted. I have a pinned post on my Twitter account leading to my substack page and I viewed it from another browser, not signed in, and it was visible. I am unsure if it was “likable” or not.
I may never have known about Substack Notes if it wasn’t for this reaction from Twitter. It’s the definition of the Streisand Effect. I always say in my Law of Attraction Substack, “What you resist persists.” Basically whatever you “fight against” stays there because in your fighting it you are pouring your attention onto it. Your brain is primed to focus on anything that seems similar to what you’re looking to find. If you put your attention on other things, your brain can be primed to think of solutions, rather than to notice more problems.
But I saw the following tweet after Bret Weinstein asked Elon about it and the problems it brings for free-speech. In Elon’s response he said Substack links weren’t blocked, Substack was trying to download a “massive” portion of the Twitter database, and Matt is an employee of Substack.
It’s true that Substack links were not blocked. I could still see them. Matt could be working for Substack and may have motivated reasoning blocking him from thinking and speaking accurately about what went down. Elon’s point about Substack downloading the Twitter database sounds like hacking. Of course, Elon has motivated reasoning for making Substack sound bad here too.
There’s obviously more to the story than what Matt was sharing. I’m sure there will be more known later. But, regardless of why it happened, it did shine a big spotlight on Substack Notes.
If Substack wasn’t doing anything illegal then they’ll carry on with the Notes feature and it’s going to be bigger than it would have been if Twitter had not “shadow-banned” the Sustack links.
I think “shadow banning” would be a better term than “blocked,” because Substack was allowing the links to exist, but if people can’t like, share, or comment on them like people have been suggesting then those links will not be seen by nearly as many people as they would have been otherwise.
About half of the reason I was on Twitter was to share links to my substack articles. I wasn’t a paid Twitter user but the chances of my ever paying them went to zero with this move. If I have to choose between paying Twitter to write my long-form thoughts out versus using Substack where I get paid to write, it’s a no-brainer which one I’ll choose. And Twitter will lose. I already know there are paid Twitter users out there who will not stay paid any longer simply because it’s no longer worth it for them.
If Substack did something illegal, Twitter should sue. If Substack didn’t do anything illegal, then Twitter shouldn’t complain about it. Instead, they should fix whatever internal issues they have that allowed something they didn’t like to happen.
But it looks like Twitter shot themselves in the foot because they’re concerned about a competitor. If you see someone as a competitor, you can label them a “persecutor” who you need to “fight.” Or you can take personal responsibility and make your site better so people want to use yours over the other alternatives. It’s not the first time I’ve seen drama triangle dynamics coming from Elon Musk. You can read my previous article below.
EDIT: Someone mentioned if you search for Substack on Twitter to find links, Twitter searches for “newsletter” instead. Indeed. I attempted this and “newsletter” was the bolded word in my results. /edit
If Twitter hadn’t “fired shots” in “shadow banning” substack links but rather focused where they have personal responsibility - improving themselves to keep people wanting to use them over other sites - then fewer people would be finding out about Substack Notes.
It is always best to focus on what you can be responsible for and improve yourself rather than worrying about what the competition is doing. Focusing on what you do want is far better than focusing on what you don’t want. This is a perfect example of this.
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