Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is currently engaged in a heated dispute with investigative journalist Matt Taibbi over allegations that the social media platform Twitter is stifling the dissemination of Substack content.
The dispute began when Taibbi, a former ally of Musk, announced that he would be leaving Twitter due to his belief that the platform was restricting the spread of Substack content. Substack is an online platform that allows writers to publish and monetize their own newsletters.
In response to Taibbi’s claim, Musk denied the allegations on Twitter, calling them “false.” He went on to explain that Substack was attempting to download a large portion of the Twitter database to create its own version of Twitter, and as a result, their IP address was considered untrusted.
Musk’s tweet read, “Substack was trying to download a massive portion of the Twitter database to bootstrap their Twitter clone, so their IP address is obviously untrusted. Turns out Matt is/was an employee of Substack.”
Musk’s response has led to an escalation in the feud between the two, with Taibbi firing back on Twitter, “I’m not an employee of Substack. I don’t have any financial interest in the company. And what you’re saying about them downloading the Twitter database is nonsense.”
The dispute has highlighted the ongoing tension between traditional media outlets and platforms like Substack, which offer a new way for writers to publish their work and reach a wider audience.
Feud between Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi
While Substack has been praised for giving writers more control over their work and the ability to monetize their content, it has also been criticized for its lack of editorial oversight and potential to spread misinformation.
The feud has also drawn attention to the power dynamics at play between individuals with large social media followings, and the potential for misinformation to spread quickly on these platforms.
Taibbi’s departure from Twitter, while not directly related to the dispute with Musk, highlights the challenges faced by independent writers and journalists trying to make a living in a media landscape dominated by social media platforms
.@elonmusk, you know that thing where the left eats its own? We mustn’t let that happen to the emerging western-values/free-speech coalition. Many of us who have backed your Twitter play and taken substantial heat for it are thrown by this move. The public square isn’t a monopoly https://t.co/qe1Gn6P6H6
— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) April 7, 2023
After Elon Musk denied allegations that Twitter was restricting the spread of Substack content, Twitter users used a feature called “Community Notes” to fact-check his claims.
The note appended below Musk’s tweets cited research confirming that Substack content had indeed been “throttled” on Twitter and that Matt Taibbi was not employed by Substack, contrary to Musk’s claims.
Substack co-founder Chris Best also responded to Musk’s interpretation of the situation on the company’s new social media platform, Notes. Best argued that “Substack links have been obviously throttled on Twitter. Anyone using the product can see this,” and expressed frustration at the treatment of writers.
Of all things: I learned earlier today that Substack links were being blocked on this platform.
When I asked why, I was told it’s a dispute over the new Substack Notes platform…
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) April 7, 2023
Taibbi, who had previously worked with Musk in revealing sensitive documents concerning Tesla’s inner workings, publicly announced his intention to leave Twitter on Friday, stating that he had discovered Substack links were being blocked on the platform.
He was told that it was due to a dispute over the new Substack Notes platform. As sharing links to his articles was a primary reason for his use of the platform, Taibbi was alarmed and asked for clarification.
He was given the option of posting articles on Twitter instead but decided to stay with Substack and move to Substack Notes the following week.
We’re glad to see that the suppression of Substack publications on Twitter appears to be over. This is the right move for writers, who deserve the freedom to share their work.
— Substack (@SubstackInc) April 9, 2023
By Saturday night, it seems that Substack and Twitter had managed to resolve their dispute, and Substack stated that the “suppression” had ceased. However, it remains unclear whether Matt Taibbi has reconsidered his decision to leave Twitter following this development.
Substack released a statement saying, “We’re pleased to see that the suppression of Substack publications on Twitter seems to have ended. This is a positive development for writers who should be free to share their work.” The company also expressed the belief that Twitter and Substack can continue to coexist and work in harmony.
Substack also shared that they will be launching Substack Notes soon but clarified that it is not intended to replace existing social networks. Instead, they see it as a new type of space within a subscription network.