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Tireless Busybodies Again Target Substack


Geee

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Substack is under attack again. The crusade is led by a site contributor, Jonathan Katz, whose style might be characterized as embittered-conventional, i.e. toting the same opinions as every mainstream editorialist, only angrier about it. There’s been more of this genre on offer here as staff positions for talking-point-spouters dry up in legacy shops, but hey, it’s a free country. If you want braying about fascism, Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk, the lab leak theory, and other #Resistance horrors you’d hear about if you just left MSNBC on in a corner — or feel deprived of headlines like “What Ron DeSantis and a Norwegian mass murderer have in common” — Substack’s got you covered. It’s not my idea of what alternative media’s for, but fortunately, nobody asked me. Why should I care what other people read?

Katz does. Though this site is a true content free-for-all, where you can find everything from serialized graphic novels to Portuguese “dark storytelling” to bagel bites recipes, a microcosm of the old Internet where the randomness of being able to hop from Bigfoot to Buddhism is a key part of the free vibe, Katz believes he’s detected a malicious pattern. He aims to put a stop to it, by deplatforming Substack contributors he doesn’t like. A group letter is being organized, demanding action, following Katz’s stern argument in the Atlantic, “Substack Has a Nazi Problem.”

As an aside: a big reason people read Substack is because of the terribleness of magazines like The Atlantic, which is edited by a guy, Jeffrey Goldberg, who won a pile of awards for blowing the WMD story in spectacular fashion for years on end, making him a walking, talking symbol of the failing-upward dynamic in corporate media. If that magazine wants people to read Substack less, it might consider not filling its pages with exposés about the Alfa Server fantasies or plaintive defenses of the Steele dossier or other transparent propaganda, instead of demanding deplatforming here.

Like a prosecutor introducing an adverse witness early, Katz in his piece concedes a numerical observation about the “white supremacist” problem on Substack:

These are, to be sure, a tiny fraction of the newsletters on a site that had more than 17,000 paid writers as of March, according to Axios, and has many other writers who do not charge for their work…

Really he should stop there, but trudges forward. There are 16 whole sites, he says, that deploy some variation of a swastika on Substack, and despite these being both legal and a complete non-factor in the national discussion, their existence cannot be tolerated. After explaining his real gripe, that “Substack’s leaders proudly disdain the content-moderation methods that other platforms employ,” Katz comes to the moment — inevitable in this humorously consistent genre of diatribe — in which he threatens to pick up his Substack ball and go home:

The question is what kind of community Substack is actively cultivating. How long will writers such as Bari Weiss, Patti Smith, and George Saunders — and, for that matter, me — be willing to stake our reputations on, and share a cut of our revenue with, a company that can’t decide if Nazi flags count as hate speech?:snip:

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1 hour ago, Geee said:

The question is what kind of community Substack is actively cultivating. How long will writers such as Bari Weiss, Patti Smith, and George Saunders — and, for that matter, me — be willing to stake our reputations on, and share a cut of our revenue with, a company that can’t decide if Nazi flags count as hate speech?

Doesn't he know that, according to Claudine Gay, it all depends on "context"?

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The question is what kind of community Substack is actively cultivating. How long will writers such as Bari Weiss, Patti Smith, and George Saunders — and, for that matter, me — be willing to stake our reputations on, and share a cut of our revenue with, a company that can’t decide if Nazi flags count as hate speech?

1 hour ago, SDwaters said:

Doesn't he know that, according to Claudine Gay, it all depends on "context"?

I want it out there in public. It's like Bill Engvald says, Stupid should wear a sign saying Stupid Person  So you can know who to 1. Ignore, 2. Make Fun Of.

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  • 1 month later...

With Revenues Declining, Corporate Media Demand Substack Censorship
Claims of rampant Nazism on social media continue to fall apart
Zaid Jilani and Alex Gutentag
Jan 18, 2024

As Public reported earlier this month, the censorship campaign against Substack is largely based on exaggerations and half-truths. Critics claim that Substack has a “neo-Nazi problem,” but the reality is that there are few neo-Nazi newsletters on the platform, and they have a tiny number of readers and subscribers. If anything, Substack’s policy on free expression seems to be successful in marginalizing extreme voices, who are much less popular than more mainstream ideas on the platform.

But new details uncovered by journalist Jesse Singal suggest that the Atlantic article by Jonathan Katz that started the latest anti-Substack campaign was even more flawed than we realized.

Singal caught factual errors in Katz’s article. First, Katz claimed that anyone who is “restricted from making money on Substack” is banned from the platform.

(Snip)

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