Twitter flags Substack links as unsafe as feud continuesReading Time: 2 minutes
Cross-app promo is a no-no.
The Twitter versus Substack battle rages on, as the social media app seemingly continues to discourage promoting offsite Substack posts by marking all site links as ‘unsafe’ for users.
On April 7, Twitter appeared to add a warning to all external Substack links, the Verge reported, prompting users to steer clear of the platform and describing them as possibly ‘spammy or unsafe.’
Elon Musk later denied claims that the site was blocking Substack links, tweeting on Saturday:
1. Substack links were never blocked. Matt’s statement is false.
2. Substack was trying to download a massive portion of the Twitter database to bootstrap their Twitter clone, so their IP address is obviously untrusted.
3. Turns out Matt is/was an employee of Substack.
Substack co-founder Chris Best then rejected Musk’s claim that Substack was downloading Twitter data outside of the bounds of its API database. ‘We believe we’re in compliance with the terms, but if they have any specific concerns we would love to know about them! We’d be happy to address any issues,’ wrote Best.
Earlier this week, the newsletter platform seemed to initiate the final straw against Twitter by launching its new Substack Notes feature — a ‘recommendations’ feed that looks strikingly similar to the traditional, scrollable social feed at the crux of Twitter’s use. As many seek to leave the Elon Musk-owned social media app, Substack seemed to be providing alternatives, including a recently launched chat function that lets newsletter writers and followers engage with each other.
In response, Twitter has speedily put up roadblocks to Substack promoters on the platform, including the site’s official account. On Thursday, Twitter blocked Substack users from embedding tweets in stories. Not long after, tweets with links to Substack posts seemed to be barred from engagement, only allowing users to quote tweet posts — no likes or retweets for anyone. Soon, no one could engage with the official Substack Twitter account, either, with Musk openly ‘breaking up’ with Substack writer and Twitter Files reporter Matt Taibbi.
Substack told MediaDownloader that the moves were a strike against the freedom of its writers. ‘Their livelihoods should not be tied to platforms where they don’t own their relationship with their audience, and where the rules can change on a whim.’
The new anti-Substack addition seems to be the most pointed attempt at keeping Twitter users off of Substack. According to The Verge, this is the first adjustment to Twitter’s URL policy since 2020. Twitter has not yet offered an explanation.
UPDATE: Apr. 8, 2023, 2:31 p.m. EDT This story was updated with statements from Twitter CEO Elon Musk and Substack co-founder Chris Best.
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