Elon Musk has given Holocaust denier user, Defund Israel Now, a golden checkmark, Futurism reports.
Elon Musk's "flaming dumpster" social media network has handed a Holocaust-denying and Hitler-praising account a gold checkmark, which the company supposedly uses to recognize official organizations.
The blatantly antisemitic account, called "Defund Israel Now," has more than 35,000 followers on the platform and is presumably paying X anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for its gold status since late last year.
In a move to try and add moderation Substack has added a way to report posts and publications. It is not clear what happens when you report a user, who is moderating these reports, or what the consequences are for getting reported.
Paris Marx has moved his newsletter, Disconnect, away from Substack to Ghost.
It's official: Disconnect has moved to Ghost! The Substack days are behind us — and not a moment too soon.
Once this whole Substack Nazi controversy kicked off, it quickly became clear to me that my time on the platform was up, but it's been incredible to see the degree of incompetence among Substack's leadership team and their ideological commitment to the right-wing conception of free speech they've adopted as a guiding principle.
In a statement from Casey Newton he announced that Platformer will be leaving Substack and moving to Ghost.
After much consideration, we have decided to move Platformer off of Substack. Over the next few days, the publication will migrate to a new website powered by the nonprofit, open-source publishing platform Ghost. If you already subscribe to Platformer and wish to continue receiving it, you don't need to do anything: your account will be ported over to the new platform.
I reached out to journalists and experts in hate speech and asked them to share their own lists of Substack publications that, in their view, advanced extremist ideologies. With my colleagues Zoë Schiffer and Lindsey Choo, I reviewed them all and attempted to categorize them by size, ideology, and other characteristics.
In the end, we found seven that conveyed explicit support for 1930s German Nazis and called for violence against Jews, among other groups. Substack removed one before we sent it to them. The others we sent to the company in a spirit of inquiry: will you remove these clear-cut examples of pro-Nazi speech? The answer to that question was essential to helping us understand whether we could stay.
It was not, however, a comprehensive review of hate speech on the platform. And to my profound disappointment, before the company even acted on what we sent them, Substack shared the scope of our findings with another, friendlier publication on the platform, along with the information that these publications collectively had few subscribers and were not making money. (It later apologized to me for doing this.)
The point of this leak, I believe, was to make the entire discussion about hate speech on Nazis on Substack appear to be laughably small: a mountain made out of a molehill by bedwetting liberals.
To us, the six publications we had submitted had only ever been a question: would Substack, in the most clear-cut of all speech cases, do the bare minimum?
I just want to say again that to me, this was never about the fate of a few publications: it was about whether Substack would publicly commit to proactively removing pro-Nazi material. Up to the moment I published on Tuesday, I believed that the company planned to do this. But I no longer do.
Ryan Broderick, writer and creator of the popular internet culture newsletter Garbage Day annouced he is leaving Substack.
None of this had to happen. Ghost, a Substack competitor, has almost no real moderation to speak of, but no one seems to care. You know why? Because it's not trying to jam all of its users into one feed to compete with Twitter or whatever. Substack, meanwhile, has insisted on adding more social features over the last three years, instead of making their email product better. Which is still missing tons of pretty basic features. And so they, predictably, ended up creating a poorly moderated network that was attractive to extremists. It's been a decade since ISIS uploaded their first videos to social media. We know that this is what extremists do. And you can't protect your social network on a case-by-case basis when you “become aware” of it. And don't even get me started on silly a feed-based social platform is when you don't have any ads on your site. Also, the funniest irony here is that their social features don't even work! I asked around to make sure it wasn't just me and it's not. The Substack app doesn't actually convert any readers.
Jonathan M. Katz shows how Hamish McKenzie was directly involved in the letter against content moderation
Jonathan M. Katz, author of article in The Atlantic that showed the Nazi problem at Substack, shared a link to a podcast where Elle Griffin, creator of the letter that supports Substack allowing Nazis on the platform, stated that Hamish McKenzie, co-founder of Substack, would help garner attention to the open letter.
Thanks for doing this, Mike Freedman. Thanks to you we now have confirmation that Substack co-chief Hamish McKenzie was directly involved in the creation of Elle Griffin's anti-Substackers-Against-Nazis “pre-buttal” group letter. And that he then hid behind it, disingenuously pretending it was an independent, organic effort that just happened to coincide with his views.
Here's the key part, transcribed:
GRIFFIN: I wrote my own Substack Note … just saying things are better here than anywhere else, literally anywhere else on the internet. And the founder of the Substack, Hamish McKenzie, sent me an email just being like, thank you so much for this Note. It said, I think it was something like, 'Love this Note. You nailed it.' And I just responded back, 'No, actually you're nailing it. Thank you for designing the platform this way.'
GRIFFIN: And I mentioned to him that I had reached out to the Atlantic and I had proposed a rebuttal piece to them. Nobody had got back to me. Of course. And so then I was like, I think I'm just going to write—I'm going to expand it into my own letter on Substack. And he was like, 'Well, if you do, I'd be happy to help you find people to sign it if you want.' And so then I was like, okay, let's just do that then.
GRIFFIN: So I wrote an article, he sent an email out to some people, and I sent an email out to all of my people, and I sent them all the drafts that I wrote and was like, what do you think? Are you in? And they all signed their names on a Google doc, and then we published it.
More information is coming out about the Nazi Substacks that have been removed. The Verge is reporting that there are a total of five Nazi Substacks that will be removed from the platform.
Contacted by The Verge, Substack downplayed the situation in a statement signed by co-founders Chris, Hamish, and Jairaj, saying it would remove five publications that "do indeed violate our existing content guidelines, which prohibit incitements to violence based on protected classes." According to the letter, none of the publications removed had paid subscriptions enabled and accounted for "about 100 active readers in total."
Casey Newton, writing on Platformer, is reporting that Substack will be removing certain Substacks due to Nazi-related posts adn rhetoric.
Substack is removing some publications that express support for Nazis, the company said today. The company said this did not represent a reversal of its previous stance, but rather the result of reconsidering how it interprets its existing policies.
As part of the move, the company is also terminating the accounts of several publications that endorse Nazi ideology and that Platformer flagged to the company for review last week.
The company will not change the text of its content policy, it says, and its new policy interpretation will not include proactively removing content related to neo-Nazis and far-right extremism. But Substack will continue to remove any material that includes “credible threats of physical harm,” it said.
Molly White, creator of Citation Needed, has announced her departure from Substack.
[I]n a more just world, it would be the Nazis who just spent sixty hours migrating their newsletters to self-hosted solutions devoid of the kind of network effects and promotion that Substack offers. And where do I draw the line between which platforms I will and won't use, when so many platforms seem to be just varying degrees of awful?
In the end, though, the decision was pretty clear: it was time to move on from Substack. I wasn't going to spend so much time and energy on my writing just to have to try to ignore that a rather large cut of the money I make here goes towards a company that thinks Nazi "discourse" is more important than the very real harms of providing these people a platform and revenue.
Rusty Foster, writer for Today in Tabs, has left Substack.
I said I'd do it and I did it, so Today in Tabs is finally free of Our Former Regrettable Platform, who did not become any less regrettable over the holidays.
I spent the rest of the break extracting Tabs from the Nazi bar and setting up our new home here on Beehiiv. Yesterday on a Google Meet Beehiiv CEO Tyler Denk effortlessly cleared the lowest bar in content moderation by saying with his own voice “Nazis are banned.” He didn't even appear to be sweating. And he said that goes for anti-trans content as well! It was wild seeing a tech executive just casually making the right decisions one after another.
Casey Newton, founder of Substack newsletter Platformer stated that he is meeting privately with Substack in hopes to change their decision to allow Nazi content on their platoform. Along with that he is working with Jonathan M. Katz in hoped to have a list of all the Nazi Substacks on the platform to bring forth to both Substack and their payment provider Stripe.
Content moderation often involves difficult trade-offs, but this is not one of those cases. Rolling out a welcome mat for Nazis is, to put it mildly, inconsistent with our values here at Platformer. We have shared this in private discussions with Substack and are scheduled to meet with the company later this week to advocate for change.
Meanwhile, we're now building a database of extremist Substacks. Katz kindly agreed to share with us a full list of the extremist publications he reviewed prior to publishing his article, most of which were not named in the piece. We're currently reviewing them to get a sense of how many accounts are active, monetized, display Nazi imagery, or use genocidal rhetoric.
We plan to share our findings both with Substack and, if necessary, its payments processor, Stripe. Stripe's terms prohibit its service from being used by “any business or organization that a. engages in, encourages, promotes or celebrates unlawful violence or physical harm to persons or property, or b. engages in, encourages, promotes or celebrates unlawful violence toward any group based on race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or any other immutable characteristic.”
It is our hope that Substack will reverse course and remove all pro-Nazi material under its existing anti-hate policies. If it chooses not to, we will plan to leave the platform.
We'll share our complete findings in another post when it is ready. In the meantime, we want to hear from you. Have unsubscribed or considered unsubscribing from Platformer or other Substacks over this issue? If so, email us and we'll share a selection of the feedback with Substack.
Substack co-founder, Hamish McKenzie, shared a Substack Note stating that Substack will not be removing or demonetizing Nazi content.
I just want to make it clear that we don't like Nazis either,—we wish no-one held those views. But some people do hold those and other extreme views. Given that, we don't think that censorship (including through demonetizing publications) makes the problem go away—in fact, it makes it worse. We believe that supporting individual rights and civil liberties while subjecting ideas to open discourse is the best way to strip bad ideas of their power. We are committed to upholding and protecting freedom of expression, even when it hurts.
Over 100 Substack writers responded to a report from The Atlantic that stated there are tens of thousands of subscribers reading white-supremacy newsletters. In the letter they state,
From our perspective as Substack publishers, it is unfathomable that someone with a swastika avatar, who writes about “The Jewish question,” or who promotes Great Replacement Theory, could be given the tools to succeed on your platform. And yet you've been unable to adequately explain your position.
In the past, you have defended your decision to platform bigotry by saying you, “make decisions based on principles not PR” and “will stick to our hands-off approach to content moderation.” But there's a difference between a hands-off approach and putting your thumb on the scale. We know you moderate some content, including spam sites and newsletters written by sex workers. Why do you choose to promote and allow the monetization of sites that traffic in white nationalism?
Your unwillingness to play by your own rules on this issue has already led to the announced departures of several prominent Substackers, including Rusty Foster and Helena Fitzgerald. They follow previous exoduses of writers, including Substack Pro recipient Grace Lavery and Jude Ellison S. Doyle, who left with similar concerns.
As journalist Casey Newton told his more that 166,000 Substack subscribers after Katz's piece came out: “The correct number of newsletters using Nazi symbols that you host and profit from on your platform is zero.”
We, your publishers, want to hear from you on the official Substack newsletter. Is platforming Nazis part of your vision of success? Let us know—from there we can each decide if this is still where we want to be.
Elle Griffin, Substack writer for The Elysian, shared an open letter stating that Substack should not moderate any hate speech on the platform.
After an opinion piece was recently published in The Atlantic critiquing fringe voices on the platform, many Substack writers began calling for moderation. They want the platform to decide who can say what, and who can be here.
But I, and the writers who have signed this post, are among those who hope Substack will not change its stance on freedom of expression, even against pressure to do so.
Because we've seen that before and it hasn't worked. Other social media platforms have actively given reach to an enormous amount of divisive content, and moderation has amounted to private companies deciding who to deplatform based on their own agenda. Facebook has struggled with hate speech and misinformation no matter what it has tried with its moderation policies, and Twitter's moderators have actively suppressed stories that might sway an upcoming election, among other discrepancies.
There can be no doubt that there is a lot of hateful content on the internet. But Substack has come up with the best solution yet: Giving writers and readers the freedom of speech without surfacing that speech to the masses. In your Substack Inbox, you only receive the newsletters you subscribe to. Whether you're a reader or a writer, it is unlikely you'll receive hateful content at all if you don't follow it.
Let the writers and readers moderate, not the social media platforms. And don't have one big town square we all have to be exposed to, have a bunch of smaller ones that we can choose to be part of.
Maybe in the future we will come up with an even better idea than this one, but right now, Substack is not just a model for a better social media, or even a better media—it's a model for a better internet.
In a report from Jonathan M. Katz at The Atlantic the almost lackluster moderation policy from Substack has allowed white-supremacy and white nationalism (Nazis) to grow by the thousands.
At least 16 of the newsletters that I reviewed have overt Nazi symbols, including the swastika and the sonnenrad, in their logos or in prominent graphics. Andkon's Reich Press, for example, calls itself “a National Socialist newsletter”; its logo shows Nazi banners on Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, and one recent post features a racist caricature of a Chinese person. A Substack called White-Papers, bearing the tagline “Your pro-White policy destination,” is one of several that openly promote the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that inspired deadly mass shootings at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, synagogue; two Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques; an El Paso, Texas, Walmart; and a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. Other newsletters make prominent references to the “Jewish Question.” Several are run by nationally prominent white nationalists; at least four are run by organizers of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia—including the rally's most notorious organizer, Richard Spencer.
Some Substack newsletters by Nazis and white nationalists have thousands or tens of thousands of subscribers, making the platform a new and valuable tool for creating mailing lists for the far right. And many accept paid subscriptions through Substack, seemingly flouting terms of service that ban attempts to “publish content or fund initiatives that incite violence based on protected classes.” Several, including Spencer's, sport official Substack “bestseller” badges, indicating that they have at a minimum hundreds of paying subscribers. A subscription to the newsletter that Spencer edits and writes for costs $9 a month or $90 a year, which suggests that he and his co-writers are grossing at least $9,000 a year and potentially many times that. Substack, which takes a 10 percent cut of subscription revenue, makes money when readers pay for Nazi newsletters.
Twitter is placing ads for Amazon, NBA Mexico, NBCUniversal, and others next to content with white nationalist hashtags
IBM has suspended their advertising on Twitter stating it has “suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation.” This comes off the heels of reporting from Media Matters showcasing antisemitic conspiracy theories that Twitter owner, Elon Musk, endorsed.
As X owner Elon Musk continues his descent into white nationalist and antisemitic conspiracy theories, his social media platform has been placing ads for major brands like Apple, Bravo (NBCUniversal), IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity (Comcast) next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party. The company's placements come after CEO Linda Yaccarino claimed that brands are “protected from the risk of being next to” toxic posts on the platform.
Yaccarino has been trying to bring advertisers back to the platform by claiming it's safe for business. She's also claimed that X (formerly Twitter) has been “demonstrating its absolute commitment to combating antisemitism on the platform” and that “antisemitism is evil and X will always work to fight it on our platform.”
But her boss last night endorsed the pernicious antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people are supporting “hordes of minorities” who are “flooding” into the country to replace white people. That conspiracy theory was the same one that motivated the deadly 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting.
Substack co-founder says "we don't like or condone bigotry," doesn't explain how Notes will moderate it
Substack Co-Founder, Hamish McKenzie, shared a note attempting to clarify comments he made last week on the Decoder podcast where he refused to state that saying racist remarks was against their user guidelines.
Last week, we caught some heat after Chris didn't accept the terms of a question from a podcast interviewer about how Substack will handle bigoted speech on Notes. It came across poorly and some people sternly criticized us for our naivety while others wondered how we'd discourage bad behaviors and content on Notes. We wish that interview had gone better and that Chris had more clearly represented our position in that moment, and we regret causing any alarm for people who care about Substack and how the platform is evolving. We messed that up. And just in case anyone is ever in any doubt: we don't like or condone bigotry in any form.
Substack CEO, Chris Best, fumbles in an interview with Nilay Patel on