Science & Tech

Elon Musk just made another ‘petty’ Twitter change against a rival platform

Elon Musk just made another ‘petty’ Twitter change against a rival platform

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Twitter CEO Elon Musk really wants you to like the social media network above anything else – even when he’s making doge memes and immature poop jokes – to the point where he’s now been accused of making a “petty” move against a rival platform.

Newsletter provider Substack, which was a competitor to Twitter-owned Revue before Musk shut it down (of course), unveiled an upcoming ‘Notes’ feature on Wednesday which allows writers to “post short-form content and share ideas with each other and their readers”.

Seemingly acknowledging the fact the tool bears a striking resemblance to Twitter, the company’s announcement went on to add: “While Notes may look like familiar social media feeds, the key difference is in what you don’t see. The Substack network runs on paid subscriptions, not ads. This changes everything.

“The lifeblood of an ad-based social media feed is attention. In legacy social networks, people get rewarded for creating content that goes viral within the context of the feed, regardless of whether or not people value it, locking readers in a perpetual scroll.

“Almost all the attendant financial rewards then go to the owner of the platform.”

Not naming any names…

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Naturally, Musk’s Twitter – which previously blocked accounts from sharing links to rival platform Mastodon last year – decided to respond by stopping embeds and authentication on Substack, with the newsletter company acknowledging the problem in a post to Twitter on Thursday.

This was then followed by a statement from the company’s founders on Friday, in which they said: “Any platform that benefits from writers’ and creators’ work but doesn’t give them control over their relationships will inevitably wonder how to respond to the platforms that do.”

In a continuation of the back and forth, Twitter has apparently stopped accounts from liking, retweeting or replying to this tweet from Substack – obviously.

Oh, and if you search for ‘Substack’ on the platform, then you’ll get results for ‘newsletter’ instead, reportedly. Twitter now warns that Substack links are “unsafe”, too.

All of this, from an entrepreneur who usually goes on about “free speech absolutism”, has led Twitter users to brand the Tesla founder “petty”:

The move by Musk’s Twitter is so unpopular, in fact, that author and journalist Matt Taibbi, who collaborated with the SpaceX founder on ‘The Twitter Files’, has confirmed he will be making the move to Substack Notes “next week”.

In a Twitter thread shared on Friday, he wrote: “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.

“Since sharing links to my articles is a primary reason I come to this platform, I was alarmed and asked what was going on. I was given the option of posting articles on Twitter instead.

“I’m obviously staying at Substack.”

Responding to one Twitter user on Saturday, Musk claimed Substack links “were never blocked” on the platform and that Taibbi’s comments are “false”.

“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,” he said.

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