I'm sure most of my readers are well aware of the reasons I run my newsletter from Ghost instead of Substack.
Most of my readers followed me here from the original World-Weary which was based on Substack back in the day. The rest of my subscribers tend to come from Medium, where I've written several articles about Substack's Nazi Bar problem and why I chose to leave.
I originally shifted The World-Weary Missive back in April, and at the time I had no illusions about it sparking a trend. I didn't see any mass exodus coming, even though a number of my fellow writers were talking about the same issue and encountering the same problematic hate-mongers in their comment sections.
When I left, I did so because I write about human rights and activism. And I simply could not, in good conscience, have 10% of my subscriber's payments go to a company that profits off of hatred and bigotry.
Flash forward to today, and...the conversation is still going on. At the moment there is a massive push for accountability on the part of Substack's powers that be, with over 200 publications putting out an open letter demanding answers about the Nazi Bar Problem.
The demands are simple enough; explain why Substack profits off of hate by allowing bigoted, open Nazis to collect paying subscribers off of their platform. And more; explain why Substack's founders have promoted some of them and helped them break Substack's own Terms of Service without getting dinged.
I recommend reading the open letter that these writers are sharing around; it's well worth a look.
(Side note, Sharon's publication is excellent and deserves support. It sucks that Substack has put her in this position.)
While I no longer give Substack any money, and I no longer publish my work on the platform, I keep an account for the sake of keeping my eyes on the situation.
I have friends there that I want to support, at least with words and promotion if not with my dollar.
Like many others, I want to do my part to elevate their voices and keep these concerns at the forefront of the company's mind. This situation has already made headlines, and it's bound to make more.
Forbes has written about Substackers Against Nazis. The Hill has posted about it, so has Fast Company and Media Post and The Atlantic, which sparked it all.
Substack's only response has been to link people to a different letter. A letter praising their hands-off lack of moderation. That letter has about 80 signataries so far, including the likes of Matt Taibbi and Richard Dawkins.
Yeah. Great names, there. Ugh.
Substack repeatedly refuses to engage on the subject of hate speech and bigotry on its platform. It refuses to discuss the matter, to offer any answers besides, "Free Speech!" and it will not consider how the platforming of Nazis effects its reputation.
Even when I first jumped on Substack back in the day, I got comments asking me why I was writing for the place that encouraged far-right extremism in the name of making a buck.
They already have the Nazi Bar reputation, and they just keep doubling down on it. It's awful from a purely ethical perspective, and from a business perspective it's just plain stupid!
Rational, decent people vastly outnumber the hateful twerps who want to read Nazi shit. When we all leave for Substack's competitors, do they really think they'll be able to keep the ball rolling? Do they think there will be enough revenue to sustain the company just from anti-science, anti-vax, anti-LGBTQ+ and racism?
If they do, oh honey. They're in for a seriously rude awakening.