Twitter restricts Substack links after platform announces competing ‘Notes’ feature

Users were given the message "Some actions on this Tweet have been disabled by Twitter" when they try to retweet or like a post containing a Substack link.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

UPDATE: On Saturday, Musk responded to the Substack saga with the following tweet:

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.

Original story follows:

On Friday, Twitter users reported issues with retweeting or liking posts that contain links to Substack, a newsletter platform.

Twitter has placed restrictions on how users interact with posts containing the links, coming days after Substack announced that it would launch "Notes," a feature that closely resembles Twitter.

On the desktop version of Twitter, users were given the message "Some actions on this Tweet have been disabled by Twitter" when they try to retweet or like the post. Likes and retweets on the mobile version of the social media platform did not work.

The outlet stated that it appears that Twitter has blocked responses to tweets that include Substack links as well.

"It appeared, however, that tweets with links to Substack newsletters with a unique domain name or shortened links did function normally on Twitter," NBC reported.

In a statement to The Verge, Substack founders Chris Best, Hamish McKenzie, and Jairaj Seth said, "We’re disappointed that Twitter has chosen to restrict writers’ ability to share their work. Writers deserve the freedom to share links to Substack or anywhere else. This abrupt change is a reminder of why writers deserve a model that puts them in charge, that rewards great work with money, and that protects the free press and free speech. 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."

"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," the founders wrote on Twitter.

In a post announcing Substack Notes, the three said that Notes would be a way for users to post "short-form content and share ideas with each other and their readers," and will "drive discovery across Substack."

Unlike it’s recommendations feature, "Notes will give them the ability to recommend almost anything—including posts, quotes, comments, images, and links," the trio said.

The post later added, "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."

Matt Taibbi, one of the journalists who broke the Twitter Files and uses Substack to post articles, said in an email on Friday: "Earlier this afternoon, I learned Substack links were being blocked on Twitter. Since being able to share my articles is a primary reason I use Twitter, I was alarmed and asked what was going on.

"It turns out Twitter is upset about the new Substack Notes feature, which they see as a hostile rival. When I asked how I was supposed to market my work, I was given the option of posting my articles on Twitter instead of Substack.

"Not much suspense there; I’m staying at Substack. You’ve all been great to me, as has the management of this company. Beginning early next week I’ll be using the new Substack Notes feature (to which you’ll all have access) instead of Twitter."

Tech Crunch described Substack's Notes feature as remarkably similar to Twitter:

"Notes shared on the platform are displayed in a dedicated short-form feed that looks a lot like Twitter. Once you share a note, it’s essentially like posting a tweet. Each note displays a like count and comment count. There’s also the option to “restack,” or retweet, a post."


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