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# Twitter Restricts Linkage to Substack, Elevating Questions About ‘Free Speech’ within the App

Twitter Restricts Linkage to Substack, Elevating Questions About ‘Free Speech’ within the App

Elon Musk’s interpretation of ‘free speech’ is once more being questioned, with Twitter limiting customers’ capability to share hyperlinks to Substack newsletters, whereas additionally stopping Substack customers from embedding tweets of their content material.

During the last two days, Twitter and Substack customers have been seeing warnings pop-up, in each apps, when attempting to hyperlink to the opposite.

On Substack, when authors have tried to embed a tweet, they’ve been seeing this error message:

Twitter Substack

Whereas on Twitter, sharing Substack hyperlinks has been restricted, whereas attempting to interact with posts that seek advice from Substack content material has additionally been halted.

Twitter Substack

Why? Properly, it’s possible due to this:

Substack Notes

Earlier this week, Substack previewed a brand new, Twitter-like ‘Notes’ factor, which is able to seemingly replicate Twitter performance inside the platform itself. Elon doesn’t like copycats, as he’s beforehand made clear, and evidently Twitter is now taking motion to punish Substack for its perceived insolence.

There’s been no official clarification from Twitter on this, however the Substack group has put out an announcement, criticizing Twitter for limiting its entry.

We’re dissatisfied that Twitter has chosen to limit writers’ capacity to share their work. Writers deserve the liberty to share hyperlinks to Substack or anyplace else. This abrupt change is a reminder of why writers deserve a mannequin that places them in cost, that rewards nice work with cash, and that protects the free press and free speech.”

Which is attention-grabbing, given Musk’s very vocal help free of charge speech rules, calling himself a ‘free speech absolutist’, and presenting this as a key motive for his $44 billion buy of Twitter. However as famous, historical past means that Musk’s view on free speech possible differs from what you’d suppose.

Musk’s monitor document on this really goes again past his buy of Twitter. In late 2021, for instance, Musk tried to cease a Twitter consumer from sharing particulars of his travels on his non-public jet, a case which later grew to become a good larger level of competition as soon as he bought the app.

The ‘ElonJet’ account, which displayed the place and when Elon’s jet was touring, utilizing publicly out there flight information, was initially showcased by Musk for instance of his dedication to free speech, by permitting it to proceed, regardless of it revealing details about his actions. However then, final 12 months, Elon banned the account anyway, as he carried out new guidelines on the app which outlawed all types of reside location monitoring of people by way of tweet.

So free speech is okay, besides when it may, doubtlessly, be dangerous to Elon, and even inconvenient – but that very same logic isn’t relevant to others, like when Elon baselessly accused a cave diver of being a pedophile in 2018, which has since led to ongoing hurt for that particular person.

Musk’s corporations even have a historical past of in search of to stifle competitors, and even crucial evaluations, the place doable.

Final 12 months, Musk’s EV firm Tesla launched authorized motion towards a automotive reviewer who criticized the Tesla Mannequin 3’s auto-braking system. The reviewer, who had a outstanding TikTok channel, claimed that Musk’s firm launched his private data, and paid for social media campaigns to amplify the lawsuit towards him, in an effort to discredit and make an instance of him.

So once more, free speech is okay, besides when it’s doubtlessly dangerous to Musk or his enterprise pursuits. Which, you’d assume, would additionally imply that Elon would have some fairly good perspective on the potential hurt that may be attributable to completely free and open speech, with no restrictions, provided that he’s been attempting to restrict such round his personal private model for years.

However alas, no, that’s not how Musk sees it. As a result of his perspective on the world is completely different to yours, as a result of he’s one of many richest individuals on the planet, and his experiences will not be the identical.

Even in his time as Twitter chief, Musk’s actions haven’t mirrored free speech ‘absolutism’, even, as Musk says, inside the limits of the regulation.

In December final 12 months, Elon banned all hyperlinks to different social platforms by way of tweet, as means to stifle competitors (which was later reversed), whereas Musk has additionally minimize off all third-party builders that created Twitter-like experiences of their apps. Elon has additionally suspended journalists for saying issues he didn’t like, whereas he’s additionally complied with requests from the Indian Authorities to take down unfavorable content material, one thing that earlier Twitter administration had made a stand towards.   

This isn’t ‘free speech’, as Musk has repeatedly acknowledged. In truth, in some instances, it’s nearly the precise reverse, with Musk in search of to make use of Twitter as a method to attenuate damaging stories about him and his enterprise – or actually, something that he simply doesn’t like, as a result of he can.

Which could be the broader focus for Musk in buying the platform, the capability to make use of Twitter as a method of narrative management, with a view to dilute or management reportage by manipulating the media cycle.

As many have famous, Twitter has an outsized affect on this respect as a result of it’s relied upon by so many journalists. The pace of supply makes Twitter the proper platform for staying up on the newest information, and what’s tweeted now typically turns into the main information of the day, as reporters work to get the newest scoop, as quick as doable.

Former President Donald Trump weaponized this factor, utilizing tweets to share his messaging, shortly and simply, which regularly noticed his tweeted feedback changing into the principle media focus at any given time. That additionally enabled Trump to shift that focus every time he wanted, by tweeting out controversial takes to assemble up consideration at opportune instances.

Musk might be doing the identical. For instance, earlier this week, Twitter modified its conventional chicken emblem to a Doge icon, which can also be the image for Dogecoin, which comes as Musk is being sued for $258 million over promotion of Dogecoin to artificially inflate the cryptocurrency’s value.

The change meant that when you went looking for tales about ‘Elon Musk’ and ‘Dogecoin’, the majority of protection was about Twitter altering its emblem, not in regards to the extra damaging Musk racketeering lawsuit.

Perhaps, that may very well be a method of narrative management, or manipulation of media traits – and once more, provided that so many journalists depend on Twitter to remain knowledgeable, Musk may have an outsized affect on this respect.

Which additionally raises questions on what ‘free speech’ really means when Musk says it, and whether or not your interpretation of such is identical in context.

Even as we speak, with Twitter updating its guidelines round Abuse and Harassment, Musk has stated that customers need to go ‘over-the-top by repeatedly harassing the identical account with no provocation to get their publish bounced’. Will that apply to Elon himself? If you happen to had been to repeatedly harass Elon straight, would he be as open to permitting you to remain within the app?

The nuances listed here are vital, and once you view Elon’s phrases, compared to his actions, there’s a mismatch in method, which is critical.

You could help Elon’s stances, however how they’re utilized is equally price noting.

Andrew Hutchinson
Content material and Social Media Supervisor


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