Substack Clears the Absolute Lowest Bar

Casey Newton, Platformer:

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 headline and dek of this article paint a picture in my mind that Substack will remove all Nazi publications when they are reported because it is an inherently violent ideology, but Newton clarified via email that it is something which will be decided on a case-by-base basis.

Molly White [sic]:

i spoke personally with hamish mckenzie last week, and came out of the conversation with very little faith in the company’s approach to moderation. i’m glad they caved on this point (or promised to cave?), but i am not optimistic something similar won’t happen yet again

The problem I have long had with Substack’s moderation policies is not necessarily about how many publications it hosts which are discriminatory, hateful, or full conspiracy-brained idiocy — though I do object to how many of those users make money from Substack — it is its downright welcoming attitude toward all those things. McKenzie dusted off the doormat for the “people [who] do hold those [Nazi] and other extreme views” despite disliking them. It is one thing to have a permissive attitude toward speech. It is quite another to treat people writing Nazi-supporting newsletters as just some users among many, so long as they are not advocating for violence or death threats.

Update: Five. Substack will remove five newsletters that “violate our existing content guidelines, which prohibit incitements to violence based on protected classes”. I appreciate Platformer digging into this and pressuring Substack, but they are truly clearing the lowest possible bar.