Substack is Corrupt and Modern Life is a Bummer
I was so excited about Substack!
I was this close to not doing anything with my Substack account. I loved the idea of a writer-focused blog hosting site—I felt immediately that it was a site for ME.
So, why did I almost do nothing with my account? Because Substack.com allows the spread of Covid misinformation. In fact, they don’t even have a misinformation policy! How, in 2022, does a content host NOT have a misinformation policy?
I discovered this sad truth when an independent journalist I follow here on Substack (and on Twitter for years) put out a plea for more financial support because a known spreader of Covid misinformation was getting more financial support than he was.
My immediate thought was “dude, why are you asking me for money? Tell Substack management to get rid of the guy! They shouldn’t make money off of lies that kill people!” After all, Twitter had already banned this guy and The Atlantic called him “the pandemic’s wrongest man.”
I reached out to Substack myself and complained. They replied with something to the effect of “who we ban and when/why we ban is not something we discuss.” I replied, saying something like “that’s the problem—you don’t have a specific policy that singles out misinformation.”
The only response I got after that was a “how did we do?” survey email. Which I promptly filled out, explaining the issue once again in the “is there anything else you want us to know?” field, I think it was.
In a post about this very thing, Substack themselves said, essentially, they do not believe in censorship. Even when I commented, pointing out that this isn’t “censorship” but was actually about facts and was in the interest of safety and saving lives. There are other places for people to go to continue to spread their lies, though maybe those other places aren’t as conducive to making money—especially for Substack.
I wrestled with the dilemma for a couple weeks. Do I try to make money on a platform that makes money off of misinformation that has lead to a great many deaths? Substack is really focused on writers and helping them make money from their writing. I am unaware of any other site/service that has this same focus.
Then, that independent reporter who first made me aware of this issue did an AMA on his own Substack blog and I was able to ask him about why he stays on Substack despite them making money off of lies/death. He replied with something along the lines of, “the policies on other platforms are worse.”
His statement reminded me of how none of us can really take part in society without committing some sort of moral offence. Whether it’s exploiting a worker, an animal, polluting the environment—look deep enough into your actions and you’ll find a way you’re hurting someone or something somewhere in a way that would make you feel like shit if you thought about it long enough.
And this is just another way I’m doing that. Maybe if you can complain to Substack and start a blog here and write a post with a similar sentiment to mine we can shame them into implementing a misinformation policy.