Substack’s founders have responded to Twitter’s new restrictions on promoting tweets with links from the publishing platform, telling The Verge that writers’ 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.”
On Thursday night, Twitter users noticed that they couldn’t like, reply to, or retweet some tweets that had Substack links in them. Twitter hasn’t said why it made the change — or if the change was even intentional — but the timing is certainly suspect, given that it happened about a day after Substack announced its own Twitter-like “Notes” product.
And there’s precedent for Twitter putting restrictions on links from a rival platform. The company abruptly banned all links to Instagram, Mastodon, and other competitors in December before reversing that decision soon after. Twitter has also started charging developers to use its API, many of which have struggled to keep their Twitter apps and bots alive following the change.
Here’s the full statement from founders Chris Best, Hamish McKenzie, and Jairaj Sethi:
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.
We asked Twitter for comment, but the company’s press email auto-replied with a poop emoji, which has been happening since the middle of March.