Audrey Watters on walking away (again) from Substack after their open embrace of Nazis:
I am quite sad that it seems we have learned nothing from the grotesque misinformation and disinformation campaigns waged online in recent years (indeed, we’re hard-coding it into things like ChatGPT, but that’s a different apocalyptic vision for a different day) – the 2020 Presidential election, anti-vaccine nonsense, and so on. We have learned nothing from the ways in which far-right groups have organized and spread their messages online, thanks to the technology industry’s refusal to moderate content and their reluctance to deplatform hate. (De-platforming is necessary. And research shows too: it actually does work.). We have learned nothing from the right’s success in shifting the “Overton window,” in no small part because the media – both old and new – continue to profiled their members as stylish or reformed. Again, Substack has made it very clear that it hopes to be at the center of this narrative during the upcoming election cycle; the company and its investors believe that hate and controversy will be quite profitable.
Me, I’m not keen to participate in anti-democratic technologies – which does make this whole Internet thing, you know, a challenge.
And now, to the owners of Substack, who have decided to make their lovely and effective site potentially untenable, here’s an open “screw you” offered on the marketplace of ideas, in response to your horseshit dishonest open reply to our honest open letter; for taking the most intellectually vapid position possible and then positioning it as a virtuous principal, for confusing standards with censorship; for dodging your moral responsibility as an owner of a platform to regulate it for deliberate violent threat against marginalized people, in order to make the problem you created something the targets of that threat (and also your users) now have to deal with.
Full transparency: After Twitter shut down Revue, I moved Etcetera to Substack—it was the easiest way to quickly archive the content and keep everything intact. I’m not sure if I’ll bring the newsletter back, but, if I do, it will be on Buttondown or another platform with similarly anti-Nazi views.