Ending Social Media Censorship And The Meteoric Rise Of Substack

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Aug 30, 2021 - 03:50 PM

(Submitted by Quoth the Raven at QTR's "Fringe Finance" blog:

Substack is going to be where I’m penning my new column, “Fringe Finance”. Given Alex Berenson’s unceremonious exit from Twitter yesterday, I figured I’d write a full post about why I’m moving some content to Substack. 

The column will be set apart from my Twitter and podcast in that it’ll focus more on personal investment decisions I’ve made and it’ll also include a slightly more detailed, nuanced and researched take on macro - all subject to change depending on how many swigs of brandy I’ve had on any given day and/or my particular penchant for dick and fart jokes at the time.

The Importance Of Substack (No, They Didn’t Pay Me To Say This)

As a precursor to the column, however, I want to take a moment and note why I chose Substack as a platform to publish on. Sure, it’s nice that the platform offers a built in subscription model, but my decision was really based on more than that and it reaches out into a broader discussion about the state of the media, censorship and empowering content creators.

This morning’s post comes just hours after yet another commentator - Alex Berenson - saw his Twitter account permanently suspended after posting facts that were inconvenient to the mainstream Covid narrative. Berenson has been embraced by Substack, who I think has a unique opportunity for content creators (like myself) that feel like my days on social media are unfortunately, eventually numbered.

I was first exposed to Substack when I watched people like Bari Weiss and Glen Greenwald, whose perspectives I enjoy, port their works over to the site. I first thought the site was simply another blog site; I didn’t even know one could create a subscription model.

I noticed immediately that I loved the aesthetics of the site. I know this may sound petty, but anyone who remembers my old “Quoth the Raven Research” site knows that it was mostly just black and white, minimalistic looking, with no ads and a clean feel. When I am reading pieces on the web and/or browsing a website, this is the feel that I seek out. I am far more interested in the content, presented cleanly and clearly, than what is happening around it. The site is also easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of source code editing. Tweets embed themselves and images resize themselves easily.

But the most important reason I chose Substack is because of why writers like Berenson, Weiss, Greenwald and Taibbi were defecting to the site. Sure, Substack was likely offering them contracts and advances (I was offered this option, and declined), but more importantly it was letting these authors say what they wanted to say.

And that, for me is the most important thing.

When I tweet or do the podcast, I constantly have to be mindful of what I am saying and whether or not it will trip some algorithm and, without warning, sever off one of my key sources of income. With Substack, I know that my writing isn’t going to be censored, and I can say what I want. I rest easy knowing that and my readers and subscribers should, too.

Finally, when I saw the NY Times criticize the platform earlier this summer, I knew I was on the right path to finding my home as a writer. Perhaps you recall when the NY Times published a July 2021 op-ed called "Is the Rise of the Substack Economy Bad for Democracy?"

Staff editor Spencer Bokat-Lindell wrote critically, "The concept of niche, subscription-based news and commentary isn’t exactly novel," penning his thoughts in a commentary section of a subscription-based publication himself.

The Free Market Will Solve The Censorship Problem

Censorship - no matter how it is sold to us as being for our own good - is anti-American. It’s the reason that the right to free speech is literally the first Amendment.

Ergo, let me clue you in on something. The answer as to whether or not Substack is bad for Democracy is a resounding "fuck no".

What is bad for Democracy, however, is the constantly tightening muzzle that content creators and bloggers find themselves having to deal with. It stifles free thought, which is necessary for open discussion, which is the key to whittling away to best practices as a country, and as human beings.

The free market understood this to be an issue, and Substack was born out of it. That’s the beauty of capitalism: solving problems and meeting unmet needs and services, using our country’s constitution and laws as a foundation.

I wouldn't expect the NY Times to agree with that sentiment for the same reason I wasn’t surprised to see Bloomberg take jabs at Zero Hedge, no matter how petulant: because they're not only competitors, but in this author’s opinion, pushing an agenda that stands firmly behind the growing censorship of the last decade, instead of against it.

All of that is going to change, yet again. The market is pushing back. Not unlike the way that cable companies had to scramble to readjust their business models in the face of an onslaught of cable cutters (thanks to the internet), more choice for the customers (being able to stream individual networks) and an empowering of content creators (podcasts, YouTube channels), the conventional print media is now going to have to do the same.

I’m happy to be on the front lines of the change. You can subscribe to my newsletter here

For full disclosure, I was offered a contract from Substack and declined. They did not pay me or encourage me in anyway to write this piece, I had prepared parts of it before I even started writing on the platform.