Chairman Musk imposes Great Firewall upon Substack

Taking a page out of the CCP playbook.

When he became the owner of Twitter, Elon Musk pledged to rigorously “adhere to free speech principles.” That pledge is unraveling at lightning speed, and the new boss lighting his newfound $44 billion dollar property on fire in the process.

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Over the last couple days, Elon Musk, who came to Twitter promising to be guided by the principle of free speech, has imposed a Great Firewall upon Substack. He has blocked any interactions with any and all Substack posts, and has censored Substack’s account and mentions of Substack on Twitter. He also added a warning label to Substack links.

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Twitter has not released a statement on the matter. In a recent reply to Bret Weinstein, Musk claimed the following:

Twitter avatar for @elonmusk

Elon Musk @elonmusk
@BretWeinstein 1. Substack links were never blocked. Matt’s statement is false. 2. Substack was trying to download a massive portion of the Twitter database to bootstrap their Twitter clone, so their IP address is obviously untrusted. 3. Turns out Matt is/was an employee of Substack.

Substack founder Chris Best replied with the following:

Without sufficient evidence to adjudicate this disagreement, we have no idea who is right and who is wrong here. Nonetheless, it remains clear that Elon Musk is willing to shatter his Potemkin “free speech” principles to resolve disputes. The world can now witness the incredible hypocrisy of a man who claims to care about free speech and open conversation.

As someone who once loved using Twitter, and has grown a large audience there over the course of over a decade, it’s both sad and infuriating to see a man worth $200 billion attempting to curb stomp a network of independent journalists with the anti-competitive actions that he’s imposing upon us. Most Substackers make a few extra bucks a month, and the world’s richest man is purposely making it more difficult for them to afford groceries money.

Notably, Elon Musk has close business ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as Tesla relies on China to churn out most of its cars. This has created an uncomfortable geopolitical situation in which Musk has been entirely unwilling to even remotely criticize the CCP, because he knows that China has the power to ruin him. Unfortunately, with the imposition of his own Great Firewall on Twitter, Musk seems to be borrowing this foreign, anti-speech tactic from the ruling party in Beijing.

This will spell long term reputational disaster for Twitter, which is reportedly working on its own long form publishing product. Users now know that its owner may continue to impose petty censorship practices upon individuals and groups he disagrees with. Substack, meanwhile, has never departed from its free speech principles. I would never in a million years commit to a long form writing application on Twitter, knowing that its new leadership has a poor record on defending free, open speech on the internet.

The Dossier gets most of its traffic from Twitter. Nonetheless, we remain incredibly optimistic about our growth regardless of what they do over there. We are fast approaching 50,000 free subscribers. It’s an honor that so many of you have decided to follow our work, especially the paid subscribers that are giving back value for the value they feel they’ve received.

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