Twitter is ramping up its hostility toward Substack, the popular email newsletter platform, in what appears to be a response to the company’s latest announcement. On Wednesday, Substack unveiled “Notes,” a Twitter-like feature that allows users to post updates and share them with their subscribers. Shortly thereafter, Twitter began blocking people who use Substack from embedding tweets into their stories, and then moved to block engagement on tweets containing links to Substack. Now, it seems the social media giant is going even further by marking links to Substack as unsafe.
According to a report from The Verge, when users click on a link on Twitter with substack.com in the URL, they will receive a separate notice warning them that “the link you are trying to access has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially spammy or unsafe.” Despite these warnings, The Verge has confirmed that links to Substack are safe to access. It’s not clear what justification Twitter is using for the warning, as its URL policy hasn’t changed since 2020 and Substack’s site appears to be working as it always has.
The Verge suggests that the elephant in the room is Substack’s new Notes feature, which adds Twitter-like elements to the newsletter platform. Journalist Matt Taibbi, who has a history of reporting stories for Elon Musk, claims to have been told by an unspecified party that “Twitter is upset about the new Substack Notes feature, which they see as a hostile rival.” He also notes that he was “given the option of posting my articles on Twitter instead of Substack.”
Twitter’s recent actions could be seen as a reaction to Substack’s growing popularity, as well as its potential as a rival to Twitter itself. CEO Elon Musk has previously expressed his distaste for “relentless advertising of competitors” and blocked sharing links to Instagram, Mastodon, Facebook, and others. While those restrictions were later removed, it’s possible that he’s decided to bring them back now that he feels Substack is trying to compete with Twitter. For now, users are still able to tweet Substack links, but they will need to click through a warning to access the content.
Substack has yet to respond to The Verge’s request for comment on the matter, but its founders have been vocal about Twitter’s treatment of the platform. It remains to be seen whether Twitter’s latest move will have any lasting impact on Substack’s popularity or growth.