Substack Critics: Nazi Presence Here Is 'Unfathomable'

Open letter from users accuses site of platforming Nazis and white supremacists, profiting from it
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2023 12:28 PM CST
Critics Rip Nazi Presence on Substack Platform
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/golubovy)

Substack, the online publishing portal that hosts subscription-based newsletters, is offering a space for some unseemly characters who are making money not only for themselves, but for Substack itself. That's the assertion of dozens of users who penned an open letter on the subject to the platform's founders, reports the Hill. The letter cites a November piece in the Atlantic by Jonathan Katz entitled "Substack Has a Nazi Problem," which details how "scores" of newsletters on the site managed by Nazis and white supremacists, including "Unite the Right" rally organizer Richard Spencer, can boast tens of thousands of subscribers, and that Substack itself gets a 10% cut of any subscription revenue—meaning Substack "makes money when readers pay for Nazi newsletters."

"From our perspective as Substack publishers, it is unfathomable that someone with a swastika avatar, who writes about 'the Jewish question,' or who promotes [the] Great Replacement Theory, could be given the tools to succeed on your platform," the user letter notes. "And yet you've been unable to adequately explain your position." As for Substack's past remarks on trying to take a "hands-off approach" to the content that makes its way there, the letter writers add, "There's a difference between a hands-off approach and putting your thumb on the scale." The letter concludes with a demand for the founders to address their outlined concerns.

"We, your publishers, want to hear from you on the official Substack newsletter," the participants write. "Is platforming Nazis part of your vision of success? Let us know—from there we can each decide if this is still where we want to be." Their signature: "Substackers Against Nazis." As for Substack, there's no response yet on the letter, but in a statement to Katz, the company notes: "Substack is a platform that is built on freedom of expression, and helping writers publish what they want to write. Some of that writing is going to be objectionable or offensive. Substack has a content moderation policy that protects against extremes—like incitements to violence—but we do not subjectively censor writers outside of those policies." Read the letter in full here, and the Atlantic piece here. (More Substack stories.)

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