Twitter has begun marking links to Substack as unsafe. If you click on a link on Twitter with substack.com in the URL, Twitter will display a separate notification warning you that “the link you are trying to open has been identified by Twitter or our partners as potentially spammy or unsafe.”
Don’t be alarmed: the links we’ve checked appear to be perfectly safe. This notification instead appears to be Twitter’s latest hostile move against Substack after the email newsletter platform announced its own Twitter-esque “Notes” feature on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Twitter blocked people using Substack to embed tweets in their stories. Then, late Thursday or early Friday, Twitter started blocking engagement on tweets with links to Substack; users couldn’t like or retweet them, but could be quote she retweets. Then, on Friday morning, Twitter applied the same restrictions to tweets from the official Substack account.
While those moves are clearly unfriendly, I’d classify the unsafe warning as downright aggressive. Twitter’s URL policy hasn’t changed since 2020, according to the last updated comment on the page, and Substack’s site appears to be working as always, so it’s hard to tell what justification Twitter is using for the warning. CEO Elon Musk hasn’t tweeted about Substack lately and, when reached for comment, Twitter’s press email automatically replied with a poop emoji, which it’s been doing since mid-March.
The elephant in the room is Substack’s Notes feature, which adds very Twitter-like elements to the newsletter platform. Matt Taibbi, a journalist with a history of reporting stories for Musk, said Friday that he was told by an unspecified party that “Twitter is angry about the new Substack Notes feature, which they view as a hostile rival.” He also notes that he was “given the option to post my articles to Twitter instead of Substack.”
In December, Musk said he considered “relentless advertising to competitors” a policy violation and blocked the sharing of links to Instagram, Mastodon, Facebook and others. However, those restrictions were later lifted. It’s possible he’s decided to bring it back now that he feels like Substack is trying to compete with Twitter, though it’s worth noting that, at least for now, you’ll still be able to get a Substack link can tweet. Anyone trying to follow it just needs to click through the warning to get to the content.
Substack did not immediately respond The edge‘s request for comment on the warning. However, the founders have recently spoken out about how Twitter is handling their platform.