In the last few weeks, Twitter has restricted Substack writers’ ability to share their work by hiding Substack previews and limiting the distribution of Substack links. It has also cut Substack off from its API – the interface that allows computer programs to communicate with each other.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Substack team expressed disappointment in Twitter: “We are deeply disappointed by Twitter’s actions and have been trying to resolve the issue (unsuccessfully so far) … At the same time, we recognise that – fair or not – this was probably inevitable. Twitter’s actions are part of a well-established history of social media platforms limiting writers’ and creators’ ability to share their work.”
Twitter’s share of Substack traffic has been waning even before its recent actions. At the start of the year, Twitter on average drove less than 3% of all views across Substack. Today, it accounts for less than 2%.
The Substack team do not attribute this latest move by Twitter to censorship but to profits. Ad-based social platforms want users glued to their feeds so they design products to keep them from leaving their platform. By clicking on a link to read a Substack article, the Twitter user is leaving Twitter’s platform.
Twitter’s actions against sharing material posted on Substack are not new. The Substack team used Twitter’s action against Instagram twenty years ago as an example:
“In 2012, Twitter stopped embedding Instagram posts after Facebook acquired the photo-sharing app. Today, Facebook deprioritises links that take people away from its feed. Google prioritises YouTube search results over TikTok and Vimeo.”
Read more: Twitter has restricted interactions with Substack articles