Content moderation has been a thorny topic in 2020. And when I say “thorny”, I mean many Congressional hearings are taking place on this subject. Twitter and Facebook in particular have allayed concerns about the subject, fielding complaints that they are not good enough for both problematic content and suggestions that they be a censorship-happy, shadow-ban of the First Amendment There are enemies.
The latter appears to be the sole reason for the existence of the right-wing-focused Twitter contestant, Parler.
As Substack Increasing in popularity, the newspaper platform is going to face some tremendously difficult questions around content moderation. today It published a long blog post Some of those concerns are expected to be nosedived. The write-up offers some caveats, but largely focuses on the platform’s commitment to free speech:
In most cases, we do not think that censoring content is helpful, and in fact it often backfires. Massive censorship can attract more attention than content otherwise enjoyed, and at the same time it can give content creators a martyr complex they can trade for future gains. We like a competition of ideas. We believe that discontent and debate are important. We celebrate non-equality.
The stance reflects Subtake’s commitment to the Substack-based model, rather than ads currently illuminating for services such as Twitter and Facebook. Instead, it cuts authors’ membership revenue by 10%. Which of course exempts it from sponsorship boycott to some extent. The subscription model also means that users have to opt for more specific content than platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, where content limitations are more fluid.
“We are happy to compete with ‘Substack but with more control over speech’ just as we are happy to compete with ‘Substack but advertising,” the company writes.
Of course, there are financial considerations – there always are. Subtack has a vested interest in supporting right-wing and conservative voices who have downplayed the practices of Facebook and Twitter. In particular, The Dispatch Service’s politics topped the leaderboard. In an interview with TechCrunch earlier this year, editor Stephen Hayes called the service “unimpeachablely center-right”, while its current blurb refers to it as “conservative”.
“Neither of these ideas is neutral,” Subtack writes. “Many Silicon Valley technology companies strive to make their platforms apolitical, but we feel that such a goal is impossible to achieve.” There is no truth in it. Any situation on content moderation can be viewed to some extent from a political one. And equally, no one will make everyone – or even most people – completely happy.
But it is easy to see the service facing some major tests of its current hands-on approach as the service continues to grow in popularity. The service approach involves placing your name in front of consumers, meaning that it will not be seen as a kind of invisible publishing platform.
The subtack is quick to add that, naturally, there is content that crosses the line despite this. “Of course, there are limitations,” it writes. “We do not allow porn on substacks, for example, or spam. We do not allow docking or harassment. “