Twitter has restored support for Substack embeds on its platform, ending days of tension between the two companies. Twitter cut off the embeds last week following the launch of Substack Notes, a Twitter rival.
This move by Twitter, which came a week after the company changed its API rules, had a significant impact on content creators. Earlier, Substack founders Chris Best, Hamish McKenzie, and Jairaj Seth, expressed their disappointment with the Twitter decision.
“We’re disappointed that Twitter has chosen to restrict writers’ ability to share their work. Writers deserve the freedom to share links to Substack or anywhere else,” they said in a statement, as reported by The Verge.
“This abrupt change is a reminder of why writers deserve a model that puts them in charge, that rewards great work with money, and that protects the free press and free speech. Their livelihoods should not be tied to platforms where they don’t own their relationship with their audience, and where the rules can change on a whim.”
Substack ‘suppression’ ends
Twitter’s decision to cut off Substack embeds was a surprise to many writers who use the platform to share their work. After pasting a link to Substack, a message would appear saying that “Twitter has unexpectedly restricted” the link.
Others noted that when clicking on links that contained substack.com in the URL on Twitter, a separate notice was being displayed by Twitter, cautioning users that the link may be potentially spammy or unsafe.
When attempting to reply to a tweet containing a Substack link, users encountered a distinct error message stating, “Something went wrong, but don’t worry — let’s try again.”
However, the two companies appear to have now reached some form of a deal, with tweets containing Substack content restored.
“We’re glad to see that the suppression of Substack publications on Twitter appears to be over. This is the right move for writers, who deserve the freedom to share their work,” tweeted the Substack team.
“We believe that Twitter and Substack can continue to coexist and complement each other. We look forward to making Substack Notes available soon, but we expect it to be a new kind of place within a subscription network, not a replacement for existing social networks.”
We’re glad to see that the suppression of Substack publications on Twitter appears to be over. This is the right move for writers, who deserve the freedom to share their work.
— Substack (@SubstackInc) April 9, 2023
For Twitter to lift the suspension, observers say the social media company may have arm-twisted Substack into delaying the release of Notes, or completely changing the way the feature works.
“Certainly hope you haven’t delayed Notes to appease him [Elon Musk]. He’s firmly in the category of bully with whom appeasement ultimately fails,” said content creator Richard Tofel.
What is Substack Notes?
Substack is a platform that allows writers to publish their work and build a following. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many writers using it as a way to monetize their content.
On April 5, Substack announced the launch of Notes, a feature that lets users write short posts, which can be shared exclusively with their paid subscribers. Posts are typically used to share updates, thoughts, and insights with subscribers on a more frequent and informal basis than longer-form newsletters.
Comparisons to Twitter, then, are natural: Notes represents a cross between social media posts and newsletter updates. The feature is intended to provide writers with a more flexible and informal way to communicate with subscribers, per a Substack blog post.
However, with the launch of Notes, Substack is now entering the social media space, which puts it in direct competition with Twitter. The blue bird’s decision to withdraw support for Substack embeds is likely a response to this.
By removing Substack embeds, Musk-owned Twitter made it more difficult for Substack writers to promote their work on the platform. Twitter is also switching off popular bots like the Thread Reader App or forcing them to pay potentially high prices to remain on the site.
Twitter boots out bots
The move to switch off bots is part of Twitter’s ongoing efforts to combat spam and misinformation. However, it is having a significant impact on content creators, many of whom rely on bots to promote their work.
Bots are automated accounts that can perform a variety of tasks on Twitter, such as liking and retweeting posts. They are often used by content creators to increase their reach and engagement on the platform.
For a monthly fee of $100, the “basic” tier plan allows your application to post up to 50,000 tweets per month (with a user limit of 3,000 tweets per month) and read up to 10,000 tweets per month.
While a free tier is also available, it only permits users to write tweets and not to read them. This may not be beneficial for a tool such as the Thread Reader bot, which helps to simplify lengthy chains of posts on the site for readers, the Verge reported.
Starting February 9, we will no longer support free access to the Twitter API, both v2 and v1.1. A paid basic tier will be available instead 🧵
— Developers (@XDevelopers) February 2, 2023
Twitter’s crackdown on bots means many content creators are now seeing a significant drop in engagement, a key metric for success on social media.