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Platformer Leaves Substack for Ghost

Hate speech and Nazis

Platformer is a popular tech newsletter founded by Casey Newton in 2020. Originally, Platformer was going to use WordPress but decided on Substack.

Platformer grew a lot on Substack, reaching over 170,000 subscribers in 3 years. Substack was controversial though because it had a hands-off approach to content moderation.

Now it’s leaving Substack.

Substack Starts Promoting Its Own Network

In 2022, Substack started trying to promote its own network of newsletters. It added tools to let writers recommend other Substack writers. It also launched a Twitter-like social network called Notes.

Platformer grew a lot because of this. It got over 70,000 new free subscribers in 2023 from Substack’s tools.

Concerns Over Hate Speech on Substack

In November 2023, The Atlantic published an article about Nazis using Substack. Casey assumed Substack would enforce its policy against inciting violence.

But in December, Substack said it didn’t want to intervene much beyond threats of violence.

This concerned Casey about Substack’s stance on hate speech.

Casey investigated and found 7 newsletters promoting Nazi hate speech and violence.

Substack only removed 5 of them. Substack also downplayed it by saying the newsletters had low subscribers and revenue.

Platformer Moves to Ghost

Because of Substack’s lack of action on hate speech, Casey decided Platformer needed a new home. He consulted his readers and they supported moving.

So Casey announced Platformer is moving to Ghost. Ghost is open source software for building websites, newsletters, membership sites, etc.

It’s a close competitor to WordPress but more sleek and simpler in design and functionality.

Ghost bans violent, threatening, or hateful content in its terms of service. Ghost’s CEO committed to removing pro-Nazi content.

Ghost also has no plans for a social network like Substack’s.

Why Writers May Want Alternatives to Substack

Substack makes it easy to start a newsletter but has controversial (or very little) content moderation.

Alternatives like Ghost offer more control and stricter content policies.

Writers may want platforms that don’t promote controversial content alongside their own writing.

They may also want more options to build full sites and membership programs, not just newsletters.

That all being said, Substack is not entirely to blame here, of course. It’s the people spreading hate speech and nazi ideology that are the real threat.

And those will be found on any platform. Hidden or right before our eyes.

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