Tech News Site Platformer Quits Substack Over Pro-Nazi Content

The move comes amid a widespread uproar among contributors over Substack’s moderation policies

Substack Platformer
Substack/Platformer

The influential tech news blog Platformer is leaving Substack, a move founder Casey Newton said is due to the company’s resistance to meaningfully moderate pro-Nazi speech.

Newton, who launched Platformer on Substack in 2020, said the tech news outlet will move to Ghost, an open source publisher similar to the for-profit Substack, a transition expected to finish by Tuesday.

In a lengthy statement included in Platformer’s Thursday newsletter, Newton touted the way publishing on Substack helped him grow Platformer since it launched in 2020 from 24,000 free subscribers to more than 170,000.

But, he said, “if Substack can grow a publication like ours that quickly, it can grow other kinds of publications, too.”

“Until Substack makes it clear that it will take proactive steps to remove hate speech and extremism, the current size of the problem isn’t relevant. The company’s edgelord branding ensures that the fringes will continue to arrive and set up shop, and its infrastructure creates the possibility that those publications will grow quickly. That’s what matters,” Newton said.

The announcement came one day after the company banned five pro-Nazi accounts, an attempt to mitigate growing uproar among contributors sparked by a November article in The Atlantic that revealed Substack hosts — and profits — from numerous accounts promoting pro-Nazi and other openly white supremacist ideologies.

A group of contributors billing themselves as Substackers Against Nazis published an open letter in December calling on the company to do more about the problem and to explain why it hadn’t so far.

Substack cofounder Hamish McKenzie responded on Dec. 21 with a letter explaining why the company is reluctant to go after such content.

“We don’t like Nazis either — we wish no one held those views. But some people do hold those and other extreme views,” McKenzie wrote. “Given that, we don’t think that censorship (including through demonetizing publications) makes the problem go away — in fact, it makes it worse.”

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