When Substack launched what Musk interpreted as a Twitter competitor, the billionaire tried to force journalist Matt Taibbi to leave the publishing platform behind in favour of Twitter. When Taibbi declined, Musk declared The Twitter Files to be done and dusted.
As I’m currently failing to catch up to my goal of releasing an episode for every week of the podcast’s existence, I am nonetheless trying to get an episode out, whenever I can. Since my schedule is still all over the place, I can’t do any live streams of the show recordings at the moment. I will get back to those as soon as I can.
Today, we interrupt my carefully laid plans of topics to be covered on the show to talk about something surprising that happened very recently: Elon Musk killing the Twitter Files reporting he single-handedly launched in the first place.
Musk Cuts Taibbi & Colleagues Loose Because of Substack Notes
So what exactly happened?
When Substack launched a new social networking feature called Notes, Elon Musk decided it was direct competition to Twitter and prevented people from posting substack.com links on Twitter.
When Matt Taibbi asked him how he and his colleagues was supposed to report on the Twitter Files under these circumstances, Musk decided they should move their reporting to Twitter. Taibbi, understandably, declined.
And with that, the Twitter Files died. Musk actually went on to (temporarily) delete Taibbi’s reporting from Twitter, which sealed the deal.
So no one who’s interested in continued releases of #TwitterFiles reports doubts it, I would have crawled across broken glass, eaten maggots by the bucket, anything — you can choose your own self-abasing image — to be able to keep doing Files searches. No offense to Substack, but the idea that I would walk away from a story like that to be involved in some peripheral way with building a new social media startup is, to put it gently, bonkers.
As for Twitter Files reports, Elon apparently announced in a Spaces that these are “done, there’s not much left really… we need to move on.” That may be true as far as he’s concerned, but we still have a lot of material, and more reports are coming. Holding up my end of the deal, these will appear on Twitter first. They just won’t be on my account, since I wouldn’t wipe my ass with Twitter after the events of last week.
It’s not personal. I just can’t drive traffic for any site that’s censored me. These companies depend on our content to make money, and for years we’ve been rewarding all their dicking around with engagement and reality by handing them more eyeballs to sell. Frankly if all accounts walked away in these situations, the platforms would have to cut this nonsense out pretty quickly.
After restoring the ability to post Substack links, Twitter is now visibility filtering them, by the way. Which, considering why and how the Twitter Files came about, is the height of irony.
I can understand Taibbi’s decision. But it is very unfortunate for the public at large that this reporting will now wind down. It was a huge public service and these stories were, in my opinion, the most important reporting done in the IT space since the Snowden revelations.
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Thank you for this episode. I share your concerns about the quality of journalism these days, but I think this is is an old problem. I recently read a book about the French Revolution, and also back then, it seems that the newspapers often wrote what people wanted to read, or even what they wanted their readers to believe. I guess the only thing we can do, is hoping that there are will always be “enough” critical thinkers around. Since after all those years, there are still people left that are willing to think for themselves, I keep on believing.
In fact I read two books about the French Revolution, by the Belgian writer Johan Op de Beeck. They’re a really good read for those that can understand Dutch.
I’m writing this almost one week after listening to the episode, so my bad memory will not help me much with the context, but here goes! I would like to start with something you said at the start of the episode. You used the expression “Vaccines are good and they work”. I think I understand what you want to say, but I would like to highlight a point: This is a blank statement about “all vaccines”, which, from my point of view, brings us to some not-so-good territory. There are hundreds of vaccines, each one of them has been studied in different ways.
Only based on that data collection, that someone can say, and forgive the tautology: that any particular vaccine is good and effective to the degree that it was tested/measured to be, and on average! The human body is a complex system, and the way vaccines work needs a lot of studies to be understood (and sometimes not completely). Any medication should be proven, and it will always have usage information and attached warnings and side effects. Sorry for the nit-picking!
Now switching to another topic: before listening to the episode, I had a topic that I wanted to share, but you raised it in the latter part of the episode. The topic came to mind while listening to a Sam Harris podcast: he chose to start his episode by warning against the statement: “do your own research”. In summary, he wanted to remind of the importance of experts, and to warn of the dangers of hobbyist science.
In the latter part of the episode, you raised the same topic, and how different actors are trying to monopolize the truth, and we come to what I usually term: truth by decree. Of course, none of us can be an expert in everything, so we have to delegate finding truth finding to others that we trust. But we should always be wary of this choice, and from time to time, to try to revisit this decision.
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