Platform collapse! Nazis on Substack and why content moderation matters at the front lines of digital publishing

Arikia Millikan

As legacy publications hemorrhage revenue, tech platforms like Substack and Medium have swooped in to capture loose journalistic talent. But what happens when Nazis begin publishing on the same platforms as award-winning journalists? A new model of digital publishing is emerging from the exodus!
Stage 8

Creator economy platforms are not agnostic technologies: platforms like Substack, Patreon, and Medium invest millions into luring star contributors to increase their reputation and attract new users. As much as platforms like to insist they don't control user-generated content, their user base reflects the value systems of the platform owners, who collect a % of creators’ profits. So when Substack’s founders refused to remove Nazis and hate speech from the platform, many prominent journalists publicly declared they could no longer ethically use the platform. This prompted an exodus, leaving many independent publishers asking “where do we go now?”

The answer is not as simple as “if you don't like it go somewhere else.” Unplugging from a creator platform can be like asking someone to quit their full-time job, especially when platforms make it difficult for users to transfer subscriber data. Fortunately, creator platforms for journalists are still in their infancy. It's not too late to counter dangerous trends in platform design before serious monopolies form. Understanding how a platform operates before you invest your time and data there will help you make decisions more aligned with your values. The fall of legacy publications poses an exciting opportunity for a new class of journalistic platforms to emerge, and journalists who are impervious to platform collapse!