Substack says it will not remove or demonetize Nazi content

More than 200 Substack authors asked the platform to explain why it’s “platforming and monetizing Nazis,” and now they have an answer straight from co-founder Hamish McKenzie:

I just want to make it clear that we don’t like Nazis either—we wish no-one held those views. But some people do hold those and other extreme views. Given that, we don’t think that censorship (including through demonetizing publications) makes the problem go away—in fact, it makes it worse.

While McKenzie offers no evidence to back these ideas, this tracks with the company’s previous stance on taking a hands-off approach to moderation. In April, Substack CEO Chris Best appeared on the Decoder podcast and refused to answer moderation questions. “We’re not going to get into specific ‘would you or won’t you’ content moderation questions” over the issue of overt racism being published on the platform, Best said. McKenzie followed up later with a similar statement to the one today, saying “we don’t like or condone bigotry in any form.”

fubo, (edited )

To be clear — what McKenzie is saying here is that Substack will continue to pay Nazis to write Nazi essays. Not just that they will host Nazi essays (at Substack’s cost), but they will pay for them.

They are, in effect, hiring Nazis to compose Nazi essays.

mo_ztt, avatar

Not exactly. Substack subscribers pay subscription fees, the content author keeps roughly 80% of the fees, and the rest goes to Substack or to offset hosting costs. The Nazi subscribers are paying the Nazi publishers, and money is flowing from the Nazi subscribers to Substack because of that operation (not away from Substack as it would be if they hired Nazis).


This ignores that the platform is needed for that income to be possible. But truly you’re just being pedantic

mo_ztt, (edited ) avatar

How is it pedantic to point out that “will pay for them” means “will get paid by them”?

There’s a perfectly good argument to be made that Substack shouldn’t host Nazis even if they’re making money off them. But that wasn’t (edit: your the) message; your the message was, they’re hiring Nazis. It’s relevant whether they’re materially supporting the Nazis, or being materially supported by a cut of their revenue.


It wasn’t my message, but it certainly made sense to me and still does. whereas your message makes sense but in a totally different way. It’s basically “nuh-uh”

mo_ztt, avatar

Hm. Fair enough. The core complaint I have with banning Nazis from being able to speak, has nothing to do with which way the money is flowing. And I fixed “your” to be “the”; I just hadn’t noticed you weren’t the person I was talking with before.

FlyingSquid, avatar

That’s splitting hairs. Salespeople who work on commission are keeping an amount of what they make for the company, but I doubt many people would claim they aren’t being paid to sell a product.

be_excellent_to_each_other avatar

They are being paid by subscribers, not by substack. I am not on substack's side here, but that detail seems quite relevant if we're interested in painting an accurate picture of what's going on.

If they were putting Nazi content on substack and no individuals were subscribing to read it, they would be earning 0.

Substack is profiting from those same subscribers, no doubt.

FlyingSquid, avatar

They are being paid by subscribers, not by substack.

Again- If you sold widgets door-to-door for a 20% commission, would you say you were being paid by the people who buy the widgets? I doubt many would.

be_excellent_to_each_other avatar

In that case I'd be selling something made by the entity giving me commission - what people want and pay for is something made by someone other than me. In this case the people creating the content are the same people drawing the subscribers, so it's more accurate to say substack takes a cut of their subscription income than to say substack pays them.

If I stop selling widgets the company still has the exact same widgets and can get anyone else to sell them. If a renowned nazi writer (bleh) takes their content to another platform, substack no longer has that content (or the author's presence on their platform) to profit from.

FlyingSquid, avatar

what people want and pay for is something made by someone other than me.

Sort of like Substack’s servers then?

be_excellent_to_each_other avatar

You think the platform is the widget, I think the content is the widget. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

FlyingSquid, avatar

Your words:

what people want and pay for is something made by someone other than me.

They’re paying for the convenience of using Substack’s servers. The Nazi could be spreading their bigotry through direct email, for example, but that is not a profit-generating enterprise. Substack, however, is a profit-generating enterprise. Notice that they said they aren’t even willing to demonetize Nazi accounts. They are happy to make a profit from Nazi content. And for some reason, you think that is defensible.


TIL that Substack is apparently a bunch of crypto-fascists who expect people to believe they don't support Nazis, they just give them money and a place at their table to talk about it.


I just want to make it clear that we don’t like Nazis either

Actions speak louder than words. Fuck Substack and fuck any platform that offers a safe haven for nazis.


“I want you to know that I don’t like nazis. But I am fine platforming them and profiting from them. Now here is some bullshit about silencing ‘ideas.’”


“I don’t like Nazis… but you have to understand, they’re very profitable.”

callmepk, avatar

This tracks with my previous attempts at reporting that Sinfest guy. Posts hundreds of comics that blatantly break multiple official substack content guidelines and I get the effective equivalent of a promise for “action” combined with a dismissive eye roll. They completely ignored my follow-up email detailing the complete lack of action and the dozen or so new content guideline violations.


Nazis gotta work too

UsedAndDenied, avatar

Techbros tolerate Nazis.

You can run your own blog with WordPress. It even Federates.


Facebook just shrugs off the rampant white supremacist content on its platform with great success, you can literally put up a profile photo with an “It’s OK to be white” frame, or “white power” supplied by Facebook. I guess Substack thinks that if it works for Facebook it should be fine for them.

Incidentally Reddit banned me for posting pictures of Nazis on r/beholdthemasterrace, a subreddit for mocking white supremacy, when some Nazis went and complained to Reddit admins I was doing it. Reddit also sides with Nazis, they’re just quieter about it.


Is there some specific background to “it’s okay to be white”? Without any context it does not sound obviously " white supremacist related to me, but it could be cultural, language or other.


It’s a Nazi talking point, one of their tropes is that white people are being eradicated everywhere because of multiculturalism and diversity, and that people are being taught it’s not ok to just be white. The slogan originated from 4chan trolling but Nazis have absolutely adopted it.'s_okay_to_be_white


You probably got banned by reddit because other subreddits will nail you with bots for just posting to certain subs regardless of the context.


No, I saw one of the Nazis I posted talking on Facebook about how he had reported me to Reddit admins. Well then don’t have a swastika face tattoo.

Octopus1348, avatar

White powder 🌨️


Money is the only vote that matters. Avoid the Nazi bar. Don’t give them ad revenue or search engine relevance (for what that’s worth anymore).


Now I’m curious if anybody adds something about LGBTQ on there, if that’s promptly removed.


Nazism doesn’t deserve tolerance, any person who doesn’t punch it in the face is equal or worse.


What about my friend No-Arms Norman? All he can do is kick a Nazi in the ass!


Not true! Norman can also kick the teeth out of those fucking nazi mouths!

NickwithaC, (edited ) avatar

But can he kick a nazi so hard in the balls he tore a tendon in his foot?

KairuByte, avatar

I’d suggest against it, how would he function with only one usable extremity?


Fists aren’t a cure to intolerance. Probably doesn’t hurt so knock yourself a nazi out. As long as force isn’t being used to prevent open discussion and debate, it would be most unwise to drive dangerous ideologies underground where they can’t be monitored and understood.


You should read the tolerance paradox, to understand why you shouldn’t be tolerant to intolerant people.

Why would someone would know myself? you idiot? I am not nazy or plan to tolerate them.

Those ideologies should be put in the mud where they belong, it is good to read history to understand why they are bad, and only stupid untolerant and racists edgelords are the ones that think that being nazi is cool.

Lol, you think you can monitor and understand those? lol. Just look how dangerous racist idiots are, for example the maga, who tried to overturn the election, in an attempt to inssurection, all of those idiots are traitors, and if they want to say that it is not that bad, then they are also as stupid as those inssurectionits.


I like the idea that tolerance is a social contract.

You’re only covered by it when you practice it.

You break the contract by being intolerant, nobody is obligated to be tolerant to you anymore.


That is the paradox of tolerance. And describes how you need to stop being tolerant to groups like the nazis.


Agreed. Unfortunate that many times this is met with some smug shit about “wanting echo chambers”

Not wanting a feed full of modern phrenology and a 20 page analysis about how this weeks 13 year old black kid getting murdered by the cops for looking at them wrong is “totally fine and actually should happen more” does NOT mean I “want echo chambers”


Tolerating Naziism and allowing it to use social tools to spread its hate is what makes it worse.


Teach critical thinking skills as a pillar of the school curriculum and the population will be immunized preventing the spread.


And teach the value of everyone being equal and their human rights, in school and at home, where it matters (both).


No, it does not “make it worse”.

In fact, stamping out dissent and controlling people is incredibly effective. Ask any dictator.

Control is effective and necessary when it comes to people actively trying to damage society. No, I’m not supporting dictatorship or authoritarianism, just pointing out that control is effective.

Being a sect of destructive assholes doesn’t mean you should get a platform.

samus12345, avatar

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

― Elie Wiesel


Tell me you are a fascist WO telling me you are a fascist… 🤣🤣…


Mckenzie needs to read that Reddit story about the bartender who kicked out a guy with the Third Reich eagle ensign on his shirt despite him quietly minding his own business. I really don’t want Substack to “suddenly become a Nazi bar.” I’m just a reader, but if I ever start a newsletter I may reconsider my platform. I am on a basic free plan for all Substack channels I read. I’ve thought about upgrading my subscription to some, but now I will hesitate.


Link to story?


noticed that the story is now being summarized in dictionaries, haha


I’m guessing this story makes it “too late.” If I were a Nazi (I’m not) , I’d instantly flock to any sight that welcomed me.

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