Let's Start Solving Society's Trust Problem By Solving Substack's Trust Problem
Thoughts on "On Substack" and Trust
The latest “On Substack” from Hamish McKenzie, Chris Best, and Jairaj has a lot of things in it that are hard to disagree with. Trust is an issue. And there are many good reasons why trust is at a low point in most areas of our society, mainly because so many of our people and institutions have shown themselves to be completely untrustworthy.
But if you’re going to claim that you want to be part of the solution, it’s good to walk the walk. So I was struck by this bit:
This position has some uncomfortable consequences. It means we allow writers to publish what they want and readers to decide for themselves what to read, even when that content is wrong or offensive, and even when it means putting up with the presence of writers with whom we strongly disagree.
Because, let’s not dodge this here. Substack’s leadership says it tolerates writing on it the platform even though they “strongly disagree” with some of that writing. But who are these writers? What newsletters, exactly, do Hamish, Chris and Jairaj specifically find repellant, and why?
Free speech crusaders often hide behind this notion that “yes there are some bad things over there” (waves vaguely at a pile of newsletters) “but it’s the price we pay for free expression, you know?”
Trust requires specificity. Trust requires taking a stand. If, for instance, half of Substack’s top 10 revenue-producing newsletters producing content that Substack’s leaders found objectionable, that would be a useful thing to know. That’s how trust gets built.