Libs of TikTok is the latest controversial figure to join the substack

  • TikTok’s Libs Twitter account was featured in a Washington Post article this week.
  • The account then announced that it would offer paid subscriptions on Substack.
  • He’s the latest controversial figure to join the platform, which has lax moderation policies.

Libs of TikTok, the influential Twitter account profiled this week in The Washington Post, announced on Tuesday that it will soon be posting through newsletter platform Substack.

As detailed in the Post’s report, authored by columnist Taylor Lorenz, the account has amassed a sizable following on Twitter for reposting TikTok videos and other social media posts, mostly from LGBTQ+ creators, artists, and social media outlets. a way that has outraged conservatives.

The account has caught the attention of high-profile right-wing publications and influencers, such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who amplified his videos and cemented his prominence in current conservative discourse, including the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ messaging and legislation across the United States.

Libs of TikTok’s planned pivot to Substack is the latest example of a controversial voice seeking refuge on the platform, which has so far opted for less moderation than others

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“The very point that Libs of TikTok seeks to shift to Substack is an indictment of Substack itself,” Imran Ahmed, founder and CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, told Insider.

Libs Of TikTok has become the center of an online culture war

Libs of TikTok is the product of Chaya Raichik, a former Brooklyn realtor who, under a different username, posted about his participation in the January 6, 2021 pro-Trump riot at the United States Capitol, reported the Post.

Raichik created Libs of TikTok in April 2021, according to the Post, and he permeated mainstream media a few months later after Joe Rogan mentioned him on his hugely popular podcast in August.

The account has taken a strong stance against the LGBTQ+ community, even calling for LGBTQ+ educators to be fired “on the spot.” In November last year, he called the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that works to prevent suicide among LGBTQ+ youth, “grooming organization.”

According to the Post, at least one person whose video was featured on Libs Of TikTok received death threats and other attacks after the account posted their video.

TikTok Libraries did not return Insider’s request for comment on Friday.

The Washington Post report sparked outrage from the right, with conservative pundits decrying it for revealing the identity of the woman running the account, arguing the report unfairly “doxxed” the creator behind the account. These allegations largely ignored the popularity and influence of the account – Libs of TikTok already had more than 600,000 followers by the time the Post published its report, and Raichik had appeared anonymously on Fox News and other right-wing outlets to talk about the account.

On the same day as the Post Tuesday report, Libs Of TikTok announced an upcoming substack with paid subscriptions as the account rapidly gained new Twitter followers.

“A lot of people have asked how they can support me,” the account tweeted after the article was posted. “I’ve started a substack and will be posting exclusive content there for subscribers. It’s the best way to lend my support and stay connected if I get banned from social media.”

As the Post noted in its report this week, the account has already been temporarily suspended from Twitter twice for violating the Twitter Rules, and its account on TikTok has been permanently banned for violating the Twitter Community Guidelines. ‘business.

Substack’s Growing Misinformation Problem

Libs Of TikTok is one of many accounts that migrated to Substack after gaining a large following by posting content that violates or comes close to violating other platforms’ content moderation policies. Anti-hate groups and writers have criticized Substack, which has relatively lax policies on what’s allowed on the platform, for profiting from harmful content.

According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, Substack generated at least $2.5 million in a single year from five influencers in the anti-vaccine movement, including Alex Bernson, who was banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. According to the report, 90% of revenue goes to newsletter authors, while 10% goes to Substack.

According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, some of the top political category articles on Substack included misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, including one author who claimed that “vaccines kill far more people than they could. save from COVID”.

Substack has become the platform of choice for “hate actors,” said Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, because the company and its executives do not follow the rules and guidelines it establishes to ensure platform security.

Those rules, outlined in a Nov. 21, 2021 posting on its website, prohibit hateful content, which they call “credible threats of physical harm” based on “race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or medical condition.”

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” Ahmed said. “You can’t say you’re going to do the right thing and then do the exact opposite and expect people to praise you for being a moral and good organization,” he added.

Substack defended its content moderation policies in a statement to Insider.

“We don’t believe in censoring writers on the platform as long as they don’t violate our terms, including content that may be offensive or misleading, or where we personally disagree with the views expressed,” he said. said a Substack spokesperson.

In the past, business leaders have also doubled down on their seemingly unfettered commitment to allowing “freedom of speech,” the principle that appears to drive controversial voices to its platform.

“We believe that when you use censorship to silence certain voices or push them to another place, you are not making the misinformation problem go away, but you are making the mistrust problem worse,” the Substack CEO wrote, Chris Best, and fellow platform co-founders Hamish. McKenzie and Jairaj Sethi in a joint blog post in January.

Several writers who joined Substack, including those who made lucrative deals luring them there, ultimately chose to leave, citing its willingness to allow certain types of content they considered harmful.

Literary researcher Grace Lavery quit the platform in January, also leaving behind a six-figure deal with the company, writing that she no longer had “any confidence that Substack’s management team” would enforce its own terms of use related to harassment of trans people.

In June 2021, author Jude Doyle left the platform for Substack rival Ghost, writing in an article that they felt “Substack condones and funds extreme trans-eliminationist rhetoric.”

And poet Yanyi announced he was leaving Substack last year on Trans Visibility Day, writing that he decided to quit the platform after deciding that “Substack enabled and protected a writer like Graham Linehan to stand on their platform behind a claim to preserve journalistic ethics.”

Linehan, a British writer, was permanently suspended in 2020 by Twitter for repeated violations of the hate behavior policy, The Guardian reported.

So far, the Libs of TikTok substack has no content, except for an “about” section containing short testimonials in “praise” of the account from figures such as Rogan, the conservative podcaster Matt Walsh and right-wing radio host Dan Bongino.

An annual subscription costs users $50 and a monthly subscription costs $5. For a $500 fee, fans can become “founding members”, for which Libs of TikTok promises the added benefit of “eternal recognition”.

It’s unclear what kind of content Libs of TikTok will post via the newsletter, and in the meantime, the account is still active on Twitter.

“I will never be silenced!” Libs of TikTok tweeted on Tuesday, sending the message to its hundreds of thousands of followers.

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