The right-wing crusade against innocent tech journalist Taylor Lorenz has been relentless. Just absolutely relentless.

And, as Twitchy told you earlier, some people are holding Substack responsible for that, because it’s being used as a platform where right-wing culture warriors and TERFs can network and organize:

Freelance writer Ryan Broderick appears to be particularly concerned about how independent journalist Glenn Greenwald has been using it:

Greenwald is part of a cadre of writers who position themselves as neither left or right-wing, instead focusing on culture war Twitter drama about being “canceled” and trans people in bathrooms and woke college students to make the actually very standard and traditional right-wing status quo that they’re defending sound slightly less tedious. Other writers in this network are people like former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, Jesse Singal, and, I’d argue, Slate Star Codex writer Scott Alexander Siskind, as well. There are more. They are becoming more closely connected to the “dinner party TERFs” in the UK and Ireland. Almost all of them use Substack as their home base.

It’s worth thinking about this group not as a collection of writers, but instead as a online subculture that lives on Substack. They operate like any other increasingly emboldened group of power users and I suspect they will be the first big community moderation issue for Substack as a platform. This morning, in between more tweets about Taylor, Greenwald was literally promoting Substack.

Greenwald was literally promoting a place where readers can read his work. The horror!


Substack released their first real community guidelines in December. At the time, I wrote about them, saying I was skeptical, but I liked the general direction they were going in. One thing that worried me was how simplistic their definition of harassment was. It’s one line in their content guidelines, “In all cases, Substack does not allow harassment or threats.” And in their December announcement, they also said they don’t allowing doxxing. I read through Greenwald’s original Substack piece on Taylor (it wasn’t easy lol). And it was a vicious screed, but he doesn’t doxx her. But online harassment is a constantly evolving process of boundary testing. Campaigns become better and more organized and every community guideline that can be stress-tested will be. Right now most of the abuse being carried out by this group is confined to Twitter, but it stands to reason that it will eventually spill over to Substack. And dealing with people like Greenwald is going to be much harder to moderate than your average troll.

In fact he’s already now trying to change the narrative and claim that he’s actually the victim in all of this. “You don’t know what it’s like when Taylor Lorenz uses her big platform to criticize you. The abuse pours in and never stops,” he tweeted this morning.

Here’s Greenwald’s full tweet, for your consideration:

Show us the lie. We’ve seen what Taylor Lorenz can do to people once she gets them in her crosshairs.

Anyway, Greenwald is naturally covering the anti-Substack campaign today (on Substack, of course):

Note: The “Google exec” Greenwald is referring to is Rob Leathern, who quote-RT’d Techdirt writer Mike Masnick’s tweet about Substack going through a “content moderation crisis”:

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that it may be unfair to characterize Masnick and Leathern’s tweets as supporting Broderick’s contention that Substack needs to crack down on certain journalists. Pointing out that it’s important to set standards for content moderation shouldn’t be construed as support for censorship.


In any event, Greenwald is correct that calls like Ryan Broderick’s for Substack to punish journalists for wrongthink stand in opposition to principles of free speech.