Substack founder disputes new platform is a Twitter clone to compete with Elon Musk

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Substack is refuting claims that its new short-form posting service Notes mimics Elon Musk’s Twitter and is meant to compete with the prominent social media platform.

Mr. Musk has branded Notes as a “Twitter clone” and penalized Substack links published on Twitter earlier this month, limiting engagement and labeling Substack content as unsafe. Twitter later lifted such restrictions.

Substack co-founder Chris Best said this week his new Notes platform is not meant to compete with Twitter, despite also describing it as an alternative to Twitter.

“To look at Substack Notes and say, ‘Well, it looks like other products that I’m familiar with’ is like looking at a Tesla and saying, ‘It’s the same as an Aston Martin because they both have a steering wheel,’” Mr. Best told The Verge. “You drive them, they’ve got four wheels. They’re completely different because the thing that powers them, the fuel is completely different.”

Substack’s Notes is intended to give the platform’s writers a place to publish short-form content and recommend posts, images, quotes and links, according to Substack’s co-founders’ announcement earlier this month.

The platform visually resembles Twitter, and Mr. Best acknowledged that people can read Substack writers’ posts for free similar to Twitter.

But the Substack co-founder said his company’s business model is what makes Notes different from social media websites. Mr. Best said Notes will not have ads, and he wants paying readers to fuel the platform, with free users converting into paid subscribers of his platform’s writers.

“My mental model of this is, basically, everybody’s going to either have to turn into TikTok or turn into Substack. We are already Substack,” Mr. Best told The Verge. “In the broad sense, that creates an alternative to the attention economy. Substack, as a whole, is an alternative to Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and TikTok and over time, we think this alternative model will grow.”

Twitter and Mr. Musk are not poised to cede the short-form publishing space to Substack.

After deploying temporary restrictions on Substack, Twitter is now rolling out new features that will allow its users to publish longer content similar to what appears on Substack already.

“Starting today, Twitter now supports Tweets up to 10,000 characters in length, with bold and italic text formatting,” Twitter announced Thursday night on its platform via its @TwitterWrite account. “Sign up for Twitter Blue to access these new features, and apply to enable Subscriptions on your account to earn income directly on Twitter.”

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