Elon Musk claimed on Monday that Apple had “threatened” to remove Twitter from its iOS app store, a move that could be devastating for the company Musk just acquired for $44 billion.
“Apple (AAPL) has also threatened to remove Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” Musk said in one of several tweets on Monday targeting Apple (AAPL) and its CEO for alleged actions that could undermine Twitter. Company.
In another tweet, Musk claimed that Apple had all but stopped advertising on Twitter. “Do they hate free speech in America,” he said, in an apparent reference to his oft-stated desire to bolster his idea of free speech on the platform. “What is happening here [Apple CEO Tim Cook]Musk added in a follow-up tweet. He also critical Apple size, claims he indulges in “censorship” and called the 30% transaction fee that Apple charges large app developers to get listed in its app store.
The tweetstorm highlights the tenuous relationship between Musk and Apple, which, along with Google, is the primary guardian of mobile apps. Long before taking over Twitter, the Tesla CEO said that when the automaker was struggling, he considered selling the company to Apple, but Cook refused to meet with him.
Pulling Apple’s App Store, or Google’s, would be detrimental to the business of Twitter, which is already struggling with a loss of advertisers following Musk’s takeover and a difficult initial attempt to expand its subscription business.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s tweets. The company has already shown it’s willing to remove apps from its app store over concerns about their ability to moderate harmful content or if they’re trying to circumvent the cut Apple takes from in-app purchases and subscriptions. .
In January 2021, Apple removed Parler, an app popular with conservatives, including some far-right members, from its app store following the attack on the US Capitol due to concerns about the ability of the platform to detect and moderate hate speech and incitement. Parler was returned to Apple’s App Store three months later after updating its content moderation practices.
In its official App Store review guidelines, Apple lists various security parameters that apps must meet to be included in the store, including the ability to prevent “content that is offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust , of exceptionally bad taste”. , or just plain scary” like hate speech, pornography and terrorism. “If you’re looking to shock and offend people, the App Store is not the place for your app,” the guidelines state.
Various civil society groups, researchers and other industry watchers have raised concerns about Twitter’s ability to effectively moderate harmful content and maintain the platform’s safety following widespread layoffs and departures. masses of company employees. Musk also said he wanted to amplify “freedom of speech” on the platform and began restoring some accounts that were previously banned or suspended for repeatedly breaking Twitter’s rules. Musk himself has shared a conspiracy theory and several other controversial tweets since taking over as owner of Twitter.
Musk, long a prolific and antagonistic tweeter, hasn’t let up one bit since taking over the company. And what he may have lost in revenue, he claimed he made up for in engagement. Part of the strategy seems to be relentlessly targeting enemies, either of him personally or of “free speech.”
In an interview with CBS earlier this month, Cook was asked if there were any ways Twitter could change that would cause Apple to remove it from the App Store. “They say they’re going to keep moderating and so…I’m counting on them to do that,” Cook replied. “Because I don’t think anyone really wants hate speech on their platform. So I’m counting on them to keep doing that.
In an op-ed in The New York Times last week, former Twitter trust and safety chief Yoel Roth, who left the company earlier this month, suggested that Twitter had already started receiving calls from app store operators after Musk’s takeover. Roth said the company’s failure to follow Google and Apple’s App Store rules could be “catastrophic”.
And last weekend Apple’s App Store manager Phil Schiller deleted his Twitter account.
While the status of Apple’s relationship with Twitter is unclear, the iPhone maker was running Black Friday ads on the platform as recently as last Thursday, according to publications seen by CNN.
Many companies have cut their digital ad spend in recent months as the economy has faltered, and Twitter likely still only made up a small portion of Apple’s advertising budget. Apple’s impact on Twitter, however, could be much greater, including if Musk succeeds in shifting his core business toward greater reliance on subscription revenue, and potentially has to pay Apple a 30% cut.
In a tweet on Monday, Musk asked his nearly 120 million followers if they knew “Apple is putting a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store?” In another tweet, he posted a photo of a freeway exit: one lane pointed to “pay 30%”, the other pointed to “go to war”. An old car labeled “Elon” skidded towards him.
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