Elon Musk, who has owned Twitter for a month, declared “war” on Apple on Monday after alienating advertisers, (former) employees and regulators, leaving the social network in a precarious position.
The stormy billionaire assured that Apple “threatened” to remove the social network from the app store, which is essential for the iPhone.
“Apple threatened to remove Twitter from the App Store, but they won’t tell us why,” a Twitter boss said after a series of tweets accusing the Apple brand of censorship and abuse of dominance.
“Apple has essentially stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?”, he began, before criticizing the leader of the Californian group with the words: “What’s going on Tim Cook?”.
Is Apple threatening Twitter’s presence in the App Store or pushing for content moderation?” asked user Elon Musk, who answered yes.
Apple did not immediately respond to AFP’s request.
Elon Musk posted a meme (parody image) of a car named Elon driving down the highway to “declare war” on Apple’s user spending commission instead of continuing to “pay 30%.” made through the app store.
– “Great Power” –
Tesla’s boss is in favor of loosening content moderation on the social network, in line with his absolutist view of freedom of expression. It recently reinstated the accounts of Donald Trump and other banned individuals after violating the rules.
Its approach has spooked many brands, from General Motors to Pfizer, which have stopped advertising on the platform. However, Twitter’s turnover depends on 90% of advertising revenue.
In the first quarter of this year, Apple was the network’s largest advertiser, spending $48 million, or more than 4% of quarterly revenue, according to the Washington Post.
The fight against problematic messages (harassment, disinformation, hate speech, etc.) is also the responsibility of authorities (e.g. the European Union requires platforms to quickly remove illegal content) and mobile operating systems, i.e. iOS (Apple) and Android ( Google).
The two giants can ban any app that doesn’t respect the content rules, often with very vague and “disastrous” consequences for the app in question, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of security, explained ten days ago.
“Apple and Google have enormous power over the decisions Twitter makes,” he concluded in an editorial published in the New York Times.
Their representatives “regularly express objections to certain content,” he said, “causing delays in projects and crises that can last for weeks or months.”
– “Twitter Files” –
Elon Musk, who fired more than half of Twitter’s employees, already faces many strategic challenges, but he seems determined to challenge Apple.
“Apple’s Secret Suppression of Free Speech. Customers Never Told. What Happened?” he tweeted in response to a message from another account accusing Apple of Covid-themed censorship.
He then vowed to soon release the “Twitter files” (documents uncovered by whistleblowers) about the “stifling of free speech” because “the public really deserves to know what happened in the past.”
“Did you know that Apple imposes a hidden 30% tax on everything you buy through the App Store?” he asked.
Many software publishers, led by Epic Games (Fortnite), have publicly risen against the 15-30% commission charged by Apple and Google on app store spending in recent years.
Elon Musk also released a video from Epic Games – which lost its first battle against Apple in court – comparing the iPhone maker to the dictatorship of the novel “1984”.
The $8 monthly subscription it offers to get additional features and profile authentication will be affected by the commission.
“A new battle between Musk and Apple is not what investors want to see,” said Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities.
“The market wants less drama, not more,” the analyst continued, “Every day there’s a new move on Twitter to encourage investors to bet on Tesla.”