A behind-the-scenes dispute between Apple and Twitter could escalate. Musk said he was threatened with suspension from the App Store.
Apple has threatened to remove Twitter from the App Store without giving a reason, according to Elon Musk. This is what the new Twitter boss claims and accuses Apple of disregarding freedom of expression. However, Apple had already made it clear in the past few days that they were closely monitoring how user-generated content was moderated on Twitter and that consequences would be drawn if necessary.
Apple has also largely stopped advertising on Twitter, according to Musk. Should Twitter be removed from the App Store, the app could no longer be installed on iPhones and the social network would lose what is probably the most important distribution channel. Even Elon Musk himself tweeted his sprawling criticism Monday from an Apple smartphone.
Musk vs Apple
Musk’s tweets suggest the dispute between Apple and Twitter could escalate. The fact that Apple banned apps from the App Store due to a lack of moderation is nothing new. A few days after the attack on the US Parliament, the social media app Parler, which is used primarily by right-wing and right-wing extremists, was removed from the App Store. Two weeks ago, Apple boss Tim Cook said in an interview that he expects Twitter to continue to moderate content: “Because I think nobody wants hate speech on their own platform.”
However, Twitter has since laid off thousands of employees and contract workers, which has already affected content moderation. Just over the weekend, Twitter removed a video of the racist assassination attempt in Christchurch after a tip from the New Zealand government, the Guardian reports. Also, there are reports that hate speech has surged on the platform following Musk’s acquisition. Also, according to Wired, Twitter’s teams to ensure that child abuse images are removed are all but gone.
In his tweets, Musk now claims that Apple is not concerned with removing inflammatory content, but that the company hates “free speech in America”. Finally, he even speaks of a “battle for the future of our civilization” because if freedom of expression is lost even in America, only tyranny will remain.
During the preparations for the Twitter takeover, Musk repeatedly claimed that he was concerned with ensuring freedom of expression. But he also understands this to include the spread of fake news and hate speech. Last but not least, Donald Trump, he allowed the former US President to return to the platform; this tried to prevent his deselection with the help of a mob.
Indications of escalation
According to CNBC, there are already signs that Apple is also preparing for a dispute. Twitter was repeatedly asked about unwanted content on the platform by those responsible for several app stores, including those from Google and Apple. Phil Schiller, who heads Apple’s app controls department, apparently deleted his Twitter account after Musk’s takeover. One of his predecessors at the post called it “preparing for war” to the US financial news site. The procedure is similar to the withdrawal of one’s own troops from a country that one wants to attack. Apparently, Apple assumes that the app will have to be removed. It would also be possible that Apple only suspended Twitter and no longer released updates.
Meanwhile, Musk himself has again criticized the fees that Apple claims for in-app purchases on iOS. 30% of most purchases made there go to Apple. Musk wants to turn Twitter into an app with significantly more functions and, among other things, integrate a payment function there. Fees demanded by app store operators are likely to be a thorn in his side. An escalating dispute with Apple will definitely be expensive for Musk and Twitter. The income from the service, which depends on advertising, is already falling noticeably because more and more companies are currently not placing any ads there.