Elon Musk goes to war with the almighty Apple
Eva Deschamps / November 29, 2022
Elon Musk, Twitter's owner for the past month, declared "war" on Apple on Monday, after already putting the social network in a perilous position by alienating advertisers, (ex) employees and regulators.
The tempestuous billionaire assured that Apple "threatened" to remove the social network from its application store, a must-have on iPhones.
"Apple has threatened to remove Twitter from its App Store, but they refuse to tell us why," said the Twitter boss, 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 said, before calling out the head of the California group in these terms: "What's going on Tim Cook?
Is Apple threatening the availability of Twitter on the App Store or making requirements for content moderation," asked an Internet user to Elon Musk, who replied "yes."
Apple did not immediately respond to a request from AFP.
Elon Musk has published a meme (parody image) representing a car named "Elon" that takes a highway exit in the direction of "declare war", instead of continuing straight to "pay 30%", the commission of Apple on user spending through the app store.
The Tesla boss advocates a relaxation of content moderation on the social network, in line with his absolutist vision of free speech. He recently had Donald Trump's account reinstated and other personalities banned after breaking the rules.
His approach has scared off many brands, from General Motors to Pfizer, who have suspended their ads on the platform. Twitter depends on advertising revenue for 90 percent of its revenue.
According to the Washington Post, in the first quarter of this year, Apple was the largest advertiser on the network, spending $48 million, or more than 4 percent of quarterly revenue.
The fight against problematic messages (harassment, misinformation, hate speech, etc.) is also essential vis-à-vis the authorities (the European Union, for example, requires platforms to remove illegal content quickly) and mobile operating systems, namely iOS (Apple) and Android (Google).
The two giants can ban any application that does not comply with their rules on content, often quite vague, with "catastrophic" consequences for the said application, explained ten days ago Yoel Roth, former head of security at Twitter.
"Apple and Google have enormous power over the decisions Twitter makes," he summarized in an editorial published by the New York Times.
Their representatives "regularly voice their objections to certain content," he said, leading to "delays in projects and crises that can last weeks or months.
Elon Musk, who has laid off more than half of Twitter's staff, is already facing many strategic issues, but he seems determined to provoke Apple.
"Secret suppression of free speech by Apple. Customers were never informed. What the fuck," he tweeted in response to a post from another account, accusing Apple of censorship on the subject of Covid.
He then promised to soon publish "Twitter files" (a term for documents revealed by whistleblowers), on the "suppression of free speech", because "the public deserves to know what really happened".
Did you know that Apple has a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store?" he asked again.
Many app publishers, Epic Games (Fortnite) in the lead, have publicly come out against Apple and Google's 15-30% commission on spending through their app stores in recent years.
Elon Musk has also relayed a video of Epic Games - which largely lost its first battle against Apple in court - comparing the iPhone manufacturer to the dictatorship of the novel "1984 ».
His plan for an $8-a-month subscription to get additional features and profile authentication will be affected by the commission.
"The new battle between Musk and Apple is not what investors want to see," reacted Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities. "The market wants less drama, not more," the analyst continued, "while every day, at Twitter, a new act comes along to encourage investors who bet on Tesla down."