Elon Musk versus Tim Cook, the battle is looming. Twitter’s new owner declared “war” on Apple on Monday, having already put the social network in a perilous position by alienating advertisers, (ex)employees and regulators. The tempestuous billionaire assured that Apple “threatened” to withdraw the social network from its application store, essential on the iPhone.
“Apple has threatened to remove Twitter from its App Store, but they refuse to tell us why,” said the boss of Twitter, after a series of tweets accusing the Apple brand of censorship and abuse of dominant position.
“Apple has basically stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America? “, he notably launched, before challenging the leader of the Californian group in these terms: “What is happening Tim Cook? “.
“Is Apple threatening Twitter’s availability on the App Store or making content moderation requirements? “asked a user to Elon Musk, who replied” yes “. Apple did not immediately respond to a request from AFP.
“30% Secret Tax”
Elon Musk published a meme (parody image) representing a car called “Elon” which takes a freeway exit in the direction of “declare war”, instead of continuing straight towards “pay 30%”, the commission of ‘Apple on user spending made through the app store. He assured that the Cupertino company levied a “secret tax” on all transactions. Twitter’s moderation service corrected it, clarifying that there was nothing secret about this commission which has existed for almost 15 years and which many companies have fought against, from Spotify to Epic Games.
The boss of Tesla advocates a relaxation of the moderation of content on the social network, in accordance with his absolutist vision of freedom of expression. He recently had the account of Donald Trump and other banned personalities reinstated after breaking the rules.
His approach is scaring many brands, from General Motors to Pfizer, who have suspended their ads on the platform. However, Twitter’s turnover depends on 90% of advertising revenue.
According to the washington postin the first quarter of this year, Apple was the largest advertiser on the network, spending $48 million, or more than 4% 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 quickly remove illegal content) and mobile operating systems , i.e. iOS (Apple) and Android (Google).
The two giants can ban any application that does not respect their rules on content, which are 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 summed up in an editorial published by the New York Times. Their representatives “regularly raise their objections to certain content”, he detailed, leading “to delay projects and spark crises that can last for weeks or months”.
Elon Musk promises the publication of the “Twitter files”
Elon Musk, who has fired more than half of Twitter’s staff, is already facing many strategic problems, but he seems determined to provoke Apple. “Apple’s Secret Suppression of Free Speech.” Customers were never informed. What the fuck is this? he tweeted in response to a message from another account, accusing Apple of Covid-themed censorship.
He then promised to soon publish “Twitter files” (a term designating documents revealed by whistleblowers), on the “suppression of freedom of expression”, because “the public deserves to know what happened really past”.
Elon Musk also relayed a video from Epic Games – which largely lost its first battle against Apple in court – comparing the iPhone maker to the dictatorship of the novel “1984”.
His proposed $8 per 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,” continued the analyst, “as every day at Twitter, a new act comes to encourage investors who are betting on Tesla down.”