Elon Musk claims that Apple has threatened to “withhold” Twitter from the iOS App Store for unknown reasons. The news follows a tweet where Musk said Apple had “mostly stopped advertising” on the platform and a poll asking whether Apple should “publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.” Apple did not immediately comment on Musk’s claim.
The news follows much more subtle signs of mounting tension between Apple and Musk-owned Twitter. Musk has criticized Apple’s App Store fee for in-app purchases, dubbing it a “hidden 30% tax” on the internet. And Apple App Store boss Phil Schiller deleted his Twitter account following Musk’s takeover, shortly after Donald Trump’s account was reinstated.
In a November 15th interview with CBS News, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “they say that they are going to continue to moderate. I’m counting on them to continue to do that.” Musk, however, has pledged to loosen Twitter’s moderation guidelines and floated the idea of a mass unbanning of suspended accounts.
Yes, by all means, take on the biggest company in the world—one that could make or break your platform with a single decision—instead of just reassuring them you won’t condone racist threats, incitements to violence, or corrosive conspiracy theories. Sounds like a plan!
In a recent tweet, Musk claimed Apple was “withholding” approval of its app without saying why.
He also—rather hilariously—attacked Apple for not sending him money even after he specifically asked them to.
Of course, Musk’s own decisions have no doubt had more than a little to do with Apple’s cold shoulder. He’s weakened the company, including its ability to respond to offensive content, with his massive layoffs, and his new “free speech-ish” vibe has brought the orcs out of hiding. Forbes:
It’s also in context of Twitter losing perhaps 70% of its staff, with likely many involved in content moderation and brand safety no longer in place. That has resulted in an increase of impersonation — particularly with paid-for verification — which Musk has said has now dissipated, and additional porn, spam, and inauthentic behavior, likely from bots, on the platform. The most recent manifestation: a massive amount of porn targeting any discussion of China and the anti-Covid restriction riots in its cities.
It’s important to note that Musk used the word “withhold” and not remove. Withholding Twitter from the App Store suggests that Twitter may be having difficulties updating its app, which must pass an Apple App Store review for compliance with app submission guidelines. As a point of reference, Spotify’s recent app update which including various ways for customers to buy audiobooks was rejected three times by Apple. Facebook also had trouble updating its gaming app in recent years.
In other words, if Twitter gets bounced off Apple’s App Store, Musk will have no one but himself to blame. But that’s not how Sen. Tom Cotton sees it! On Hugh Hewitt’s unreality show, the man who puts the “sass” in Arkansas claimed petty envy was lurking somewhere behind Cook’s avuncular gaze. Watch:
HEWITT: “Apple is considering removing Twitter from the App Store. How does that strike you? How would you respond to that?”
COTTON: “Hugh, I think that would be a very ill-advised decision by Tim Cook at Apple. I understand that he may not care for Elon Musk, maybe he’s a little envious of Elon Musk’s massive success as a businessman, but to remove a widely used social media app from Apple’s App Store simply because he has political disagreements with Elon Musk and the direction he’s taking Twitter would simply be inviting aggressive legislative and regulatory action in Washington.”
Shorter Cotton: “If you don’t create a special carveout for newly racist Twitter, Congress is going to punish you, so let the Nazis run wild—or else.”
If mainstream Republicans are running afoul of Twitter’s rules, they need to either examine themselves or those rules more closely. But what Musk is basically saying is that the old rules against peeing in the pool are brutally unfair to chronic pool-pissers.
Of course, anyone is free to swim in an ocean of urine if they want to, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should be required to join the party.
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