Elon Musk accused Apple Inc of threatening to remove Twitter Inc from its app store without saying why. The owner of the social network wrote a series of tweets in which he also said that the iPhone maker had stopped advertising on the platform.
The billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla accused Apple of pressuring Twitter over content moderation requirements.
The action, which has not been confirmed by Apple, would not be unusual, as the company routinely enforces its policies and removes apps, as happened with Gab and Parler. The social network, which is popular among conservatives in the US, was reinstated by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices, the companies said at the time.
Apple almost stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” wrote Musk, who took Twitter private in a $44 billion deal last month.
He later tagged Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking „What’s going on here?“
Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
It’s not clear to me how far down the Apple food chain this idea has gone internally, and without knowing that, it’s not clear how seriously I should take any of this,“ said Randall Picker, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.
The world’s most valuable company spent about $131,600 on Twitter ads between Nov. 10 and 16, down from $220,800 from Oct. 16 to 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to the measurement firm Pathmatics ads.
In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the biggest advertiser on Twitter, spending $48 million and accounting for more than 4% of total revenue for the period, the Washington Post reported, citing an internal Twitter document.
Twitter did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the report.
„We’re Going to War“
Among the list of grievances released by Musk was the 30 percent fee Apple charges software developers for in-app purchases. Musk posted a meme suggesting he was willing to „go to war“ with Apple rather than pay the commission.
The fee has drawn criticism and lawsuits from companies such as Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, while attracting the attention of regulators worldwide.
The commission could weigh on Musk’s attempts to boost Twitter’s subscription revenue, in part to compensate for the exodus of advertisers due to content moderation issues.
Companies – from General Mills Inc to luxury car maker Audi of America – have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition, and Musk said earlier this month that the company had seen a „huge“ drop in revenue.
Ad sales account for about 90% of Twitter’s revenue.
The self-described free-speech absolutist, whose company has in the past few days restored several Twitter accounts, including that of former US President Donald Trump, accused activist groups of pressuring advertisers.