In a series of angry tweets, Twitter's new owner said Apple had threatened to remove the social media app from its App Store — and 1.2 billion iPhones.
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Of all the fights Elon Musk has picked since taking control of Twitter, the most dangerous may be the one he has now picked with Apple — accusing it of threatening to boot Twitter off the App Store.
After complaining that "they won't tell us why," Musk posted a series of tweets accusing Apple of censorship of other companies, attacking the 30% fee it charges for anything purchased through an iPhone.
That all started about an hour after he tweeted:
"Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?"
It's in much the same vein as his Nov. 4 threat to "thermonuclear name and shame" companies that pull advertising — and threatening your customers is rarely a successful strategy — as concerns grow about what global media agency Omnicom reportedly told its clients is "a serious risk to brand safety" over Musk's promise to restore freedom of speech.
Big Losses Possible
Among the posts was a retweet of an ad game maker Fortnite made in 2020, based on Apple's famous "1984" commercial, after it was banned for bypassing the 30% fee. Its tagline read:
"Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming 1984."
Spoiler: Fortnite is still not available on the App Store. Except now, it's not on 1.2 billion iPhones.
Could you access Twitter from an iPhone without an app? Of course, but it wouldn't be as pretty or smooth.
And like Apple, the Android's Google Play store has fairly strict "appropriate content" standards — and both run the gamut from banning hate speech, harrassment and bullying to pornography and advertising firearms and alcohol. On both platforms, these rules tend to be very broad as well as very, very subjective, as Apple makes clear:
"We will reject apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said [about what is or isn't pornography], 'I'll know it when I see it.' And we think that you will also know it when you cross it."
In a Nov. 18 New York Times opinion piece, Twitter's departing head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, warned:
"Twitter will have to balance its new owner's goals against the practical realities of life on Apple's and Google's internet…"
Starting with the obvious, Dogecoin jumped 25% in the past week after speculation grew that he would integrate his favorite memecoin as a payments currency.
But beyond that, a great deal of the crypto industry's conversation takes place over Twitter, and it's where a lot of influencers' muscle is flexed, ideas are debated and, of course, FUD sowed.
Just look at what some inside joke tweets about wrapped ether (wETH) being insolvent and losing its "peg" to ether — which isn't really how it works, as the ETH token is simply held in a publicly viewable smart contract — got so out of control that the jokesters had to apologize.