Elon Musk seems to be ready to start a PR war with Apple. In a series of tweets today, the CEO of Twitter pointed out that Apple had stopped advertising on Twitter, then went on to say that the company has threatened to remove the app from its iOS App Store.
Musk started his public rant about Apple by wondering if the company stopped buying ads on Twitter because they “hate free speech in America.” Things escalated when Musk made a Twitter poll to ask his 120 million followers if “Apple should publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.” As of this writing, 86.3% of the 474,000 participants voted “Yes.”
Apple should publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
After a reporter from The Verge asked Musk if Apple had already contacted Twitter to discuss the company’s iOS app, Musk gave a positive answer. “Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” the Twitter CEO elaborated in another tweet.
It’s clear that Apple currently has a really ambivalent relationship with Twitter. The company recently deleted all tweets from the official Apple account on Twitter. If this account hasn’t been deleted yet. Phil Schiller, the head of the App Store did delete his personal account last week. For now, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, is still tweeting, and he wished a Happy Thanksgiving to his 13.7 million followers last week.
Apple is notorious for having almost zero tolerance for adult and harmful content on the App Store. The company is probably keeping a close eye on the flood of spammy porn tweets that are reportedly coming from China. According to a report from The Washington Post, Twitter has been struggling to moderate the adult spam that may come from government-connected accounts trying to mask tweets about protests against coronavirus restrictions in China.
If Apple ever decided to ban Twitter from its App Store, the consequences would be truly devastating for Twitter, which according to Musk is on a trajectory to reach a billion monthly users in 12 to 18 months. However, Apple taking action against the Twitter iOS app would also give a very good argument to Musk and everyone else complaining about the Apple/Google duopoly on mobile devices.
Last week, Musk also tweeted that he was ready to create his own smartphone platform if Apple or Google ever decided to ban Twitter from their app stores. “I certainly hope it does not come to that, but, yes, if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone,” the Twitter CEO wrote. Well, if you remember the story of Windows Phone, you probably know that this is much, much more difficult than it seems.