Elon Musk says Apple is threatening to remove Twitter from the App Store

Elon Musk accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter Inc from its app store without saying why in a series of tweets on Monday and said the iPhone maker had stopped advertising on the social network. A Twitter and Tesla executive said Apple is pressuring Twitter about content moderation requirements.

The action, which is not confirmed by Apple, will not be unusual since the company usually applies its rules and has previously removed applications such as Gab and Parler. The latter, popular among American environmentalists, was reinstated by Apple in 2021 after the app revised its content and rating practices, the companies said at the time.

“Apple has largely stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America? “said Musk in a tweet 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.

“It wasn’t clear to me how far this idea went within Apple and without knowing that, it’s not clear how seriously we should take this,” said Randal Picker, a professor at the University of Chicago Law. School.

The world’s largest company spent an estimated $131,600 (approx. Rs. 1,07,42,900) on Twitter ads between November 10 and November 16, down from $220,800 (approx. Rs. 1,80,23,385) in between Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, a week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad analytics firm Pathmatics.

In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the leading advertiser on Twitter, spending $48 million (about Rs. 391 crore) and accounting for more than 4 percent of total revenue for the period, reported the Washington Post, citing a document internal Twitter.

Twitter did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the report.

‘Go to war’

Among the grievances tweeted by Musk was the up to 30 percent fee Apple charges software developers for in-app purchases, with Musk posting a meme suggesting he was willing to “fight” Apple rather than pay a commission.

The money has drawn criticism and lawsuits from companies like Epic Games, maker of Fortnite, while attracting scrutiny from regulators around the world.

The commission may limit Musk’s efforts to increase subscription revenue for Twitter, in part to offset advertisers’ concerns about content moderation.

Companies from General Mills to luxury car maker Audi of America have suspended or suspended advertising on Twitter since the acquisition, and Musk said earlier this month the company had seen a “significant” drop in revenue.

Ad sales make up about 90 percent of Twitter’s revenue.

The self-described freedom of speech absolutist, whose company a few days ago returned many Twitter accounts, including that of former US President Donald Trump, accused activist groups of oppressing advertisers.

Ben Bajarin, head of consumer technology at research firm Creative Strategies, said Musk may be learning too much about Apple’s standard process for app updates.

“App review from Apple isn’t perfect by any means and it’s a consistently frustrating process for developers but what I’m hearing is a double-edged sword,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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