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Elon Musk threat of Apple ‘war’ in row over Twitter

Elon Musk appeared to threaten a “war” with Apple after claiming that it had cut back on advertising with Twitter and was trying to exclude the social media site from its app store.

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” Musk tweeted.

He added: “Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why.” Apple has strict policies on content and performance that it enforces on apps in its store, taking up to 30 per cent of revenue in return. Musk has threatened to build an alternative phone if Twitter is taken off Apple and Google’s app stores.

Yoel Roth, the former head of trust and safety at Twitter, who recently left the company, wrote in an article for The New York Times: “Failure to adhere to Apple’s and Google’s guidelines would be catastrophic, risking Twitter’s expulsion from their app stores and making it more difficult for billions of potential users to get Twitter’s services.

“This gives Apple and Google enormous power to shape the decisions Twitter makes.” However, despite falling out with Musk, Roth said the billionaire was right to question the legitimacy of Apple’s policing. “Platform policies are shaped by the preferences of a small group of predominantly American tech executives. Steve Jobs didn’t believe porn should be allowed in the App Store, and so it isn’t allowed,” he wrote.

Phil Schiller, the head of Apple’s app store, deactivated his Twitter account after Donald Trump’s reinstatement on the platform, although Tim Cook, Apple chief executive, still tweets.

Apple and Google suspended the free speech network Parler from their stores, forcing it to invest more in content moderation.

Advertisers have paused spending on Twitter after Musk’s decision to allow back Trump and other suspended users and his sacking of thousands of employees, including content moderators. The campaign group Media Matters for America has claimed that 50 of the top 100 advertisers on Twitter have paused or intend to halt their spending since the takeover. That would account for $750 million in advertising in 2022, out of the company’s annual revenue of $5billion.

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