Elon Musk Says Apple Has Threatened To ‘Withhold’ Twitter From The App Store
Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk said today on Twitter that Apple is the latest company to offer this feature. threatened to “withhold” Twitter from its App Store, suggesting that Apple is less than happy with the state of content moderation on the social news platform.
Apple has pausedIt appears that almost all the advertising was done on the platform according to Musk. Apple Vice President Phil Schiller who manages the App Store recently deleted his twitter account.
All of this is in context of Musk attempting to reframe Twitter as a service with a significant amount of subscription revenue, which — if transacted via the Apple App Store or Google’s equivalent, Google Play — would incur first-year commission of 30%, and subsequent year costs of 15%.
Not surprisingly, Musk is unhappy about that — as well as Apple’s content moderation policies, and has even suggested that he would consider making his own phone to avoid the iOS-Android duopoly in mobile operating systems.
It’s also in context of Twitter losing perhaps 70% of its staff, with likely many involved in content moderation and brand safety no longer in place. That has resulted in an increase of impersonation — particularly with paid-for verification — which Musk has said has now dissipated, and additional porn, spam, and inauthentic behavior, likely from bots, on the platform. Recent manifestationA huge amount of porn targeted any discussion on China and the anti Covid restriction riots within its cities.
It’s important to note that Musk used the word “withhold” and not remove. Twitter being withheld from the App Store may indicate that Twitter might be experiencing difficulties updating its apps. The app must go through an Apple App Store review to make sure it conforms to submission guidelines. As a point of reference, Spotify’s recent app update which including various ways for customers to buy audiobooks was rejected three times by Apple. Facebook has also struggled to update its gaming app over the years.
If a company can’t update its app on the App Store or Google Play, it essentially can’t innovate and deliver the services it wants to deliver to its users or customers.
This may be what is happening, but the App Store listing shows that the Twitter app was last updated a week ago and again four times within the past month.
Musk recently retweeted a tweet saying that Apple “should be more transparent about their processes and probably not have such a monopoly” and another that said “Apple should support free speech.” He’s also published a Twitter poll asking whether Apple should publish “all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers,” which so far has over 1.3 million votes and an 85% “yes” leaning.
Apple is currently in a battle with Epic Software, which makes Fortnite and wanted to sell digital products to its customers without paying the 30% “Apple Tax” fee. Epic updated Fortnite’s App Store functionality, which Apple pulled out of the App Store. The battle has continued for many years in courtrooms. Epic intends to sue Google in the ongoing battle.
If Twitter and Elon Musk — still the richest person on the planet — join the fight against Apple, this could change the way the App Store operates. Their fight may be joined by the European Union. I argue elsewhere that the European Union will transform the App store with its Digital Markets Act.
From that post, here’s what the Digital Markets Act could force Apple and Google to allow:
Removing previously installed apps
Side-loading apps or installing them the same way you’d install an app via the internet onto a computer.
Independent app stores
Payment processing by third parties
This would allow Musk to have what he desires. However, it is possible that Musk’s schedule may not be as flexible and accommodating as he prefers.
In perhaps a lack of speech that speaks volumes, Apple’s official Twitter account currently is following zero people and has exactly zero tweets: