Elon Musk has accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter from its app store, and said the iPhone maker has stopped advertising on social media platforms for fear of free speech.
In a series of tweets on Monday, the CEO of billionaire Twitter and Tesla alluded to the company’s attempt to censor content on the Internet and accused the smartphone maker of stopping advertising on Twitter.
“Apple has almost stopped advertising on Twitter.Do they hate free speech in America?” Musk said.
Later in the day, he also said Apple was considering removing Twitter from its app store, but didn’t provide proof of that.
Apple also threatened to withhold Twitter from the App Store, but didn’t say why.
He later tagged Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking, “What’s going on here?”
Apple hasn’t said anything about such a plan, but it’s not unprecedented. The company regularly enforces rules on third-party apps in its app stores, and the policy has resulted in the removal of apps like Gab and Parler, which are popular with US conservatives.
The companies said at the time that Parler was restored by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices.
war of words
Musk also answered “yes” to a user’s question whether Apple was threatening Twitter’s presence in the app store or calling for moderation.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company spent an estimated US$131,600 on Twitter ads between November 10 and November 16, down from US$220,800 between October 16 and October 22, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.
A growing number of companies, from General Mills to luxury automaker Audi of America, have either stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition.
Musk, a self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, said earlier this month that Twitter’s revenue had dropped “massively” and accused activist groups of putting pressure on advertisers. About 90% of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising sales.
The platform has reinstated the accounts of former President Donald Trump, comedian Kathy Griffin, and US Congressman Marjorie Taylor Green over the past few days.
Following Trump’s reinstatement, a coalition of civil rights activists said last week that it was urging Twitter advertisers to issue statements about the withdrawal of ads from the platform.
At a presentation to advertisers in May, some agencies and brands were already skeptical about concerns that Musk would curtail content moderation and security protections on his platform.