In context: Elon Musk has picked a new target for his public wrath: Apple. Most of the tweets posted by the billionaire over the last 16 hours or so have targeted Cupertino, and it all started with the revelation that Apple has mostly stopped advertising on the platform. A move that has prompted Musk to question if Apple hates free speech.
Musk's long-promised reduction of Twitter moderation and his reinstation of banned accounts such as Donald Trump have been worrying advertisers. Several have reportedly suspended or mostly suspended their ads on the platform, and it appears Apple is one of them.
"Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?" Musk tweeted. He followed up with a series of posts criticizing Apple's alleged censorship actions, as well as its 30% cut of everything sold on the App Store. The CEO also asked whether Apple might go after Tesla, too.
What's going on here @tim_cook?--- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
Musk also confirmed that Apple has threatened to boot the Twitter app from its App Store. No reason was given, but he later confirmed to a journalist that Apple was making moderation demands.
Both Google and Apple are said to be considering removing Twitter if it becomes a free-for-all with no moderation; Musk has also talked about monetizing adult content on the site, much like OnlyFans. The owner says he will build his own phone if the companies do decide to ban the app.
Who else has Apple censored? https://t.co/lZculFIkAX--- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
Apple is said to have been one of Twitter's biggest advertisers, spending over $100 million annually on ads. But the relationship started to look shaky when key Apple executive Phil Schiller recently deleted his account after Musk complained about Cupertino's fees, calling them a hidden 30% tax on the internet.
Being kicked from the Apple store would be a significant blow for Twitter---it's hard to imagine that a Musk-made phone would help things. The situation brings to mind the Parler app, which is currently being purchased by Ye, better known as Kanye West. It was banned from the Google Play and Apple App stores following the Capitol attack on January 6 last year. Parler changed its policies and was reinstated by Cupertino a few months later, in May 2021, while Google only brought it back last month, a full 18 months after the ban.
The Guardian writes that during the week before Musk bought Twitter (October 16 to October 22), Apple spent $220,800 on platform ads. That fell to $131,600 between November 10 and November 16. Expect the amount it spends on ads to continue to decline going forward.