Elon Musk has targeted Apple’s App Store policies amid claims the company has “threatened to withhold” Twitter from its store. According to Musk, Apple “won’t tell us why” it has problems with Twitter, but threats do
In subsequent tweets, Musk criticized Apple’s 30% “tax” on in-app purchases and claimed the App Store owner had “censored” other developers. He, too that Apple has “largely stopped advertising on Twitter.” (Apple wouldn’t be a major advertiser to do this in recent weeks.)
This wouldn’t be the first time Apple has gone head-to-head with Twitter. In a recent op-ed The New York TimesTwitter’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth said Apple App Store reviewers often flagged content on Twitter during the app review process.
“During our time on Twitter, app store representatives regularly raised concerns about the content available on our platform,” Roth wrote, saying that app reviewers had reported instances of racial slurs and nudity on the service. “Even though they appear to be largely driven by manual checks and anecdotes, these review procedures have the power to derail company plans and trigger outright crises for weeks or months at a time.”
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Musk did not specify whether Apple has new updates to the service or is threatening to remove the app from its store entirely. However, there are a number of recent issues that may have signaled Twitter for further scrutiny.
Sunday, the Guardian that Twitter initially failed to remove a “freshly uploaded” video of a 2019 terrorist attack at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, until government officials alerted the company to its existence. There was also widespread concern from activists about the increase in the number of high-profile accounts being banned for violating Twitter’s hate speech policies. Musk also recently stated that he plans to offer previously banned accounts.
Apple has strict, if unevenly enforced, rules governing the content that can appear in apps in its store. Parler, a Twitter “free speech” rival, has been out of the App Store for months because of its lax content moderation rules (the app was reinstated after it rolled out an AI-based moderation system). In 2018, Tumblr content after a brief removal from the App Store.