Twitter owner Elon Musk claimed in a series of tweets on Monday that Apple had threatened to remove the Twitter app from the App Store as part of its app review moderation process.
“Apple also threatened to remove Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” Musk said. tweeted.
In other tweets launched on Monday morning, he called Apple’s App Store fees “30% secret tax“, and executed a survey asking if “Apple should publish all the censorship measures it has taken that affect its customers”. He also claimed that Apple had removed most of its ads from Twitter.
Apple’s App Store is the only way to distribute software on iPhones. If the Twitter application were withdrawn, the social network would lose one of its main distribution platforms, although the service is available for the Web.
Elon Musk has said his company SpaceX cannot fund Starlink service in Ukraine “indefinitely”.
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Additionally, Apple requires iPhone app makers to pay between 15% and 30% of all digital goods sold through their apps. Musk said one of his plans for Twitter is to raise billions of dollars through subscriptions, such as Twitter Blue, which is offered through the iPhone app. If this were to achieve Musk’s goals, Apple would raise hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
Apple has faced challenges over its App Store fees and policies from companies such as Spotify and Epic Games, but Musk is no stranger to catching the world’s attention and may represent Apple’s biggest challenge to its control over iPhone app distribution so far.
Apple declined to comment on Musk’s tweets.
But there are signs that Apple is closely monitoring the social network to see if it violates App Store policies.
Representatives from no-name app stores, which include Apple’s App Store as well as Google Play for Android devices, reached out to Twitter earlier this month after Musk took over and the site experienced a wave of hate speech, according to an editorial in the New York Times. by Yoel Roth, former head of trust and safety at Twitter.
Phil Schiller, the former Apple marketing manager who oversees App Review, apparently deleted his Twitter account earlier this month after Musk took over.
Phillip Shoemaker, Apple’s former application review manager and current CEO of Identity.com, said Schiller’s decision to delete his account reminded him of a company taking steps to “prepare for war. “. He thinks Apple’s app review department is keeping a close eye on Twitter’s content moderation under Musk to see if more questionable content, such as pornography, gets through.
Apple’s recent moves are “like when you pull troops out of a country before attacking,” Shoemaker said. “You think you’re going to have to remove these apps from the store.”
Where Twitter Might Break Apple’s Rules
There are two main reasons why the Apple App Store might take a closer look at Twitter under its public guidelines:
- Apple requires apps with user-generated content, such as Twitter, to have strong content moderation systems. Insufficient content moderation was the reason Apple launched Parler, a small competitor to Twitter, in 2020. Musk reportedly cut Twitter’s content moderation staff significantly.
- Apple requires apps to pay fees between 30% and 15% for digital purchases. When Epic Games implemented a system to bypass Apple’s cut, Apple removed it. If Twitter were to make a similar move, it could force Apple’s hand.
There are also other reasons why Twitter might be breaking Apple’s rules, including its insistence that adult content isn’t discoverable by default. Twitter remains one of the biggest social networks that allows adult content, opening up gray areas for App Store delays or issues.
Apple’s App Store uses employees to review every app and update that goes on the platform. App reviewers often send short replies highlighting issues without being explicit about what apps need to do to pass, CNBC previously reported.
Musk has been tweaking Apple for years and seems to enjoy doing it. He has complained about Apple’s App Store charges in the past, although the You’re here the app does not allow in-app purchases. He also fought with Apple’s alleged plan to build electric cars, although Apple’s secret project never shipped a car.
In 2015, Musk teased Apple by saying he only hires rejected Tesla employees and calls Apple the “Tesla Graveyard.”
But Musk’s moves on Monday go beyond teasing and rivalry, and suggest he may be ready for a long PR battle over Apple’s rules. In a tweet, he posted a meme in which a the car leaves the highway under a road sign offering two choices: “Pay 30%” and “Go to war”. The car chose the latter option.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Phillip Shoemaker’s name.
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