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Twitter owner Elon Musk claimed on Monday in a series of tweets that Apple has threatened to remove the Twitter app from the App Store as part of its app review moderation process.
“Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” Musk abruptly tweeted.
He offered no details or proof to back up his complaints toward the company.
Did you know Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store? https://t.co/LGkPZ4EYcz
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
According to CNBC, in other tweets fired off on Monday morning, he called Apple’s App Store fees a “secret 30% tax,” and ran a poll asking if “Apple should publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.” He also claimed that Apple has pulled most of its advertising from Twitter.
Apple’s App Store is the only way to distribute software to iPhones. If the Twitter app were pulled, the social network would lose one of its main distribution platforms, although the service is available for the web.
In addition, Apple requires iPhone app makers to pay between 15% and 30% of any digital goods sold through their apps. Musk has said one of his plans for Twitter is to raise billions of dollars from subscriptions, such as Twitter Blue, which is offered through the iPhone app. If it were to grow to Musk’s goals, Apple would collect hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
What’s going on here @tim_cook?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
Apple has faced challenges to its App Store fees and policies from companies such as Spotify and Epic Games, but Musk may represent Apple’s biggest challenge to its control over iPhone app distribution so far.
Neither Tim Cook nor Apple has responded to a request for comment on Musk’s complaints as of yet. However, there are signs that Apple is watching the social network closely to see if it violates any App Store policies.
BREAKING NEWS: Apple has threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store.
— 9gagceo ???? (@PoliticsVerse) November 28, 2022
Representatives for unnamed 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 saw a wave of hate speech, according to a New York Times op-ed by Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety.
The news of Musk’s frustration with Apple comes as Twitter employees in the UK and Germany were not paid on time.
SCOOP: Twitter didn’t pay its current and former employees on time in the UK and Germany today. “It has come to our attention that some of you may not have received your November 2022 salary yet in your bank account,” an email sent this morning says.
— Chris Stokel-Walker ~ @email@example.com (@stokel) November 28, 2022
Phil Schiller, Apple’s former chief marketer who oversees App Review, apparently deleted his Twitter account earlier this month after Musk took over.
CNBC reports there are also other reasons why Twitter might fall afoul of Apple’s rules, including its insistence that adult content not be discoverable by default. Twitter remains one of the most prominent social networks allowing adult content, opening up gray areas for App Store delays or issues.
Elon is panicking now that he said Apple was allegedly thinking of pulling Twitter from the app store. He’s scared and backed into a corner. It’s game over if the app stores pull Twitter. Yes, it’ll still be accessible via browser but it would cripple Twitter. pic.twitter.com/bVexb9CIU7
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) November 28, 2022
As Musk tries to drum up engagement on Twitter and fulfill his promises to reduce the platform’s limits on speech, he has shown that he’s not afraid to alienate two of his most important business stakeholders: App stores that distribute Twitter and advertisers that fund it.
Having allowed both Ye and Donald Trump back onto the platform in recent weeks, Elon Musk continues to make public decisions which prove to stunt not only Twitter’s growth, but challenge its very survival.
This story is developing.