Elon Musk said he had a “good conversation” with Apple chief executive Tim Cook and “resolved the misunderstanding” about his claim that Twitter could be removed from the App Store, just days after the world’s richest man unleashed a tirade against the most valuable tech company.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Musk said that “Tim was clear that Apple never considered” potentially removing Twitter from the App Store, describing it as a “misunderstanding.”
Mr Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion (€42 billion) last month, also thanked Mr Cook for “taking me round Apple’s beautiful HQ”, and posted a video from Apple Park.
The volte-face comes after the billionaire entrepreneur on Monday accused Apple of threatening to “withhold Twitter from its App Store” without explaining why, and criticised the iPhone maker for curbing advertising on the platform, writing: “Do they hate free speech in America?”
The Tesla and SpaceX chief executive also raised concerns about Apple’s “in-app purchase” policy, which gives it a 15-30 per cent cut of digital purchases made on the iPhone, and claims that the company abuses its market power.
Mr Musk has previously outlined plans to shift Twitter away from relying on advertising revenues — in which Apple takes no cut — towards more subscription revenues, from which Apple would take a slice.
Apple declined to comment.
The apparent reconciliation comes amid growing concern among some nonprofits and regulators about Musk’s relaxation of Twitter’s content moderation policing. Mr Musk, a self-declared “free speech absolutist”, is reversing most permanent bans on the platform and allowing all speech as long as it is legal, although “negative/hate speech” will be not be boosted in users’ feeds.
The approach has prompted dozens of large brands to pull spending from the platform over fears their advertising may run alongside toxic content.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Twitter said none of its policies had changed and that its trust and safety team remained “strong and well-resourced”.
Apple maintains guidelines requiring social media apps to “block abusive users”, allow users to “report offensive content” and to filter “objectionable material from being posted”.
When Apple expelled Parler, a Twitter rival used by rightwing extremists, Apple said it had “not upheld its commitment to moderate and remove harmful or dangerous content encouraging violence and illegal activity.”
Although the feud appears to be over for now, Mr Musk’s tweets were a catalyst for renewed criticism of Apple that could prove damaging, as antitrust regulators and app developers voice concerns over its rules and the role it plays as “gatekeeper” by deciding what content is allowed on more than 1 billion phones worldwide.
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, warned Apple that removing Twitter from the App Store would be viewed as a “raw exercise of monopolistic power” and “would merit a response from the United States Congress”.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook parent Meta, was also critical of Apple’s market power during an interview at The New York Times’s Dealbook summit on Wednesday, saying: “I do think Apple has sort of singled themselves out as the only company that is trying to control, unilaterally, what apps get on the [Apple] device and I don’t think that’s a sustainable or a good place to be.”
Apple has been dealing with criticism of the App Store for years. Epic Games, the maker of popular mobile game Fortnite, sued Apple in 2020 but only won on one of the 10 counts. Epic and Apple have both appealed against the decision. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022