What you should know about Elon Musk’s fresh feud with Apple

Ganiu Oloruntade
Elon Musk, CEO, Twitter

Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk is no stranger to picking up fights, and he is undoubtedly unapologetic about it. Since his dramatic takeover, the social media company has seen him lay off thousands of workers and introduce several drastic changes in pursuit of his “free speech” mission.

Days ago, the billionaire took a swipe at Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange platform, FTX, saying the latter is better at “bribing media” than running a company.

Tech giant Apple is Elon Musk’s latest victim. In a series of tweets on Monday evening, Musk asked if the iPhone maker disliked free speech after claiming the company halted advertising on Twitter.

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” he wrote, and later called out Apple CEO Tim Cook for an explanation.

Before Apple, many other major ad buyers cut back advertising on the platform since Musk became CEO, aka Chief Twit. The Washington Post reported Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48m on ads on the social network in the first quarter of 2022. Companies that have stopped paying in recent weeks include General Mills, the maker of Cheerios, and Volkswagen.

Musk also accused Apple of threatening to remove Twitter from its App Store without disclosing any reasons for the move. If the claims were to be accurate, iPhone users might not be able to use Twitter again since downloading the app would be limited — an action The New York Times said would “amount to censorship”.

The Chief Twit then published a poll asking if Apple should “public all censoring actions” that it has taken so far with effects on customers. Over 2 million tweeps have voted at the time of filing this report.

He would later claim in another tweet that “Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store”. But writer John William Sherrod, in response, insisted that taxes can only be “imposed by the State and enforced up to and including prison if you fail to pay them”, adding that “the penalty for failure to pay this commission is exclusion from the App Store”.

Read also: Elon Musk takes fresh dig at SBF amid FTX saga.

A strained relationship

Though Tim Cook and Apple have maintained silence over Musk’s allegations, his controversial tweets mean the Chief Twit has set the stage for a likely power struggle with the iPhone maker.

“This is a battle for the future of civilization. If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead,” Musk further said of his fresh “war” on Apple.

This is hardly surprising because Musk appears to have a strained relationship with Apple. Recall the Tesla boss criticized Apple’s App Store fee for in-app purchases, describing it as a “hidden 30% tax” on the internet. Earlier this month, Apple App Store boss Phil Schiller deleted his Twitter account.

But in a recent interview with “CBS Mornings”, Apple CEO Cook was asked whether there was a risk that Twitter could be removed from the App Store. In response, he said Twitter would continue to be distributed and praised the social media company’s commitment to moderate abusive content.

Related post: What Elon Musk’s Twitter monetisation for creators could look like.

Elon Musk and his pursuit of ‘free speech’

Since his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, Musk – the world’s richest man — has never missed an opportunity to show that he is indeed the new Sheriff in town. With his tweets and decisions, the self-styled “free speech absolutist” has taken up fights with the powers that be.

Elon Musk Twitter

Last week, Musk announced that Twitter was reinstating thousands of banned accounts following the outcome of a poll, barely a week after he reinstated the account of former U.S. president Donald Trump who is yet to return to the platform.

With his latest face-off with Apple, many wonder if the billionaire can survive what is widely considered his “riskiest gambit” as Twitter boss.


Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!