Elon Musk ‘resolves’ Apple row over ‘removal of Twitter from iPhone store’

After chat with Tim Cook the tycoon admits misunderstanding and Apple had ‘never considered removing platform’

Elon Musk has said he has “resolved” a misunderstanding with Apple over his claim that Twitter was being threatened with removal from the iPhone maker’s app store.

The new Twitter owner tweeted on Wednesday that he had had a “good conversation” with Apple CEO Tim Cook and that Apple had “never considered” removing the social media platform from its app store.

On Monday, Musk used his Twitter account to claim that Apple had broached removing Twitter for unspecified reasons. The Tesla CEO then indicated it was related to moderation standards at Twitter, while he launched a series of tweets criticising Apple including its policy of taking a cut of up to 30% from app sales.

Good conversation. Among other things, we resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store. Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 30, 2022

Musk’s Monday tweet flurry included a message tagging Tim Cook in which he asked “what’s going on here”. A meeting between Musk and Cook appears to have followed the outburst. A few hours before sending the “misunderstanding” tweet on Wednesday, Musk posted a short clip of a pond which he said was at Apple’s HQ, thanking Tim Cook for “taking me around”.

Musk’s original claim that Apple was threatening to remove Twitter from its app store indicated a deepening of the platform’s financial problems. The Tesla CEO has already admitted that Twitter has suffered a “massive drop in revenue” due to advertisers pausing their spending on the platform, reflecting concerns of a surge of inappropriate content on the platform after Musk’s takeover.

However, being sanctioned by one of Twitter’s key app distributors – alongside Google’s Play store – would cut off the platform from potential customers. Last month, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, described such a scenario as “catastrophic”. Apple’s app store guidelines state that the company will not accept apps that produce content or behaviour that “we believe is over the line”. Musk recently posted an internal presentation that showed Twitter’s daily user numbers climbing above 250m, compared with just under 238m in the summer.

Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist”, has reinstated Donald Trump’s Twitter account and declared an amnesty for permanently suspended accounts. It also emerged this week that Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against Covid-19 misinformation.

Musk received a shot across the bows from the European Union over content moderation on Wednesday when the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, warned Twitter must “significantly increase” efforts to comply with new online legislation covering issues including hate speech and disinformation.

The intervention over the Digital Services Act (DSA) by Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for the internal market, signalled Twitter was at risk of a substantial fine or even a ban, which are among the punishments for breaches of the act.

However, Breton said a video call with Musk about the DSA was “constructive” and that the Tesla CEO had “committed to comply” with the act.


Dan Milmo Global technology editor

The GuardianTramp

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