Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg joined Twitter CEO Elon Musk in his criticism of Apple for the company’s ability to unilaterally control its app store.
During a speech at the New York Times’ DealBook Summit, Zuckerberg said that Apple is the only platform “where one company can control what apps get on the device,” a situation he characterized as neither “sustainable” nor “good.” The founder also noted that other systems such as Windows and Android do not exercise such aggressive gatekeeping.
Meta controls three of the top four social networking platforms on the Apple app store, including WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook. Twitter ranks first in the app store’s news category.
Musk, who officially acquired Twitter last month and desires to pivot the social media company’s business plan toward a subscription-based model, said that Apple, which levies a 30% fee on in-app purchases, enforces a functional tax on the internet. The entrepreneur previously said that Apple has “threatened to withhold” Twitter from its app store without explanation.
Noting that Apple has “mostly stopped advertising” on Twitter, the world’s richest man asked whether the world’s largest company hates “free speech in America.” Several advertisers have backed away from Twitter at the behest of activist groups claiming that “extremists” consider the Musk takeover “a new opportunity to post the most abusive, harassing, and racist language and imagery,” including “clear threats of violence against people with whom they disagree.”
Musk hinted that he would consider launching a new brand of smartphones in the event that Apple removes Twitter from the app store. “I certainly hope it does not come to that, but, yes, if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone,” he told commentator Liz Wheeler.
Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) asserted that a potential move to delist Twitter would constitute a significant abuse of power from Apple. “He’s providing free speech, and so if Apple responds to that by nuking them from the app store, I think that would be a huge, huge mistake,” the governor said, noting that a response from Congress could be warranted.
Musk recently published a set of investor slides showing that the daily inflow of new users into Twitter has reached two million under his leadership, while “user active minutes per day” reached eight billion. The company now has more than 250 million monetizable daily active users, with all three metrics surpassing previous company records.
According to a report from left-wing organization Media Matters—one of the groups that signed the letter asking advertisers to sever their relationships with Twitter—as many as 50 of the largest 100 advertisers on the platform have “either announced or seemingly stopped” their campaigns. The world’s richest man initially told advertisers that he acquired Twitter in order to foster free speech and noted in the slides that purported hate speech impressions have dwindled under his watch. The hesitant advertisers, however, have spent $2 billion on the platform over the past two years, dealing a salient blow to the company’s bottom line.
“Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists,” Musk confirmed earlier this month. “Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”