Twitter owner Elon Musk claimed on Monday in a series of tweets that Apple had 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 tweeted.
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.
But there are signs that Apple is watching the social network closely to see if it violates any App Store policies.
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.
Phil Schiller, Apple’s former chief marketer who oversees App Review, apparently deleted his Twitter account earlier this month after Musk took over.
Phillip Shoemaker, the former head of Apple’s app review and current CEO of Identity.com, said Schiller’s move to delete his account reminded him of a company making moves to “prepare for war.” He believes that Apple’s app review department is keeping a close eye on Twitter’s content moderation under Musk to see if more questionable content, such as porn, slips through.
Apple’s recent moves are “like when you remove troops from a country before you attack,” Shoemaker said. “You’re thinking you’re going to have to pull these apps from the store.”
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