Apple has threatened to remove Twitter from its app store. Elon Musk has warned that if Apple does this, the world will face tyranny and oppression.
The entrepreneur reluctantly bought social media company Twitter in October for a staggering $44 billion. He was ready to go to war with Apple, which he had hoped would buy Tesla.
The new Twitter boss said on the platform late on Nov. 28: “This is a war over the future of civilization. If America loses freedom of speech, then our future is tyranny. “
Musk plans to completely overhaul Twitter through massive layoffs to make up for his investment in this loss-making platform to some extent.
Tesla’s chief executive tried to cancel the deal he initiated this summer, but he paid the full purchase price in October after Twitter took him to court.
As the first strategic move to monetize the platform, he launched an $8-a-month Twitter Blue premium service subscription plan that included a supplemental certification badge, and the service was, as expected, quickly abused by users.
Musk wants to turn Twitter into a super app, similar to a global version of Tencent’s WeChat, and bigger than WeChat. Almost all internet users in China use WeChat, which allows everything from booking concert tickets to paying for groceries.
If his revamp is successful, Musk and other deep-pocketed investors will be able to earn a commission on each sale.
Musk’s Apple Problem
Under Apple App Store rules, Apple takes a 30 percent cut of any revenue Twitter generates through iOS-enabled mobile devices. Such embedded fees, which prompted Fortnite publisher Epic Games to take Apple to court, are now reason enough for Musk to go to war with Apple.
Musk accused Apple of taking down the ad on Twitter, so he accused Apple executives such as Tim Cook of “hating free speech.”
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted on Nov. 28 in support of Musk’s stance: “Apple is a threat to freedom around the world. Apple has an illegal monopoly on app distribution, and they take advantage of this Monopoly to control speech in America.”
However, billionaire Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, disagreed, slamming Musk for his habitual grandstanding.
“We don’t know what free speech is like on Twitter because you’re both judge and jury,” he posted.
Apple was Twitter’s largest advertiser in the first quarter, with ads worth $48 million, or more than 4% of Twitter’s revenue. (Apple isn’t alone in suspending advertising on Twitter. About half of Twitter’s 100 largest advertisers have already paused, according to Media Matters.)
Musk said on November 28 that Apple threatened to remove Twitter from its app store. If Apple does, it could deal a coup de grace to Musk’s grand plan to overhaul money-losing Twitter.
Therefore, Musk threatened that if Apple really took Twitter off the shelf, he might develop a replacement for the iPhone himself, steal Apple’s customers, and eat away at Apple’s main source of income.
Twitter Comes Under Mounting Criticism
On November 28, international human rights organizations warned that Musk’s decision to streamline Twitter’s content review team could make Twitter a party to mass atrocities in other countries, such as India, because artificial intelligence can’t recognize words written in Hindi, Marathi, etc. Hate speech in local languages such as Patriotic or Tamil.
Gujarat, one of India’s most economically developed states, is due to start local elections this week, where the Hindu supremacist movement VHP has threatened to repeat the 2002 massacre of Muslim residents.
“We’re not talking about hurting feelings, we’re talking about preventing dangerous genocidal hate speech,” Senmoki Sandra Rajan, executive director of Equality Labs, told reporters on November 28. It only takes four hours for a tweet to turn into a mass atrocity.”
This week, The Guardian reported that a video of a terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, was uploaded to the platform and widely circulated, but Twitter did not identify it as harmful content. After being reminded by the government, The platform just removed it. (Fortune Chinese website)
Translated by: Liu Jinlong
Reviewer: Wang Hao
Elon Musk warned the world faces nothing less than cruelty and oppression if Apple makes good on its alleged threat to drop Twitter from its app store.
The entrepreneur, who reluctantly purchased the social media company in October for an eye-watering $44 billion, is preparing to go to war with the very company he once hoped would acquire Tesla.
“This is a battle for the future of civilization. If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead,” the new owner posted on his platform late on November 28.
Musk is attempting a root-and-branch restructuring of Twitter complete with mass layoffs in the hopes of eking out a return on his investment in the loss-making platform.
This summer the Tesla CEO had attempted to wriggle out of the deal he initiated, only to back down and pay full price in October after Twitter took him to court.
In his first strategic move to monetize the platform, he rolled out an $8 per month subscription plan for its premium Twitter Blue service that included a complementary verification badge that users quickly began to abuse, as widely predicted.
Musk hopes to turn Twitter into a super app—a larger, global version of Tencent’s WeChat used by virtually every Chinese netizen at some point in the day for transactions ranging from booking concert tickets to paying for groceries delivered.
If successful, Musk and his wealthy clique of coininvestors could yet earn a fortune by pocketing a commission on each transaction.
Musk’s Apple problem
Under the App Store rules, Apple gets a 30% cut of any revenue Twitter generates through iOS-enabled mobile devices. This embedded fee has prompted Fortnite publisher Epic Games to take Apple to court and is now cause enough for Musk to tweet he is going to war with the company.
Musk has accused Apple of pulling its advertising on Twitter, arguing its executives like Tim Cook must therefore “hate free speech.”
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney offered his backing to Musk’s stance on November 28, tweeting: “Apple is a menace to freedom worldwide. They maintain an illegal monopoly on app distribution, they use it to control American discourse.”
However, fellow billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was less sympathetic and fired back at Musk’s habitual grandstanding.
“We have no idea what free speech on Twitter is because you are judge and jury.” he posted.
Apple was Twitter’s biggest advertiser in the first quarter, accounting for more than 4% of the latter’s revenue through its $48 million worth of ads. (Apple is not the only one to pause spending. According to Media Matters, roughly half of its top 100 advertisers have done so as well.)
Should Apple pull Twitter from its app store—a threat Musk claimed on November 28 it had made—it would deal a potentially lethal blow to his ambitious turnaround plans for the loss-making app.
Musk has therefore threatened to develop his own alternative to the iPhone that could siphon customers away from the company’s cash cow if it follows through on its alleged threat.
Twitter facing mounting criticism
On November 28, international human rights groups warned his decision to eviscerate the company’s content moderation team risked making Twitter a party to mass atrocities in foreign countries like India, where artificial intelligence is incapable of detecting hate speech sphirins read in local, Maritime language, Mar. or Tamil.
Regional elections are set to kick off this week in Gujarat, one of its wealthiest states, where the Hindu supremacist movement VHP has threatened a repeat of the 2002 pogroms against its Muslim inhabitants.
“We’re not talking about…hurt feelings, we’re talking about the prevention of dangerous genocidal hate speech,” the executive director of Equality Labs, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, told reporters on November 28. “It just takes four hours from a tweet to go into a mass atrocity in the Indian context.”
This week The Guardian reported Twitter removed freshly uploaded footage of the Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand circulating on the platform only after the government alerted the company, which had failed to recognize the content as harmful.
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