Elon Musk says he'll create an 'alternative' smartphone if Twitter is kicked out of the Apple App Store
Elon Musk says he's willing to build his own smartphone if Twitter is kicked off Apple's App Store.
Apple demands "safety" for users as a condition of apps being on its powerful platform.
With Musk's changes to Twitter's content moderation, it could land outside Apple's rules.
Elon Musk has a simple plan should Apple decide to boot Twitter from the App Store. The billionaire will create his own smartphone.
Musk wrote in a Friday tweet he would "make an alternative phone" to compete with Apple's iPhone if the tech giant ended up blocking Twitter from its powerful App Store.
Since taking over Twitter at the end of October, Musk has made many changes to the platform, including extensive layoffs and firings of personnel, which have led to resignations of executives in charge of data privacy and content moderation. Before he offered to buy Twitter for $44 billion, Musk accused Twitter of undermining democracy by failing to uphold "free speech principles," having earlier called himself a "free speech absolutist."
Musk's stance on content moderation is essentially to allow speech that doesn't violate law. In addition, he is reportedly planning to try to make money for Twitter off of adult content or pornography, similar to the site OnlyFans. Under previous leadership like Jack Dorsey's, content moderation was more deliberate and focused on "safety" for users, banning pornography, hate speech, and promotion of violence. Musk has quickly moved to reinstate numerous users barred for such content, including former President Donald Trump.
Apple has lengthy guidelines for apps, which they need to follow to become and remain available as an app on iPhones and other Apple devices. The leading principle of the guidelines is "safety."
"When people install an app from the App Store, they want to feel confident that it's safe to do so — that the app doesn't contain upsetting or offensive content," the first rule of the guidelines reads.
In a potentially bad sign for Twitter, Phil Schiller, a longtime Apple marketing executive who leads its App Store, last week deleted his Twitter account. Schiller's move came after Musk complained on Twitter about Apple's fees, saying they're effectively "a hidden 30% tax on the internet."
Musk didn't deny on Friday the possibility that his changes to Twitter could get it kicked out of the App Store, but allowed, "I certainly hope it does not come to that."
Correction: November 28, 2022 — An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the site OnlyFans.
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