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Elon Musk picks fight with Apple for slashing advertising spend on Twitter

CEO claims platform threatened with expulsion from App Store, asks if device maker hates free speech

Apple is the new target of billionaire Elon Musk's ire after the Twitter owner and CEO outlined his frustrations with the company in a series of tweets about it stopping advertising on the platform and more.

Musk was thrust into the limelight years back due to his other commercial exploits upending space exploration and the car industry, but he is generating even more column inches since buying Twitter for $44 billion.

In his latest moan, the world's richest man complained that Apple is no longer supporting Twitter.

"Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?" Musk wrote.

The legion of Muskettes then lined up to agree, and at the time of writing the tweet had more than half a million likes. Some threatened to ditch their iPhone, while others sounded a different tone.

Apple spent around $131,000 on Twitter ads between November 10 and 16, down from the $220,000 between October 16 and 22, according to Pathmatics.

Musk additionally claimed: "Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won't tell us why." And he retweeted a parody of Apple's 1984 video that was created by Epic Games, the Fortnite developer involved in a spat with Apple over direct payments.

Some 2 million then voted in a poll Musk created, asking if "Apple should publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers." Some 85 percent agreed.

Not content to let it lie there, Musk added: "Did you know Apple puts a secret 30 percent tax on everything you buy through their App Store?"

Apple has indeed come in for criticism for charging a flat commission on paid apps that generate more than $1 million a year, though it's hardly a secret. The company made a concession from January 1, 2021, to charge developers a 15 percent fee on revenue generated below $1 million.

Musk is a showman, but using shame to convince advertisers to return to the platform is an unusual tactic. It seems his declarations that Twitter is a bastion of free speech has caused disquiet among more than a few of the platform's customers.

Companies including General Motors, IPG, Volkswagen, Audi, General Mills, Mondelez, and more have paused advertising with the platform as they wait to see what sort of town hall Twitter will become under Musk.

With the man himself confirming Twitter was losing $4 million a day, and making references to potential bankruptcy, he should probably be trying to win friends rather than alienate them. ®

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