Tesla+Twitter go toe-to-toe against Apple in battle over ‘free speech’
Outlines for such an emerging scenario were drawn on Monday when Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently bought the social media platform Twitter, unloaded against Apple in a series of tweets, accusing it planning to jettison Twitter from its App store, thereby “censoring free speech.”
“Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” Musk said in one tweet although there was no formal announcement to that effect from Apple.
He then added, “Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” followed by “Did you know Apple puts a secret 30% tax on everything you buy through their App Store?”
That was cue for Musk supporters to urge him to challenge Apple’s dominance of the smartphone market by getting into the phone manufacturing business, a possibility Twitter’s new CEO has teased before. Dozens of Musk fans pledged to dump their Apple products if Twitter was turfed out of the App store, action that would devastate the social media platform.
Critics of Musk and his selective free speech campaign taunted him for picking a fight with Apple, arguing that it was well within Apple’s rights to check untrammeled hate speech masquerading as free speech. They accused Musk of allowing toxic trolls, neo-nazis, and racists to return to Twitter in the name of free speech. They also mocked him for attacking Apple while tweeting with an iPhone.
Musk though attempted to frame the fight in broader terms, tweeting, “This is a battle for the future of civilization. If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead.” But his critics argued that Apple was within its rights to reject a platform “overrun with crypto-scammers, neo-fascists and racists.””Frontloading a fight with @tim_cook with specious nonsense isn’t going to work. Why? For one, he’s not a manic toddler hopped up on Twinkies and weaponry cosplay. Plus, no advertiser like to spend their marketing money in Thunderdome of toxic asininity,” noted Kara Swisher, a prominent tech industry analyst, amid growing disquiet in liberal circles at what they see as the return of the hate to Twitterm but which the right wing sees as free speech.
Apple has used its market dominance to reject apps it sees as parlaying lies and fomenting unrest, most notable ejecting Parler, a social networking site considered by the right wing to be alternative to Twitter when it was considered left-liberal bastion before Musk’s takeover.
“They’re ok with near-slave labor manufacturing but if you try to provide a fair and civil place for discourse, that’s evil. They never allow engagement of politics outside the currently accepted regime orthodoxy. Pure tribalism.” one Musk supporter raged, referring to Apple’s conciliatory approach to manufacturing in China.
But Musk critics argue that Twitter discourse is anything but civil despite pledges to cleanse it, and instead the new CEO is welcoming back incendiary dregs who had been swept out of the platform in the name of free speech.
“You aren’t protecting free speech, you’re freeing hate speech.
And most people hate that,” one Musk critic observed, while another noted that Musk and Tesla too had softballed China given their business interest.
Apple remains the world’s largest company in terms of market cap, valued at $ 2.25 trillion; Tesla has lately lost some of its sheen and currently has a market cap of $572 billion.