Elon Musk claims Apple has halted most of its advertising on Twitter and threatened to withhold the social media app from its App Store without explanation.
The world’s richest person, who finalised his $US44 billion ($A66 billion) takeover of Twitter at the end of October after spending months trying to wriggle out of the deal, made the accusations in a series of tweets on Monday morning.
“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” Musk first tweeted. He then tagged Apple CEO Tim Cook and asked: “What’s going on here?”
Musk asked Twitter users “who else” Apple had censored and then launched a yes/no poll: “Apple should publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.”
Among other tweets about free speech and levies on App Store purchases, Musk wrote: “Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why.”
News.com.au has contacted Apple for comment.
Companies avoid Twitter after Musk takeover
Musk has sparked global outrage after aggressively sacking thousands of employees and announcing a “general amnesty” for all suspended accounts, which means some of the most controversial right-wing figures will return to Twitter.
Apple’s media agency Omnicom Media Group recommended earlier this month its clients, which also include McDonald’s and PepsiCo, pause spending on Twitter due to “brand safety concerns”, according to an internal memo obtained by The Verge.
A slew of big advertisers have already turned their backs on Twitter, including General Motors, Volkswagen, Pfizer and General Mills.
Many other companies have deactivated their accounts.
Last week, Musk responded to a user asking what he would do if Apple and Google dumped Twitter from their app stores.
He said while he hoped it would not come to it, he would “make an alternative phone”.
Apple can charge companies like Twitter for in-app purchases, meaning the tech giant could take up to 30 per cent of the money from Twitter Blue’s monthly subscription fee.
In Musk’s tweets about Apple on Monday, he shared a meme with two options “pay 30%” or “go to war” – a car labelled “Elon” drove towards the war option.
Companies hurt in chaotic Twitter change
Musk’s first big change to the platform was Twitter Blue, an $US8 ($A12) subscription that allows anyone to get the famous blue tick that was previously only for verified companies, celebrities and public figures. It turned to chaos.
Twitter was soon inundated with fake accounts parodying businesses and well-known people such as George W Bush, Pope Francis and even Musk himself.
Among the jokes were a string of accounts impersonating major companies, with some fake tweets sparking a major stock crash.
One of the biggest was caused by a faux account of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co, which tweeted that: “We are excited to announce that insulin is free now”.
That “announcement” immediately saw the firm’s share price tank by a whopping 4.37 per cent, or $US16.08 ($A24.13), given most of its revenue is generated by insulin sales.
That equated to a staggering $US15 billion-odd ($A22.5 billion) loss to the firm’s market value, and prompted a frantic tweet from the real company account informing the public the first tweet was false.
Twitter was forced to halt the Twitter Blue subscription service as moderators struggled to keep up with the onslaught of fake tweets and accounts.
The US Federal Trade Commission, a consumer protection watchdog, has said it is tracking recent developments at Twitter with “deep concern”.
“No chief executive or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees,” FTC’s director of public affairs Douglas Farrar said.