Yesterday Apple jumped into the Twitter War on the side of censorship. Elon Musk confirmed that Apple threatened to remove the Twitter App from the Apple App Store – and gave no reason. Musk had already observed that Apple charges a “development fee” of thirty percent of all revenues that any developer takes in through the App Store. Apparently Elon is through cooperating with Apple and has openly declared war upon it.
Elon Musk reports Twitter’s hostility
At 9:45 a.m. PST, Elon Musk noted that Apple had virtually ended all their advertising on Twitter. Then he called out Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, asking him,
What’s going on here?
The developers of a content-sharing app called LBRY thought they knew why.
When Elon asked, “What terms?” LBRY answered:
Then, quoting LBRY’s first tweet, Elon asked,
Who[m] else has Apple censored?
And he got an earful. Including a message from your editor reminding him that Apple and Google both disallowed the Gab Social app. Today, if you want to use Gab on your phone, you must create a browser shortcut.
But some users warned him that this was a fight he couldn’t win. One user said Apple might disallow the app for accessing a Tesla car. Elon Musk essentially dared them to do this.
Then he commissioned a poll asking whether Apple ought to disclose “all censorship actions … that affect its customers.” At time of writing, with three quarters of a million votes cast, eighty-five percent say “Yes.”
Then, at 10:43 a.m. PST, Elon Musk acknowledged the latest threat by Apple.
Immediately thereafter, he quoted another tweet saying that Apple exacts a thirty-percent developer’s fee from any developer seeing more than $1 million annual revenues through its store.
Understandably, Elon refuses. He tweeted an electronically retouched image of an Interstate Highway exit. His message: “Rather than pay the thirty percent, I’m going to war.” (Subsequently he deleted the tweet.)
Will Apple carry out the threat?
Some users doubt that. One user pointed out that Apple still carries the Parler and Truth Social apps.
Another user remembered Elon Musk actually saying he might design and offer a smartphone of his own. This user created a poll asking other users whether they would buy. Fifty-five percent said yes.
One user shared an animated image with a caption rather crudely questioning Apple’s courage. Someone has deleted the tweet, but it still showed up on Elon Musk’s feed, and your editor screencapped it.
Still another user suggested Twitter’s refusal to block coverage of the civil disorder in China might have prompted Apple’s threat.
Then we have this chart showing where employees of Big Tech firms send their political donations. This chart likely came out before Elon Musk took Twitter over.
Gab watches, thinking Elon Musk can only lose
As ever, Andrew Torba watches from the sidelines, indulging in schadenfreude. This image is an example. When Elon Musk worries about Apple throwing Twitter off its App Store, Andrew Torba asks what an App Store is.
They are fully dependent on third-party infrastructure. We are not. We “built our own,” everything. Hosting, email services, analytics tools, ecommerce, payment processing, all of it. We built it all.
All true. The “hosting” includes a server farm that Gab owns outright. Gab lacks only an Internet Service Provider; with that they would be totally independent.
Apple and Google do not allow free speech, so if you stop the censorship they will kick Twitter from both app stores. We already solved that problem and overcame it.
Yes, by coaching users on how to create browser shortcuts. And in any event, desktop and laptop users can access Gab and Twitter with equal ease.
“Nuts” to the censors!
Twitter operates in countries where mass censorship is required by law. They have offices in these countries. They have no choice but to comply with the censorship demands of those countries or risk being shut down, fines, etc.
We understand this very well and have dealt with it, telling those countries to get lost.
Torba refers to an attempt by the German government to fine Gab under the Network Enforcement Act. Torba literally told them “Nuts!” In fact, Gab has no physical structure or staff in Germany.
Then there is the problem of Twitter’s community itself. It skews massively left and thus anti-free speech. If you allow free speech on Twitter again, those people are absolutely going to leave because their fragile worldview can’t handle the reality that free speech brings.
Not exactly. Many leftists users threatened to leave, as most Twitter staff have left. But as Elon Musk gleefully pointed out, most came back – the users, not the staff. Twitter is addictive.
Another problem Twitter has that we don’t: total dependency on ad dollars. Gab’s business model is not 100% dependent on advertising. We have several other revenue streams including GabPRO, the Gab Shop, and GabPay our payment processor.
Elon Musk is working actively to create another revenue stream: premium service. He also announced plans to offer larger video uploads, with monetization, at higher rates than YouTube pays. On the other hand, many of Gab’s Big Tech alternatives are in their infancy.
Where do we go from here?
Elon Musk seems to be serious. And contrary to Andrew Torba’s earlier assessment, Musk now enjoys more support in the Twitter community. This could reflect users who came back to Twitter when he took the helm, or are only now speaking out.
And he’s giving his new supporters fresh reason to support him. He announced his intention to publish the “Twitter Files” having to do with the suppression of the Hunter Biden Laptop Story.
That started an instant debate, recalling the case of Missouri v. Biden. Discovery documents in that case prove positively that Twitter was a State actor.
Actually, User ‘Minister of Silly Walks” might want to remember that the lead plaintiff in the State Actor Lawsuit is Missouri’s newest Senator-elect.
In any event, Elon Musk has already improved Twitter. He talks like a regular user, and tunes in to user concerns. That makes him a better chief administrator than Jack Dorsey or Parag Agrawal ever were.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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