February 7, 2023

BITE OF THE APPLE: Elon Musk jousts with Apple CEO in clash of tech titans

BITE OF THE APPLE: Elon Musk jousts with Apple CEO in clash of titans

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Elon Musk is being roundly mocked on Twitter after a pair of tweets suggesting that companies withdrawing their ads from Twitter — or, to be more specific, Apple — must hate free speech.

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His desperate attempt to get the attention of Apple CEO Tim Cook, and draw his supporters’ attention to the company, comes alongside the reveal of just how much Twitter relied on the company’s ad buys.

Musk tweeted out a complaint about Apple, saying that the company “has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter,” and asking, “Do they hate free speech in America?” He followed it up with a second tweet, tagging Cook, and querying, “What’s going on here?”

Twitter users both dragged him for the reeking desperation in his tweets, and used Twitter’s existing options to add context so that his tweet now carries additional information, including that Apple’s advertising agency is advising its companies to pause spending on Twitter, and that choosing how one spends one’s advertising dollars is, in fact, an act of free speech.

Musk has good reason to panic, though — Apple was Twitter’s top ad buyer in the first quarter of 2022, making the loss of their revenue significant.

Plus, it seems, the company is also threatening to drop the Twitter app from their app store, which could mean the loss of millions of users who aren’t invested enough to side-load the app or access the site in a browser instead.

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According to The Washington Post:

“In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48 million on ads on the social network…Apple’s spending accounted for more than 4 percent of Twitter’s revenue that quarter.”

You can see Musk’s tweet to Cook, amended to include the aforementioned relevant information, below.

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Cook’s company has responded publicly in an update to last week’s Apple Insider post explaining why ad agency Omnicom Media Group is avising its clients (including Apple) to pause ad buys on Twitter temporarily:

“Specifically, the ad agency is concerned about not just impersonation but also layoffs in Twitter trust and safety teams, resignations of executives responsible for FTC compliance, and more,” Apple Insider wrote.

In fact, it seems Musk had the opportunity to directly address these issues and failed to do so.

Omnicom says they’ve reached out to Twitter and the social media giant has failed to respond, perhaps due to the massive employee exodus.

Apple’s closing remarks seem to sum up Musk’s problem plainly:

“It’s not clear why Musk doesn’t see that Apple choosing to not advertise on the platform is Apple exercising its right to free speech. Twitter is not entitled to advertising dollars from any source, nor is it required to enable Musk’s with advertising dollars for any reason.”

Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.

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