January 29, 2023

UPSETTING THE CART: How the GOP is picking sides in the Elon Musk feud with Apple

UPSETTING THE CART: How the GOP is picking sides in the Elon Musk feud with Apple

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Donald Trump — and Congressional Republicans under his rule — threatened to punish Twitter for their content decisions. Now that another entity, Apple, may distance itself from Twitter over content decisions, one GOP Senator is threatening to legislate punishment for Apple in defense of the social media site.

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And Florida’s Republican Governor (and potential 2024 Presidential candidate) is in agreement.

In a head-spinning move, the right has gone from attacking Twitter to trying to shield the company from the natural consequences of its actions.

As Elon Musk threw a very public tantrum over Apple’s decision to place fewer ads on the site and called out CEO Tim Cook for allegedly warning that the Twitter app might be booted from the App Store, legislators considered more drastic moves.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) says that if Apple makes the decision to delete Twitter over recent issues — which include bigoted content, a severe staff cut that may impose additional tech difficulties and delays, and functional decisions that have already allowed users to impersonate public figures including at least one legislator — he and other Republicans may feel the need to act.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is in agreement, accusing Apple of stifling free speech, and calling for the company to face a Congressional investigation.

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While accusing the Apple CEO of feeling “envious” of Musk and his “massive success as a businessman,” Cotton declared that it would be a “mistake” for the company to make a decision to boot the app from their platform. He warned that a response might include “aggressive” action to regulate the company’s functions.

Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio talk show, Cotton said:

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“I think that would be a very ill-advised decision by Tim Cook and Apple. I understand he may not care for Elon Musk; maybe he’s a little envious of Elon Musk’s massive success as a businessman, but to remove a widely used social media app from Apple’s App Store simply because he has political disagreements with Elon Musk or the direction he’s taking Twitter would simply be inviting aggressive legislative and regulatory action in Washington.”

Apple Insider has already reported on the reasoning for advertising decisions, describing the concerns of the advertising agency Apple uses:

“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.”

Would Congressional Republicans admit, if they held a hearing, that these concerns are legitimate and could reasonably color a company’s decision about exposing their hardware users to the app in question?

Whatever the outcome, it’s likely that the courts would soon become involved

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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