[The Epoch Times, December 03, 2022](Reporter Zhao Ziji compiles and reports) Although Twitter’s new owner Musk and Apple CEO Cook met on November 30, it was easy to resolve a possible dispute between Twitter and Apple. “Battle”. However, in the face of Musk’s vision of “free speech” for more people, the dispute over speech censorship may continue to arise in the future.
Musk lost half of its top advertisers within a month of taking over Twitter at the end of October. It forced him to find ways to increase revenue by increasing subscription services, reduce reliance on advertising, and further focus on content creation and operation. But Musk’s plan, more or less, could put Twitter on a collision course with two of the biggest technology companies in the United States right now: Apple and Google.
boycott of big advertisers
According to a report released on November 22 by the non-profit monitoring organization Media Matters for America, since 2020, 50 of the top 100 advertisers on the Twitter platform have spent about $2 billion on advertising. Zhou “has announced or appears to have stopped advertising”. These companies will bring Twitter more than $750 million in advertising revenue in 2022 alone. The report is based on the most recent data available through Nov. 21.
Among them, companies such as Chevrolet, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Ford and Jeep, which have made statements or have been publicly reported, have recently stopped advertising on the platform. The report also said companies including AMC Networks, AT&T, BlackRock, Chanel and Kellogg appear to have quietly stopped advertising on Twitter.
The day after Media Matters released its report, Twitter announced the launch of a new program — “Performance Advertising Solutions That Drive Results and Relevance.” Twitter said the launch was aimed at providing the company with a stronger return on investment while providing consumers with more “relevant ads.”
Musk has complained about Twitter’s advertising losses. Musk once tweeted: “If I agree with the opinions of those political oligarchs, they will not take away Twitter’s advertising revenue, and they will not kill Twitter.”
“They broke the deal,” Musk said.
Musk also said in the latest tweet sent on November 28 that Apple has basically stopped advertising on Twitter at present. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s tweet.
In addition, there are seven companies that appear to be slowing down their Twitter ads. These companies have spent more than $255 million on the platform since 2020, and nearly $118 million since January 1 of this year.
tensions are brewing
In addition to the boycott of advertisers, Musk’s move to generate revenue through subscription services has not been so smooth. The Twitter “Blue Gougou” authentication service, which was originally $8 per month, was stopped due to fake authentication by fake accounts.
Musk’s plan to offer paid blue verified badges has also led to confusion and accounts impersonating major companies and personalities, which has led some advertisers to shy away from the social network, notably Eli Lilly, because of a verified fake tweet Falsely stated that the company would provide free insulin.
According to the analysis, one of the biggest risks facing Musk’s “Twitter 2.0” vision is that his plan may violate the application rules of Apple and Google, which will affect the company’s operations and even cause its software to be kicked out of the application store.
Tensions are already brewing. Musk complained in a tweet last week about the App Store fees Google and Apple charge companies like Twitter.
“Apparently app store fees are way too high due to the Apple/Android (iOS/Android) duopoly,” Musk tweeted. “This is the hidden 30% tax on the internet.” In a follow-up post, He flagged the Justice Department’s antitrust division, which is reportedly investigating app store rules.
He complained that Apple and Google charge 15% to 30% for in-app purchases, which could eat into much-needed revenue from the $8-a-month Twitter Blue subscription.
There have been signs that Twitter has seen an increase in harmful content since Musk took over, putting the company’s app at risk. In October, shortly after Musk became Twit, a wave of online trolls and bigots flooded Twitter with hate speech and racist epithets.
The fake accounts were organized on 4chan and then made their way onto Twitter with anti-Black and anti-Semitic monikers. Twitter has suspended many of these accounts, according to the nonprofit Network Contagion Research Institute.
Changes in Commissions and Subscription Revenue
Twitter and Apple have been partners for years. In 2011, Apple deeply integrated tweets into its iOS operating system. Tweets from the company’s official Twitter account are regularly posted under the account of Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple advertises new iPhones and its big launch event on Twitter.
But that relationship looks set to change as Musk gets most of his revenue from subscriptions.
Twitter reports $5.08 billion in revenue for 2021. If half of that comes from future subscriptions, as musk says, then hundreds of millions of dollars will end up going to apple and google, a small sum for apple but potentially a huge blow for twitter .
One of Apple’s main rules is that digital content purchased by users within iPhone apps, including game currency, clothing for avatars, or premium subscriptions, must use Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism, and Apple bills users directly. Apple takes 30% of sales, drops to 15% after a year, and pays the rest to app developers.
Companies including Epic Games, Spotify and the Match Group lobbied against Apple and Google’s rules as part of the Coalition for App Fairness. Microsoft and Metaverse have also filed briefs in court criticizing the rule and made public remarks against the App Store.
One option for Musk is to take an approach similar to Spotify: offer a lower $9.99 price on the web, subscribe without paying a commission to Apple on the web, and then users only need to log in to their existing accounts in the app. Users who subscribe to the premium version in the iPhone app will pay $12.99, which is equivalent to paying Apple.
Or Twitter could go further, like Netflix stopped offering subscriptions through Apple entirely in 2018.
Musk could sell Twitter Blue for cheaper on the company website, tweeting to his more than 118 million followers that Twitter Blue was only available on Twitter.com. That might work, and might help cut any payments to Apple.
But it also means Twitter will have to remove many of the options for in-app subscriptions. Users often make purchasing decisions within the app. Apple has detailed rules stipulating which links users can go to make purchases when an app notifies them of other payment methods.
Netflix’s app tells users: “You can’t sign up for Netflix within the app. We know it’s a hassle.”
Apple and Google, which control the App Store for Apple’s iOS system and the Play Store for Android, respectively, may forcibly remove an app if they believe it violates its content review and harmful content rules.
This has happened before. In a letter to Congress last year, Apple said it removed more than 30,000 apps from its app store with objectionable content in 2020.
Roth, the former head of trust and safety at Twitter, said the app store-related issues could hit Twitter “catastrophically”. He noted that Twitter cited app review as a risk factor in its filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Apple and Google can take apps down for a variety of reasons, such as the app’s security concerns and whether the app complies with platform billing rules. App reviews can delay release schedules and wreak havoc when Musk wants to roll out new features.
There is precedent for completely banning apps. Apple and Google banned the mobile app of the much smaller and conservative-leaning site Parler in 2020. The decision on whether Apple removes an app is made by a panel called the Executive Review Board, which is chaired by Schiller. The Apple executive recently deleted his Twitter account.
While Apple approved Trump’s social networking app, Truth Social, in February 2022, it took longer for the Google Play Store to approve it. The company told CNBC in August that the social network lacked an “effective system to moderate user-posted content” and therefore violated Google’s Play Store terms of service. Google eventually approved the app in October, saying it was required to “remove objectionable posts, such as those that incite violence.”
Apple and Google have been careful about banning apps like Parler. They point to specific violations, such as screenshots of offending posts, not just general political reasons or pressure from lawmakers. On a social network as large as Twitter, it is often possible to find “offending” content that has yet to be discovered.
Still, Apple and Google are unlikely to have an uphill battle over the definition of harmful information. That could eventually invite public scrutiny and political debate. Rather than threatening to remove programs entirely, app stores may simply delay approving new versions of apps.
Twitter’s future features could also piss off Apple and Google and prompt them to take a closer look at how the platform currently operates.
According to The Washington Post, Musk has talked about allowing users to upload user-generated videos as a “paywall,” which former employees believe would lead to the feature being used for adult content. (A paywall, a paywall, is a method of limiting access to content through purchase or paid subscription.)
Apple’s app store has always banned pornography. The policy dates back to the company’s founder, Jobs. Google also bans porn-centric apps.
Apple’s guidelines say: “Apps that are user-generated and end up primarily for pornographic content or services…should not exist in the App Store. Such apps may be removed without notice.”
Musk is often in the fight, not away from it. Now he has to decide whether it’s worth competing with two of Silicon Valley’s most valuable and powerful companies for more than 30 percent of revenue, and Twitter’s ability to manage certain aggressive tweets. ◇
Responsible editor: Xu Xiaohui