Apple suspended most of its advertising on Twitter, according to the blue bird app’s new CEO Elon Musk on Monday. Now, Twitter’s chief is asking questions about Apple’s censorship practices to his more than 119 million followers.
“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter,” Must wrote. “Do they hate free speech in America?”
LBRY, a publisher that describes itself as the “bitcoin” of publishing, outlined the company’s own experience with Apple censorship in a response to Musk’s post.
“During Covid, Apple demanded our apps filter some search terms from being returned,” the company wrote back. “If we did not filter the terms, our apps would not be allowed in the store.”
The response caught Musk’s attention.
“Who else has Apple censored?” Musk wrote in a quote tweet to amplify the post.
Musk revealed a few minutes later that Apple threatened to suspend Twitter from its app store, “but won’t tell us why.”
Giving Twitter the boot over ambiguous standards would closely resemble the company’s decision to strip Parler, a pre-Musk free speech alternative to Twitter, from the Apple app store last year. Days after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, Apple colluded with other tech conglomerates to take Parler offline. Apple and Google barred Parler from being downloaded on their devices while Amazon stripped the platform from its web hosting services.
As nationwide protests broke out in China over the weekend threatening to undermine the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under President Xi Jinping, Quartz revealed that Apple plugged a crack in the regime’s “Great Firewall” that dissidents exploited to communicate. Apple’s latest iOS update released in November placed new restrictions on “AirDrop,” a file-sharing feature on iPhones that allows users to share files directly from one phone to another (and consequently under the nose of government monitors). The update erased unlimited use for Chinese users only.
“Rather than listing new features, as it often does, the company simply said, ‘This update includes bug fixes and security updates and is recommended for all users,'” Quartz reported. “Hidden in the update was a change that only applies to iPhones sold in mainland China: AirDrop can only be set to receive messages from everyone for 10 minutes, before switching off. There’s no longer a way to keep the ‘everyone’ setting on permanently on Chinese iPhones.”
Apple’s new update to benefit the CCP is neither a recent development nor an isolated incident. According to a report from The New York Times last year, Apple routinely compromises privacy and security practices to appease communist leaders.
“Apple’s compromises have made it nearly impossible for the company to stop the Chinese government from gaining access to the emails, photos, documents, contacts and locations of millions of Chinese residents, according to the security experts and Apple engineers,” the Times reported.
In the United States, Apple remains one of the “Big Four” tech giants with a backdoor hand in censorship. Eliminating Parler from its app store over the company’s refusal to capitulate to demands from Silicon Valley was one example. By picking an apparent fight with fellow tech giant Twitter, whose new CEO has pledged to restore some kind of an open forum on the internet, Apple is showing its censorship regime to be even more brazen.