Please, Elon, I want to see the spectacle


In this corner, in the blue trunks, it’s ELON MUSK. In the other corner, in the rainbow colored trunks, it’s APPLE. Who will win?

Elon Musk claims that Apple has threatened to “withhold” Twitter from the iOS App Store for unknown reasons. The news follows a tweet where Musk said Apple had “mostly stopped advertising” on the platform and a poll asking whether Apple should “publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.” Apple did not immediately comment on Musk’s claim.

The news follows much more subtle signs of mounting tension between Apple and Musk-owned Twitter. Musk has criticized Apple’s App Store fee for in-app purchases, dubbing it a “hidden 30% tax” on the internet. And Apple App Store boss Phil Schiller deleted his Twitter account following Musk’s takeover, shortly after Donald Trump’s account was reinstated.

In a November 15th interview with CBS News, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “they say that they are going to continue to moderate. I’m counting on them to continue to do that.” Musk, however, has pledged to loosen Twitter’s moderation guidelines and floated the idea of a mass unbanning of suspended accounts.

Twitter has long tested the boundaries of Apple’s App Store moderation — which has successfully pushed Discord, Tumblr, and other services to either hide potentially offensive content (typically adult content) or ban it altogether. Twitter remains one of the only large platforms to still allow adult content on its app, and a recent editorial by former Twitter executive Yoel Roth revealed that it’s sparred periodically with Apple over content like racial slurs and the hashtag #boobs.

Apple has every right to refuse to advertise on Twitter. This is a pathetic whine from a guy who doesn’t understand free speech.

I’m not keen on a big tech company using its clout to tell smaller companies what they’re allowed to do — but while I deplore choking off adult content, I approve of pressuring social media to block racial slurs. There’s a great big gray area right there.

But…Apple is a trillion dollar company, flush with cash, and at the height of their power. Twitter is a company that’s losing money hand over fist, and was recently bought out by an idiot who is busy gutting the place. I don’t have to prefer one over the other, because if Musk decides to go up against one of the biggest tech giants in the world with his flailing, fading company, I know what the outcome will be.

He’s also such an ass that I’ll enjoy watching the steam roller crush him.

Comments

  1. wzrd1 says

    He’s got another fail in progress.
    Researchers are having an extremely difficult time trying to find tweets about Chinese protests, Twitter being flooded with bots posting porn, escort ads, gibberish and general spam throughout the platform.
    He’s successfully turned a raging dumpster fire into a massive shit fire and he’s got the stirring stick by the wrong end.

  2. mond says

    Wow, the entitlement is just dripping off that tweet.
    Equating a reduction in advertising as hatred of free speech.
    Also a bit of Jingoism as if free speech outside America doesn’t exist/matter.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    Back when I was as defender of capitalism I would often tell left-wing critics that “If you don’t like what a company is doing, you don’t have to buy their products! That’s why private, for-profit, institutions are morally superior to the government that forces you to purchase their services–often which they have a legal monopoly on. You can tell a business “no!”

    Evidently, capitalism has changed somewhat since I abandoned it.

  4. gijoel says

    Help! Help! A rich, white guy is being repressed. Come see the violence inherent in the system. /s

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    Musk has criticized Apple’s App Store fee for in-app purchases, dubbing it a “hidden 30% tax” on the internet.

    Why won’t Tesla give me a car for free? It’s not F-A-I-R!

  6. billseymour says

    Akira MacKenzie @3:

    … capitalism has changed somewhat since I abandoned it.

    As near as I can tell, what passes for capitalism these days is pretty much what Adam Smith was railing against in The Wealth of Nations.  I haven’t yet abandoned the ideal, but I understand when folks in this and other blogs rail against “capitalism” in the sense of “the current bunch of kleptocrats and their zero-sum game”.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    Brendan Nyhan

    “Apple’s spending accounted for more than 4 percent of Twitter’s revenue that quarter.”
    47D chess!
    RT @faizsays@twitter.com
    NEW: Documents show why Apple pulling its Twitter ads is devastating for Elon Musk: In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was Twitter’s top advertiser, accounting for nearly $50M in revenue
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/

  8. Snarki, child of Loki says

    “what passes for capitalism these days” for the GOP, is a rhetorical stick to beat up dirty fucking hippies, and anyone else that stands in their way.

  9. hemidactylus says

    I use Apple. I’m not 100% fanboi but don’t despise them. This looming spectacle where they pancake Muskrat is greatly improving my impression of them.

    Because the yacht-bridge thing I was hating on Bezos plus those vanity penis rocket launches, but I’m hating Bezos much less than Musk now. Good job Elon! Winning…

    As for Apple there was this rumor recently that may have been just a mirage:
    https://9to5mac.com/2022/11/28/apple-buying-disney-nope/

    But that adds to their mystique as the much needed behemoth antihero that crushes the “goat boy”:

  10. silvrhalide says

    Like watching Bambi Meets Godzilla. If Bambi was a balding and entitled and unlikeable man baby.

    (Yes, I recognized the artwork.)

  11. drsteve says

    There’s a joke to be made here about boomers always having trouble finding their spectacles.
    8-|

  12. says

    “Unknown reasons” my ass. The app store sells to kids as well as adults, and NO ONE wants their kids exposed to hate speech and bullshit in a store (online or in meatspace) that kids are allowed to visit. It’s the same very-well-known reason as Safeway refusing to stock Playboy or the Daily Stormer (the Trumplicking tabloids are bad enough).

  13. heffe7 says

    Wait…
    Advertising in the U.S.A. == free speech ???
    Oh, sorry. Yes. I forgot where I lived for a second… Duh.

  14. says

    @#12, Raging Bee:

    Actually, the App Store policy on this stuff is a very legitimate gripe. Apple has parental controls built into iOS and the App Store. They really ought to declare a new category for social media apps, with a few subcategories for how strongly they are moderated, and institute a set of tests which are described publicly and applied evenly to all apps which seek to be in that category. Instead, they have a very unclear set of rules which are applied unevenly (the stated objections to the Tumblr app, for example, demonstrably caused the Twitter app to fail as well, but Tumblr’s app was repeatedly rejected while Twitter’s was not). The idea that nobody can have unfettered social media on mobile because some kids somewhere might accidentally get exposed to something “adult” — whether that’s language, thought, sexuality, or whatever — is really kind of insidious; it’s how we get “Don’t Say Gay” laws. It’s also entirely ridiculous since iOS devices come with a built-in web browser which can access the full version of any given social media site. Somehow, seeing nudity or reading Naughty Words in a third-party app is unacceptable but it’s okay if it’s done through Safari (or Firefox).

  15. Kagehi says

    @14 Unfortunately, this, “Allowing big, paranoid, companies to dictate what is deemed ‘adult’ has led to things like naturism, non-sexual nudity, posts about things that look/sound like they might be adult, but involve things like breast cancer, etc. to all be locked behind filters, both behind the apps in the store, when/if they are even allowed, and on the websites that content would have otherwise been found on in the first place (would have, because in some cases an over zealous desire to ride themselves of actual bad actors has resulted in the end of those that where not breaking the rules, but certain demographics insisted where the same thing somehow, also getting banned).

    We like the idea, obviously, of every platform banning neo-Nazis, under “free speech”. But, that scythe cuts both ways, depending on who is deciding what needs to be legally banned by said companies. And.. often the guidelines, even when they seem clear, are not enforced “as written”, with bans/blocks of people happening that “technically” never broke the rules, as written, but who have no financial recourse to sue them for it (or prevent it from just happening the very next time they post, or even to something they posted 10 years ago).

  16. Kagehi says

    I should also note that, often, the guide lines are “not” clear at all, only vaguely suggesting that some content might be fine – yet, it never is, somehow getting the content creator strikes/bans anyway, even though they didn’t seem to violate anything, and, for example, Youtube, has this insane policy of not providing a time stamp, or clear information on “what” the violation actually was, on some mad grounds that, “If we told you, you might stop doing that bad thing, and it would be harder to block you next time.” – which.. I would think is sort of the point – to inform you of how you screwed up, so you stop doing it? But, apparently no.

  17. Dunc says

    I should also note that, often, the guide lines are “not” clear at all, only vaguely suggesting that some content might be fine – yet, it never is, somehow getting the content creator strikes/bans anyway, even though they didn’t seem to violate anything

    Part of the problem here is that the incentives are asymmetric – there are penalties for not being restrictive enough, but basically no penalties for being overly-restrictive. The inevitable result is that the preference will always be for taking content down.

    Youtube, has this insane policy of not providing a time stamp, or clear information on “what” the violation actually was, on some mad grounds that, “If we told you, you might stop doing that bad thing, and it would be harder to block you next time.” – which.. I would think is sort of the point – to inform you of how you screwed up, so you stop doing it?

    It would also make it easier for bad-faith actors to figure out how to game the moderation system.

  18. KG says

    We like the idea, obviously, of every platform banning neo-Nazis, under “free speech”. But, that scythe cuts both ways, depending on who is deciding what needs to be legally banned by said companies. – Kagehi@16

    Do you think the right, when it has the power to ban, will decide whether or not to ban whatever speech it dislikes based on whether neo-Nazis were previously banned? Because if you do think so, presumably you haven’t heard about “Critical Race Theory” or “Don’t Say Gay”.

  19. StevoR says

    @ ^ KG & #16. Kagehi : A big distinction needs drawing between free speech and hate speech here i reckon.

    @15. John Morales : No, I hadn’t heard about that or at least don’t recall hearing about it.

    @ The Vicar : “The idea that nobody can have unfettered social media on mobile because some kids somewhere might accidentally get exposed to something “adult” — whether that’s language, thought, sexuality, or whatever — is really kind of insidious;”

    Empahasis added.

    Whether it’s on mobile, desktop, laptop or whatever is any social media or freezepeach ever totally unfettered? Follow up question – If it is, what usually happens then?

  20. rorschach says

    I’d be careful with Apple. Their main production factory is in China afaik, and they are about to go up shit creek without a paddle, with Covid cases, and those protests. 6 million Iphones less than expected, last I heard. They have other problems than advertising on Elno’s Nazi cooker messaging site.

  21. Kagehi says

    #20 StevoR

    See… The problem here is that what we call “hate speech” a bloody lot of them call “free speech”, so yeah, such a distinction would be lovely, but its kind of in the same category as listening to some twit argue that, “slavery in the Bible wasn’t actually slavery and Biblical slavery was better than everyone else at the time.” – by utterly ignoring the reality that it damn well was real slavery, especially if you where a foreigner, or the “child” of one of those “nice kind” of slaves (who where automatically slaves at birth, and had no ‘debt’ to pay off for freedom), and that literally everyone in the region had nearly the same laws on the subject, of which the Bible’s version was one of the most unfair and unreasonable – i.e., not at all the best.

    But, you will never get any of them to admit this is the case, By the same token, people spreading hate speech, because they think its merely, “telling people the truth”, don’t give a damn that we think it is hate speech. To them, its only “hate” if its “false”, and they will never admit that their hate speech is false.

    So… while we can, as a society, decide that some things are definitely beyond the pale, and thus hate speech, this definition only works as long as whom ever is in charge of enforcing it agrees on that, majority agreed, definition. If they don’t, its meaningless if 51%, 60%, 80%, or even 99.99999% of everyone else agree that, “X is hate speech.”, the people in charge don’t give a damn that everyone else disagrees with them.

    And.. sadly, due to the power, wealth, influence, and, despite how all these things should disqualify them from being deemed “endangered”, or “persecuted”, or “unfairly treated”, held by certain groups, who use that power, wealth, and influence, to push the companies into making policy in their favor, the balance is almost always in favor of the people promoting hate, and against anyone challenging them, or posting content that should otherwise, in a more sane world, never be censored.

    Good example is the person I know that almost got their channel banned for posting CDC information about Covid, as an explanation for why other channels where promoting false claims, and medical misinformation – while the original content, which they where challenging, wasn’t also flagged under the same supposed standards, despite being reported. So.. valid information was censored, because the algorithms flagged it, the supposed “live review” was done by people that didn’t give a damn what the difference was, and refused to unflag it, and may have even supported some of the misinformation, but the account posting misinformation went utterly unchallenged. And, this is just one example of this crap. Some of it is laziness, some of it is the algorithms not working (or possibly working right, ironically, since a lot of cases exist in which AI have spouted insane things, because it was just repeating what every nut job that talked to it previously said, and as such we can’t trust that any AI algorithm isn’t biased against legit content, because the people programing it, unintentionally, taught it to be an idiot, who likes horrible things, and things neutral ones are “dangerous”), but some of it… one has to assume is intentional, or driven by the expectation of advertisers, who seem to be, if anyone, even more terrified of the Moral Minority than media companies.

    Sadly, much like history, definitions are, all too often, defined by whom ever is “winning” at the moment. And.. when it comes to spending money, to make other people, or corporations, do things, the nuts have far too much power, and thus often get to define what is and isn’t “censorable speech”.

    I like to think we are on a crux, and in 20 years or more from now the assholes will have almost totally lost, and a lot of this crap won’t be happening at the level it does. But.. whether or not I will live to see this, or see such a prediction fail completely…. For now though.. I get real nervous when companies start talking about widening their nets, to catch bad guys, because.. all too often, kind of like with those stupid sea nets some company keeps trying to push, it doesn’t just remove the trash, it catches and kills everything else that gets too close to the net – such as marginalized people, people with totally legal life styles, which are deemed fringe, people promoting social changes that are sufficiently popular (according to the company in question), to be worth protecting, etc. I.e., cleaning up the trash, becomes the equivalent of having a robot that collects you pet dog from the back yard, along with the trash bags, and the company response is, “Whoops! Well, it was an old dog anyway, and these things happen some times. Terribly unfortunate, but we literally can’t imagine how to fix it.”

  22. Kagehi says

    Basically.. in short, I think tools need to exist to better protect the people falsely accused, not just punish the people actually doing wrong, and that isn’t happening at all. And, that makes me despair at Youtube, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, or anyone actually doing it right. Too many disingenuous fingers in the pie, from outside influences, and seeming literally no thought, care, or consideration for, “Ok, so what if someone is being constantly harassed by someone flagging their posts as containing violations? Do we even give a damn that this happens, and intend to protect them?”

    And, yeah, I heard the whole argument that, “Bad actors can circumvent… blah, blah, blah.” But, seriously…. if the system can’t adapt, or still catch them – and some flat out just create new accounts over and over, every time they are banned and the companies seem to be unable to do a damn thing about that either, then maybe the system doesn’t actually work, and needs to be rethought? Because… without addressing these issues, the bad guys are still going to figure out how to circumvent the algorithms, they are freaking bad guys. So, what is being accomplished, other than screwing over legit content creators, who don’t have millions of other nuts following them, and a willingness to break, bend, and ignore all the rules, no matter how many times people ban them?

    This is the same sort of problem you get with all zero tolerance things that “honest” people will obey, but no one else does – you have a useless count of how many people you flag, suspend, or ban every month, but.. how the F do you even collect, never mind determine, what percentage of those people are false flagged, falsely accused, falsely blocked, or falsely banned, if an unknown number never freaking come back because they are fed up by the system? Even the people that “know” this is happening don’t have clear count, they just all know people who they followed, or knew personally, or knew through someone else, who dropped out, or worse (some being people trying to get extra money from such content, to supplement what they are not making at work, and suddenly lost it. One even spent 3 month without any income, because they, perhaps stupidly, put all eggs in one basket, and came close to defaulting on their mortgage as a result, because, again, the “algorithm” doesn’t give a damn if its 3 false strikes over 5 years, one of them on a video that was posted ages ago and they don’t even remember, or 3 strikes in 1 week. Its 3 strikes, and an auto-suspension, until the “live people” bother to actually review the content and the issue can be resolved – which may not be possible if the flipping company refuses to actually specify what the F that is, beyond if being somehow violating rules).

    All of these moderation systems, based on no real person being involved, are… horrifyingly broken, and the absurd idea that the bad actors are not looking to find ways to get around moderation anyway, so you can’t tell anyone what the F they did, so they can fix it, is just… INSANE. People making shows for networks don’t have to play by those rules, nor employees, or.. pretty much anyone else, just, “people making content for the internet”.

  23. says

    @#20, StevoR

    @ The Vicar : “The idea that nobody can have unfettered social media on mobile because some kids somewhere might accidentally get exposed to something “adult” — whether that’s language, thought, sexuality, or whatever — is really kind of insidious;”

    Don’t be deliberately obtuse — I obviously meant “unfettered by Apple serving as an unnecessary gatekeeper”. To reiterate: Apple’s rules for their app store are not consistently applied (or else either Twitter’s app would have been gone long ago or Tumblr wouldn’t have had all that trouble), and in the case of social media services they are being hypocritical right from the start since they themselves provide uncensored access to the same services via a built-in app included with iOS. Either they should admit that an adult using their own phone has a right to curate their own experience just as they do with websites, or they should be consistent and lock Safari into some kind of content filtering for all users. (Which, of course, would raise a massive outcry and kill them in the market.)

    @#23, rorschach

    I’d be careful with Apple. Their main production factory is in China afaik, and they are about to go up shit creek without a paddle, with Covid cases, and those protests. 6 million Iphones less than expected, last I heard. They have other problems than advertising on Elno’s Nazi cooker messaging site.

    As opposed to all those Android and PC manufacturers who buy nothing from Foxconn and use parts and assembly from a magical unicorn fairyland where Covid doesn’t exist. Despite the press consistently pretending that Apple is Foxconn’s only customer, basically every tech company uses them either to supply parts or do assembly or both. If Apple is in trouble for the reasons you cite, all the Android and Windows hardware companies are, too.

  24. StevoR says

    Meanwhile as Twitter’s credibility and trustworthiness continues to crash :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-30/twitter-rolls-back-covid-misinformation-policy/101717062

    Twitter has rolled back a policy designed to tackle COVID-19 misinformation on the platform, and its former head of trust and safety has warned the company no longer has enough staff for safety work. The reduction of misinformation measures lends the social media site to the risk of a potential surge in false claims while COVID-19 cases rise in China and some parts of the world. The move also comes amid concerns about Twitter’s ability to fight misinformation after it let go about half of its staff, including those involved in content moderation, under new boss Elon Musk. … (snip) .. (Musk-ed) .. said he planned to set up a content moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints”.

    Source : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-30/twitter-rolls-back-covid-misinformation-policy/101717062

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