Elon Musk said Apple Inc. AAPL, -2.63% is threatening to remove Twitter Inc. from its App Store and criticized the tech giant for what he called censorship. He also said the iPhone-maker has withdrawn most of its advertising spending from the social-media company.
In a series of tweets Monday, Mr. Musk asked if Apple supports free speech and posted a poll asking users whether Apple should publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers. Mr. Musk also asked Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook in a tweet, “What’s going on.”
“Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” Mr. Musk said Monday. In another tweet, he asked: “Who else has Apple censored?”
In other tweets fired off on Monday morning, he called Apple’s App Store fees a “secret 30% tax,” and ran a poll asking if “Apple should publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.” He also claimed that Apple has pulled most of its advertising from Twitter.
Apple’s App Store is the only way to distribute software to iPhones. If the Twitter app were pulled, the social network would lose one of its main distribution platforms, although the service is available for the web.
In addition, Apple requires iPhone app makers to pay between 15% and 30% of any digital goods sold through their apps. Musk has said one of his plans for Twitter is to raise billions of dollars from subscriptions, such as Twitter Blue, which is offered through the iPhone app. If it were to grow to Musk’s goals, Apple would collect hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
Apple has faced challenges to its App Store fees and policies from companies such as Spotifyand Epic Games, but Musk is no stranger to attracting worldwide attention, and may represent Apple’s biggest challenge to its control over iPhone app distribution so far.
Apple declined to comment about Musk’s tweets.