Supporters of Apple’s decision to pull advertising on Twitter say it is merely Apple operating in the free market. This is quite a disingenuous argument, as we shall see.
“Apple is free to advertise or not advertise as they see fit,” their advocates argue. The idea that liberals suddenly want to preserve the free market is risible. Rather, their intent is to damage a social media platform which is no longer sympathetic to their politics. Furthermore, Apple would not make such a decision in a vacuum; their motives are relevant. So why did Apple make this decision?
Recall in the beginning of the year, Google and Apple colluded to remove Parler from their downloading services because Parler was supposedly complicit in Jan 6th. It was a new level of tech collusion and censorship, all done in the name of “safety.”
The China Distraction
According to The Federalist, Apple has accommodated the CCP (the Chinese government), therefore undermining whatever moral authority they might claim vis-à-vis Twitter. As The Federalist puts it, it is Apple’s practice to “appease communist leaders.” For those who doubt the tech censorship: Ironically, Google itself censors The Federalist, so one can hardly find their article via Google search about…censorship. This is the vicious circle when it comes to technology, censorship, and collusion.
Back to The Federalist’s criticism of Apple: It isn’t even necessary to bring the CCP into the argument, given that the censorship practices in our own country rival China’s at this point.
Tucker Carlson also made this point, taking Apple to task for prohibiting the use of Air Drop in China for dissidents opposing the government. Apple CEO Tim Cook has praised China’s efforts to “lift people out of poverty.” Cook explains his philosophy on doing business in China quite frankly:
“I think that we have a responsibility as a business to do business in as many places as we can…You have to get your head around, when you’re operating in places outside of the US, or any place, that they have their own laws.”
Tucker asked why the media shows no interest in Apple’s seemingly taking the side of an authoritative government against would be freedom fighters. “It just wasn’t news in The New York Times,” he complained.
The answer is that the media does not particularly care, so long as Apple is on the right side of politics in the US. After all, from the media’s perspective, there are no Republicans in China to attack. For conservative media and its consumers, China is an irresistible bogeyman, which is somehow all the more enticing given its irrelevance to our own problems.
Frankly, we should not really care about the CCP as long as we have our own grave censorship problems. Certainly, Apple’s conduct vis-à-vis China is a good example of hypocrisy in our media and tech companies. Yet harping on about the CCP is a distraction. Yes, we know that Apple and our media are hypocrites. But what is needed more urgently is a concise argument against tech collusion against Twitter and other mediums of free speech in America, right now…here.
We see Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz push Tim Cook on the issue of China and its “totalitarian regime.” Honestly, which issue are Republican senators more concerned about: China’s freedom of speech or ours? Better that they show their support for Elon Musk than trouble themselves with the CCP.
Musk’s Concern with Apple
At issue is Apple’s “making moderation demands,” according to Musk, which could interfere with Musk running Twitter the way he sees fit. Moderation policies were also at issue in the case of Parler. Parler refused to acquiesce to Apple’s moderation demands; and well, you don’t hear much about Parler since it was effectively shut down by big tech, including Apple and Google.
Tech website Mac Rumors speculates that Twitter could meet a similar fate if it fails “to adequately handle inappropriate content.” Yet there was plenty of “inappropriate content” prior to Musk’s tenure. It was perhaps just content that was not specifically offensive to leftist sensibilities. That is the point: this is all arbitrary.
The NY Post describes the situation thusly:
“... leftist media have been decrying Musk’s attempts to restore free speech protections as if they are a threat to civilization.”
Don’t forget it was the Post whom Twitter censored during the 2020 election with the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Musk remains defiant.
Further evidence of collusion among the tech companies and elites: Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety, gave an “implied threat” in an oped for the NY Times in which he insinuated that if Musk did acquiesce to Apple and Google (i.e., more censorship), they could and should ban him from their app stores.
Simply stated, if Google and Apple take Twitter off their app stores, it will be difficult for Twitter to do business. Of course, you can always just enter twitter.com into your URL. In some ways, Twitter works better when it’s not on the app. The app is quirky, let’s just say.
The tech companies and other political activist groups are upset that Musk has restored Trump’s account (though Trump doesn’t have the freedom of action or common sense to use it). They are also irked that Musk has reportedly restored the accounts of tens of thousands of other formerly banned users. Yet Musk’s approach is much more transparent than that of his predecessors.
On one side you have Musk, broadening the scope of what can be said online. On the other side, you have tech companies, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The AP, elite journalists, and other cronies using every form of leverage they have to force Musk’s hand. A big part of this leverage in this high stakes game is advertising and app store access. Musk remains defiant.