Apple Threatens To Remove Twitter But Not CCP-Run TikTok

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Elon Musk says Apple Inc. is threatening to withhold Twitter from its App Store. Apple has not disputed the claim from over 24 hours ago.

Apple has also pulled advertising on Twitter in response to Musk’s purchase of the service in October. Put simply, Apple hopes to use its monopolistic power to strongarm Musk into stringent content moderation.

Apple appears frightened that Twitter users can now exercise free speech online. Such a thought prompted executive Phil Schiller, who heads the App Store, to delete his Twitter account last week.

But while Apple aches at the thought of an internet open for robust dialogue, it has shown no such concerns over TikTok, a Chinese-controlled social media service.

In fact, Apple rejected a letter from FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr last summer that warned TikTok “poses a serious national threat” and thereby stated Apple should stop widely distributing the app.

Carr’s letter appears below:

So while Apple threatens to cripple Twitter, it has ignored the much more threatening TikTok platform. In essence, Apple fears free speech more than a communist government actively seizing U.S. user information. And that’s precisely the mission TikTok has undertaken.

Leaked documents from the summer established that the ByteDance-owned TikTok had access to U.S. data from at least September 2021 through January 2022. The details are ominous.

TikTok executives have long stated that only U.S. employees had access to U.S. user data. However, BuzzFeed unearthed over 80 internal documents to learn that U.S. staffers do not know how to, and do not have permission to, access personal data. The documents confirm that engineers in the U.S. have to rely on Chinese staffers to provide them with user information.

Specifically, there’s a Beijing-based engineer who purports to have access to “everything.” Beijing staffers refer to said engineer as “Master Admin” as he scours over the private information of users in all countries.

“Everything is seen in China,” a member of the TikTok Trust and Safety department said in June, via BuzzFeed.

In addition to posing a natural security threat, China also built what the tech industry considers the most sophisticated algorithm to date. Twitter might allow users to practice wrongthink. Meanwhile, TikTok aggressively exploits vulnerable, often young users.

We explained TikTok’s weaponization of users in a column earlier this year:

“TikTok has built a business model around how much time a user spends on its platforms and how frequently he or she returns. Based on its findings, TikTok stooges then stop at nothing to make each user addicted to its service.

“Once TikTok finds a user’s individual weaknesses — such as, per a report, #breakup, #sad, #depression — it latches on to build a customized feed to exploit that person’s emotions.

“So if you have a TikTok account, know that its algorithm finds your vulnerabilities and then uses them to keep you coming back for more. In doing so, TikTok strips away your independence because you relinquish control over your satisfaction to the mercy of likes, comments, and playtimes without realizing it.

“This system means that watch time is key. The algorithm tries to get people addicted rather than giving them what they really want,” says Guillaume Chaslot, the founder of Algo Transparency.

Bobby Burack, OutKick.

By comparison, Twitter allowed The Babylon Bee back online to produce satire.

Apple’s threat to Musk is no small deal. Its App Store is crucial to the distribution of an app. A service could not maintain reach without an app readily available for iPhone and iPad users.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is correct in saying that removing Twitter from the App Store would be a “raw exercise of monopolistic power.” Tuesday, DeSantis suggested such a move would call for a congressional response.

Apple’s reaction to Musk’s purchase is politically-driven, a means to wield power over the sole social media service daring to run afoul of conventional censorship policies.

Yet here’s Apple, the leading tech company in the U.S., hounding Twitter while disregarding the overt threats TikTok poses to U.S. users. 

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

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