Communist Agenda? Apple, Google And Amazon Could Deplatform Twitter For Allowing ‘Free Speech’

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(Fast Company) Assuming Twitter can survive the whiplash of being yanked back and forth by new CEO Elon Musk—yet another round of layoffs roiled the sales team Monday morning—the social media platform is shaping up to face a new challenge: possible headbutting with Apple and Google. That is, if Musk’s laissez-faire approach to moderation ends up putting Twitter at odds with developer policies on the major app stores, Musk’s platforming of hateful content could get Twitter itself deplatformed.

The Apple App Store, Google Play, and even smaller players like the Amazon Appstore, have language intended to protect users from discrimination, bullying, harassment, and other kinds of objectionable content. As Twitter veers more in the direction of freewheeling right-wing social apps like Truth Social and Parler, the company could be on a collision course with those app stores’ gatekeepers.

Musk’s approach toward moderation has been inconsistent, to say the least. Most recently he’s argued that Twitter’s new policy is “Freedom of speech, not freedom of reach.” This past weekend, he restored the accounts for Donald Trump and Kanye West, the latter of whom was blocked for going on antisemitic rants. West immediately celebrated his return by tweeting, “Shalom : ).”

Musk reactivated other controversial accounts, too, such as right-wing satire site Babylon Bee’s and podcaster Jordan Peterson’s, both suspended for posting anti-trans comments. Musk previously said he’d hold off on making changes to Twitter’s policies until a “content moderation council” was in place to help him.

“Even as he criticizes the capriciousness of platform policies, he perpetuates the same lack of legitimacy through his impulsive changes and tweet-length pronouncements about Twitter’s rules,” Twitter’s own former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, wrote Friday in a New York Times op-ed following his resignation. “Musk has made clear that at the end of the day, he’ll be the one calling the shots.”

Among the ideas Musk has reportedly batted around: introducing some sort of OnlyFans-style subscription service that would seem to violate bans on sexually explicit material found in many places. Meanwhile, Musk’s layoffs have culledthe number of full-time and contract moderators employed to track harmful content and enforce Twitter’s rules against it.

Twitter doesn’t break down how many people use the website version versus the smartphone app. But Roth warned that expulsion from the Apple and Google app stores “would be catastrophic.” He pointed readers to Twitter’s most recent (and final!) annual report to shareholders, informing them that the release of new products “is dependent upon” and “can be impacted by” the gatekeeper teams at those app stores. “Certain decisions may harm our business,” the report notes.

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