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Elon Musk says Apple has pulled Twitter ads: ‘Do they hate free speech?’

Elon Musk said on Monday that Apple Inc has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter, the most high-profile company to pull ads from the social media platform over concerns about content moderation policies under its new owner.

The move aligns the iPhone maker with a rising list of firms from General Mills Inc to luxury automaker Audi of America that have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the billionaire’s US$44 billion buyout last month.

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?,” Musk said in a tweet. He later tagged Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking “what’s going on here?”

What’s going on here @tim_cook?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022

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Musk said “yes” in response to a user question on whether Apple was threatening Twitter’s presence in the App Store or making moderation demands.

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Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The world’s most valuable firm spent an estimated $131,600 on Twitter ads between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, down from $220,800 between Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, had said earlier this month that Twitter had seen a “massive” drop in revenue and blamed activist groups for pressuring advertisers. Ad sales account for about 90 per cent of Twitter’s revenue.

The platform has in the past few days reinstated the account of former U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as comedian Kathy Griffin and U.S. House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The Trump reinstatement prompted a coalition of civil rights activists to say last week that they were urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the platform.

At a presentation for advertisers in May, some ad agencies and brands were already skeptical on concerns that Musk would scale back content moderation and security protection on the platform.

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