Is the world ready for the E-phone? Supporters of Twitter CEO Elon Musk took to the platform to encourage him to launch a phone and app store that wouldn’t censor users like other tech companies– specifically, Apple. Such a venture would be Musk’s latest and boldest move in the war against censorship, which has been a prominent point of his Twitter takeover.
Musk took to Twitter last Monday to call out Apple for allegedly threatening to withhold Twitter from its App Store, a move the company has employed with great success to knee-cap right-leaning social media platforms such as Parler. Since then, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Musk have kissed and made up. Cook reportedly assured Musk that Apple poses no threat to Twitter, but one may never know when that could change in the current political environment.
Without question, Twitter has been the largest, most mainstream social media platform to face threats of Big Tech censorship since Musk’s highly anticipated acquisition of the company was completed on October 27.
“Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” Musk wrote after a series of Tweets criticizing Apple for its decision to cut back on advertising on the platform and its censorship of other users.
Musk asked: “Does [Apple] hate free speech in America?” Immediately, responses came flooding in from companies and users who had experienced censorship from the Big Tech giant.
Crypto Company LIBRY chimed in, claiming: “During Covid, Apple demanded our apps filter some search terms from being returned. If we did not filter the terms, our apps would not be allowed in the store.” LIBRY elaborated, explaining that the objectionable terms included “anything related to Covid, especially vaccines or human origins of the virus.”
After receiving a flood of responses about Apple’s censorship of Twitter and others, Elon asked users whether Apple should make transparent all actions of censorship against their users. The poll received an overwhelming majority in support of the proposition.
Big Tech censorship of dissenting or heterodox narratives has gone unchecked for years. Now these companies are struggling to handle Musk’s blunt criticism of their discriminatory practices. Not only does he criticize them, but he also manages to remain focused on facts and the nonpartisan virtues of free speech. His opponents’ rebuttals are a sad display of political bias—bias they’ve thinly disguised for years.
It’s no secret that Americans are tired of this politically motivated censorship and sick of paying money to corporations that hate them and everything they believe in. More than half of Americans say they keep their real political opinions to themselves for fear of discrimination.
In the past, very-online liberals have dismissed conservative complaints of censorship online, sneering: “build your own social media platform, then!” Well, we saw what happened with Parler after January 6, 2021, when Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores. Musk could change the dynamic.
“If Apple & Google boot Twitter from their app stores, @elonmusk should produce his own smartphone,” tweeted former OANN host Liz Wheeler. “Half the country would happily ditch the biased, snooping iPhone & Android.”
Musk quickly replied: “I certainly hope it does not come to that, but, yes, if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone.”
Despite the apparent happy resolution with Tim Cook, maybe it’s come to that.
One could argue it’s long overdue. Anyone who has experienced censorship firsthand, which at this point seems to be practically every conservative on social media, is hungry to support conservative companies. If “Freedom Phone” could garner even moderate support, a smartphone product from the man who revolutionized electric vehicles, transformed space travel, and sold flamethrowers just for fun is sure to do well.
When it comes to the companies and products that have a monopoly on the way we communicate, free speech can’t be an afterthought. More and more Americans realize the danger of a few Big Tech companies with identical political agendas controlling the means of communication. The lengths to which Big Tech will go to uphold their monopoly is highlighted by their response to Twitter’s newly founded free speech values. But as Musk himself put it, what’s happening is nothing less than “a revolution against online censorship in America.”
Big Tech is clearly not ready for the overwhelming support this revolution has.