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Monday, December 09, 2019

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What do I care about more? Do I care about my iPhone, my iPad, my MacBook and the two Mac desktops — or do I care more about the feed on my Twitter app? Oh, and I forgot to mention my Apple Watch.

Guess the answer.

I used to greatly admire Twitter owner Elon Musk for his championing of electric vehicles. That Tesla (and the rocket company SpaceX) made him the world's richest man was fine with me. No problem here with billionaires who build great things and pay their taxes.

But Musk can't possibly think that he can win his fight against Apple, the world's most valuable company. Even if that were a possibility, he's not going about it the right way. Of course, that's assuming his motive is to indeed win and not just Gorilla-glue his name to the daily headlines.

Let's accept everyone's arguments at face value. In the name of free speech, Musk is opening Twitter to unmoderated bigots, vaccine deniers and other assorted creeps. That's his right. Twitter is his toy to play with or break.

Apple, on the other hand, wants to keep the worst nastiness out of its users' faces. It has thus banned from its App Store sites that do not meet its standards for moderating content. That is Apple's right.

And it's the right of Apple and other big corporations to not advertise on the burning dumpster Twitter is becoming. Apple also has the right to demand a 30% cut from software developers wanting to put their wares on Apple devices — just as Twitter can charge users $8 a month for blue checkmarks.

At the end of the day, what is Musk's weapon, really? A social media app?

"This is a battle for the future of civilization," Musk tweeted grandiosely. "If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead."

To which former Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted, "It's twitter man. Not WW3."

Musk overpaid $44 billion to buy Twitter. Apple, on the other hand, is worth $2.3 trillion. (The oil giant Saudi Aramco has a market value of $1.9 trillion.)

Investors, meanwhile, have limited patience with CEOs who get distracted from their core business and come off as jerks. Who is taking care of Tesla? And aren't Musk's provocations turning off would-be buyers of his electric cars?

This has been a tough year for many stocks, but for Tesla's, it's been miserable. As of late November, Tesla shares have lost nearly 50 percent of their value. The 2022 return on Apple shares (which includes dividends) was down only 18.31 percent.

Dan Ives, a tech analyst, has called Musk's Twitter fight with Apple "the gift that keeps on giving for the Tesla 'bears,'" investors who bet on the stock price going down.

Apple world tends to be a gentle place. Its inhabitants undoubtedly like the company's moves to protect user privacy. Apple also wins applause for banning misinformation about COVID-19 — something Twitter has just said it would now allow.

By the way, it's simply not true that only liberal social media gets the Apple green light. Anyone who has used Apple products to follow political opinion knows that conservative views are easy to find.

It would appear that all the money in the world couldn't buy Musk a sense of humor. And that's what he's going to need if the day comes that Apple drops Twitter from the App Store and the one billion iPhone owners start forgetting that Twitter ever existed.

Apple sells real stuff, things that need to be recharged. Twitter does not. It's just an app that the delete button can make disappear. Musk really should have stuck with cars.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

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Elon Musk

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In recent weeks, 50 of the top 100 advertisers have either announced or seemingly stopped advertising on Twitter. These advertisers have accounted for nearly $2 billion in spending on the platform since 2020, and over $750 million in advertising in 2022 alone.

In addition to advertisers that have seemingly stopped all advertising on Twitter as of November 21, there are an additional seven advertisers that appear to be slowing the rate of their advertising on the platform to almost nothing. Since 2020, these seven advertisers have accounted for over $255 million in spending on Twitter, and nearly $118 million in advertising in 2022.

  • An asterisk indicates a company has issued a statement or was publicly reported as stopping its ads on Twitter and subsequently confirmed. Otherwise, companies identified on this list are “quiet quitters,” based on a Media Matters analysis of Pathmatics data. These companies were previously advertising on Twitter, but then stopped for a significant period of time following direct outreach, controversies, and warnings from media buyers.
  • Abbott Laboratories
  • Allstate Corporation
  • AMC Networks
  • American Express Company
  • AT&T
  • Big Heart Petcare
  • BlackRock, Inc.
  • BlueTriton Brands, Inc.
  • Boston Beer Company
  • CA Lottery (California State Lottery)
  • CenturyLink (Lumen Technologies, Inc.)
  • Chanel
  • Chevrolet*
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.*
  • Citigroup, Inc.
  • CNN
  • Dell
  • Diageo
  • DirecTV
  • Discover Financial Services
  • Fidelity
  • First National Realty Partners
  • Ford*
  • Heineken N.V.
  • Hewlett-Packard (HP)
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • Inspire Brands, Inc.
  • Jeep*
  • Kellogg Company
  • Kohl's Department Stores, Inc.
  • Kyndryl*
  • LinkedIn Corporation
  • MailChimp (The Rocket Science Group)
  • Marriott International, Inc.
  • Mars Petcare
  • Mars, Incorporated
  • Merck & Co. (Merck Sharp & Dohme MSD)*
  • Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook, Inc.)
  • MoneyWise (Wise Publishing, Inc.)
  • Nestle
  • Novartis AG*
  • Pernod Ricard
  • PlayPass
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • The Kraft Heinz Company
  • Tire Rack
  • Verizon
  • Wells Fargo
  • Whole Foods Market IP
  • Yum! Brands

Despite these advertising losses, Elon Musk (who acquired the platform in late October) has continued his rash of brand unsafe actions — including amplifying conspiracy theories, unilaterally reinstating banned accounts such as that of former President Donald Trump, courting and engaging with far-right accounts, and instituting a haphazard verification scheme that allowed extremists and scammers to purchase a blue check. This last move, in particular, opened the platform up to a variety of fraud and brand imitations.

(Snack food company Mondelez International has also reportedly stopped advertising on Twitter citing concerns about hate speech on the platform. However, ads for two of Mondelez’s major brands – Oreo and Ritz – have recently been running at high volume, accounting for approximately $600,000 in ad spending since November 9.)

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.