Mark Zuckerberg joins Elon Musk’s attack on Apple

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaving The Merrion Hotel in Dublin with Nick Clegg (right) after a meeting with politicians to discuss regulation of social media and harmful content (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Archive)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaving The Merrion Hotel in Dublin with Nick Clegg (right) after a meeting with politicians to discuss regulation of social media and harmful content (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Archive)

Mark Zuckerberg has seemingly joined Elon Musk’s attack on Apple, over the way the iPhone giant runs its App Store.

Both social media bosses have criticised the fact that Apple has a strong control over what is allowed onto iPhones and other devices, and suggested that it has abused that power.

Mr Musk began this week by attacking Apple for the fact that it takes a cut of digital purchases made using an iPhone, that it has stopped advertising on Twitter, and suggested it had threatened to kick Twitter out of the App Store. Neither he or Apple commented on that latter claim, but other social networks have been removed from the App Store in the past for failing to properly moderate content.

Then Mr Zuckerberg joined that attack, suggesting that Apple’s “platform control” allowed them to advance their own interests. He said that the fact “companies have to deliver their apps exclusively through platforms that are controlled by competitors — there is a conflict of interest there”.

He also said that Apple is the only company “that is trying to control, unilaterally, what apps get on the device and I don’t think that’s a sustainable or a good place to be”. He pointed to the differences with the Microsoft and Google operating systems, which allow apps to be “sideloaded” without going through their respective app stores.

Apple has repeatedly defended its control over the App Store, and says the cuts it takes are used to fund that moderation. It has claimed that it is able to keep unsafe and other problematic apps from being downloaded, and that sideloading would weaken that safety.

Mr Zuckerberg did not explicitly align himself with Mr Musk in the remarks, which he made during the New York Times’s ‘Dealbook’ conference. Hr also seemed to separate himself from some of Mr Musk’s content moderation decisions, saying that he thinks “ industry gets more interesting when people take some different approaches”.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has had a troubled with Apple in recent years. The company’s rollout of “App Tracking Transparency”, or ATT – a new feature that makes it harder for developers to track people as they use their phone – has significantly decreased advertising revenues and Meta has claimed that it has lost billions as a result.

Mr Musk, however, appears to be warming to Apple. He tweeted on Wednesday that he had been to visit its chief executive, Tim Cook, at Apple’s campus – and that the threat to pull Twitter from the App Store appeared to be the result of a misunderstanding.