Apple and Google were the boss of Twitter

From Yoel Roth's "I Was the Head of Trust and Safety at Twitter. This Is What Could Become of It." in Friday's New York Times:

While Twitter has been publicly tight-lipped about how many people use the company’s mobile apps (rather than visit Twitter on a web browser), its 2021 annual report didn’t mince words: The company’s release of new products “is dependent upon and can be impacted by digital storefront operators” that decide the guidelines and enforce them, it reads. “Such review processes can be difficult to predict, and certain decisions may harm our business.”

“May harm our business” is an understatement. Failure to adhere to Apple’s and Google’s guidelines would be catastrophic, risking Twitter’s expulsion from their app stores and making it more difficult for billions of potential users to get Twitter’s services. This gives Apple and Google enormous power to shape the decisions Twitter makes.

Apple’s guidelines for developers are reasonable and plainly stated: They emphasize creating “a safe experience for users” and stress the importance of protecting children. The guidelines quote Justice Potter Stewart’s “I know it when I see it” quip, saying the company will ban apps that are “over the line.”

In practice, the enforcement of these rules is fraught.

In my time at Twitter, representatives of the app stores regularly raised concerns about content available on our platform. On one occasion, a member of an app review team contacted Twitter, saying with consternation that he had searched for “#boobs” in the Twitter app and was presented with … exactly what you’d expect.

My take: It's all over. Twitter is circling the drain.


  1. Timothy Smith said:
    Gruber’s latest Talk Show has a great discussion of Twitter.

    November 19, 2022
  2. Fred Stein said:
    Yes, bankruptcy is inevitable.

    Next question is lawsuits from employees, users, and advertisers. That may include potential security breaches with potential financial impact, due to loss of staff. And there’s $16B in debt.

    In theory corporate law and bankruptcy will protect Elon. But.??

    November 19, 2022
    • David Drinkwater said:
      I think that, if you look at the “extreme hard work” expectations that Musk is setting, you may find that workers will claim a “hostile work environment”. Where I work, that is an HR buzzword that can cause trouble both up and down the management chain.

      I’m fearful that Musk is screwing the pooch. I think all this has certainly hurt my investment in Tesla.

      November 20, 2022
  3. Brian Loftus said:
    Great test of the Mythical Man-Month. I have never owned a stock of Tesla but I would certainly not bet against Elon. Time will tell.

    November 19, 2022
    • Steven Philips said:
      Time will tell, but I’d be rather inclined to bet against him. He seems to rush rather blindly into things. With Twitter it seems to be his firings without proper notice. And probably other things. He doesn’t seem to get advice (or listen to it if he does.) He seems to leave himself open to legal action.

      November 19, 2022
  4. Rodney Avilla said:
    Twitter, our present town square (or at least it wanted to be), was controlled by one side of the political spectrum, giving them power and control over public discourse. Musk wanted to change that. Problem is, many, if not most employees, worked for Twitter because they were in agreement with that scenario. Many of those employees are not interested in working for a company that treats both sides of the political spectrum equally. Why would any company, including Apple, want employees who are opposed to their primary goals? To change that would be incredibly difficult without, and here’s the rub, destroying the company. Many are very upset about loosing that control, and will do anything they can to see that Musk fails. If it does fail, each side will blame the other. Can Musk do it? I too, am hesitant to bet against Musk, yet I tend to agree with Mr Philips’ view of him. He better sit down, and ask some smart people some important questions, and come up with a plan. Personally, not sure he will do that. Disclaimer: I do not use twitter. Ever.

    November 19, 2022
  5. Bart Yee said:
    It’s hard to understand exactly what Musk was trying to get himself into with his Twitter bluster and bravado prior to making this ill-advised (but who’s gonna tell Musk he’s making a mistake?) buyout offer. Then getting himself embroiled in the trial, going back and forth, could have backed out with maybe a negotiated few billion in fees. Then does the buyout, spends a ton of his own cash (and tanking TSLA), and proceeds to create a shitshow of how not to initiate cuts, handle employment issues ignoring HR, state and Federal laws (sign of narcissism – laws and rules don’t apply to me – I alone can fix this, sound familiar?).

    So he’s tosses half his workforce, alienates another half with his ongoing ultimatum, and creates such havoc that most of the remaining advertisers, including Apple, stop using the platform. Now, as I write this, he says “HE” will reinstate certain banned persons, already having gutted or dismantled any shred of moderation. This is likely a ploy to get new Twitter membership and maybe even get TFG to invest in Twitter if he had any spare dough. Otherwise, it appears Musk will be spending much more of his and his investor’s money on driving Twitter further into disuse and abandonment.

    IMO, he’ll probably like being King/authoritarian of “free speech”, unfettered by a BOD, upper
    Management, middle management, and a hand selected/survivor group of sycophants. He might even make a bid for Truth Social, seeing as they are woefully underfunded and mismanaged too, and merge them.

    And on top of all this, he’s still CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and expected to follow those same employment rules, manage personnel, and act in the companies’s and shareholders best interests. Would he take them private too if he thought it too burdensome to be beholden to BOD and shareholders, since he has so
    much control?

    I’m sure he’s “brilliant”, at least in his own mind, but so far, Twitter, IMO, unmasks some pretty disturbing Musk thought processes. If I were a TSLA shareholder, I’d think long and hard about the future under Musk’s control.

    November 19, 2022

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