‘I will make an alternative phone’: Musk shrugs at threat of Apple and Google boot

Billionaire Elon Musk has been rattling all kinds of cages since his acquisition of Twitter and Friday he put two of the giants of Big Tech on notice as he teased the possibility of “an alternative phone.”

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has been making strides in his mission to protect free speech online and the record has shown that the gatekeepers don’t share the same absolutist mindset as Musk. With smartphones relying on Apple or Google for access to applications, those companies have shown their willingness to remove platforms that upset the status quo for progressives as Parler had in 2021.

With that in mind, podcaster and former OANN host Liz Wheeler made a suggestion that “If Apple & Google boot Twitter from their app store, [Elon Musk] should produce his own smartphone. Half the country would happily ditch the biased, snooping iPhone & Android. The man builds rockets to Mars, a silly little smartphone should be easy, right?”

Some few hours later, the entrepreneur made clear his position on that front and replied, “I certainly hope it does not come to that, but, yes, if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone.”

Days after the breach of the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021, Parler was removed from the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store for so-called “objectionable content” before subsequently being kicked out of the web hosting services provided by Amazon. At the time, the move was supported by claims that “the calls for violence propagating across Parler violated its terms of service and that Amazon is unconvinced that the service’s plan to use volunteers to moderate such things will be effective.”

In a New York Times op-ed, former head of trust and safety at Twitter, Yoel Roth, harkened back to those actions when he wrote, “Failure to adhere to Apple’s and Google’s guidelines would be catastrophic, risking Twitter’s expulsion for 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.”

During his departure from the platform, Roth contended, “the calls from the app review teams had already begun.”

Like Musk’s poll to reinstate the account of former President Donald Trump, the billionaire tweeted a question before Thanksgiving asking users if the platform should “offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?”

After more than 3 million votes, over 72 percent agreed and the billionaire wrote, “The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” which translates to, “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”

 

Just prior to Musk’s response, Wheeler began a poll of her own asking, “Would you switch to a tELONphone? Vote yes or no with your best pun for a name below.” Halfway through the one-day poll, nearly 100,000 people had voted with favorability, eking out opposition 53 to 47 percent.

Users reacted with suggested names like:

The general consensus among those who supported the idea was that they would do so in a heartbeat and, like Wheeler’s initial premise, one user added, “Well a Musk phone would have twice the power, cost half as much, and work anywhere on Earth. Why even ask the question?”

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Kevin Haggerty

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