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Elon Musk avoids feud with Apple by meeting Tim Cook

    SAN FRANCISCO — In a series of tweets Monday, Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, accused Apple of sabotaging his social media company by cutting back on advertising and threatening to remove the Twitter app from the App Store.

    Wednesday seemed to have avoided any potential feud.

    On Twitter, Mr. Musk released a video showing him walking around the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif., walking past a meditation pool on Wednesday. While the video did not show who Mr. Musk was walking with, Apple employees said they saw Mr. Musk with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. Mr Musk said in a later message that he and Mr Cook had discussed their dispute.

    “We have resolved the misunderstanding that Twitter might be removed from the App Store,” Musk said in a statement tweet. “Tim was clear that Apple never considered this.”

    Apple declined to comment. Mr Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

    The meeting seemed to sidestep what was threatening to become a major feud between two tech giants. Musk was targeting Apple’s control of the App Store, the sole distributor of apps on more than a billion iPhones worldwide. His complaints — about Apple’s app approval policies and practice of taking a share of app sales — raised an issue raised by other companies, such as Spotify and Epic Games. Lawmakers and regulators around the world have scrutinized Apple’s power over software distribution.

    Under Mr. Musk, who took over in October, Twitter’s content policies were unclear, potentially putting the app at odds with Apple, which reviews every app distributed through the App Store.

    Mr. Musk has reinstated former President Donald J. Trump’s account, which was banned following the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol, and has said he will offer amnesty to accounts suspended by the former leadership of the US Capitol company. But Apple’s rules prohibit hate speech or content. The company also monitors apps to make sure they’re using the in-app payment system to collect subscriptions, allowing Apple to collect as much as 30 percent of sales.

    In the past, Apple has raised concerns with developers defying those policies and delaying approval of their apps for distribution. Musk said Monday that Apple had threatened to do the same to Twitter without telling the social media company why.

    Mr. Cook gave Mr. Musk the tour ahead of a planned trip to Washington, where he will meet several Republican lawmakers, including Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. A conflict with Mr Musk threatened to complicate those meetings as he accused Apple of censoring “free speech” by restricting the distribution of Twitter on iPhones – a Congressional issue where Republican leaders are concerned that Silicon Valley companies suppress conservative views.

    mr. Cook has used charm offensives before. After Mr Trump criticized Apple in 2018 for manufacturing its products abroad, Mr Cook traveled to Washington to meet with him and joined a White House advisory panel. Mr. Trump later dropped his criticism of Apple, praising Mr. Cook as a “great manager because he calls me and others don’t.”

    David McCabe reporting contributed.