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How to block iPhone apps from using push notification tracking to spy on you

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Apple Privacy: How To
Apps are spying on you with push notification tracking. But you can block them today.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

Any time a company sends a push notification to an iPhone, its application can gather information about the user, including their location, according to security researchers. Meta and TikTok reportedly use push notification tracking, and many other companies do it, too.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution for users to protect their privacy and keep apps from spying on them.

Apple stops advertising on X after Elon Musk’s antisemitic post

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X and Apple logos
Apple paused advertising on the service formerly known as Twitter amid another controversy touched off by Elon Musk.
Photo: X/Apple

In the wake of Elon Musk posting his support for an antisemitic comment on X, Apple reportedly paused advertising on the social-networking service that Musk owns.

Disney, IBM and Lionsgate have also supposedly stopped advertising on the service formerly known as Twitter.

Elon Musk wants Tim Cook to lower App Store fees for Twitter creators

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Elon Musk
Musk wants Apple to not charge its fees on the money X creators make.
Photo: NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affair/Wikipedia CC

Elon Musk wants creators on X to make more money. And for this, he plans to talk to Apple CEO Tim Cook about lowering the App Store fees for creators on Twitter X.

The billionaire wants Apple to only charge its 30% commission on the amount that X keeps, not the money a creator receives.

Change the X icon back to Twitter

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Give me back the bird!
Everyone’s favorite bird icon is back… kind of.
Image: Garrett Heath/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you miss the Twitter icon, you’re not alone. But there’s good news: You can easily change the app’s new X icon back to Twitter’s blue bird on your Home Screen by using a shortcut.

While it’s too late for Elon Musk to backtrack on many of the questionable business decisions he made since buying Twitter, you can at least patch over this latest one using my free downloadable Shortcut.

If you’re still using X, née Twitter, you might want the bright blue bird back on your Home Screen. I’ll show you how to get it.

How to use Threads, the new (new (new)) Twitter replacement

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The new, new new Twitter? From Instagram?
No, but seriously this time… I think.
Image: Meta/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Threads is the new social media platform with Twitter-like features, coming from Instagram. As on Twitter, you can make short text posts with a few attached images or video, write replies, quote posts, repost them, etc. But you’re not starting fresh again: You sign in with your Instagram account and instantly access the same network of people who you follow and all your followers.

Since Twitter’s slow-burn downfall began last year, a few hot new replacements have been propped up, with varying degrees of staying power. Mastodon is the open-source, volunteer-driven network that courted the nerdy types in the tech community — but no one else. Bluesky, backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has been scaling slowly on an invitation system. Post, T2 and countless others were the fashion of the day but burned out fast.

Threads has three great things going for it: It’s incredibly easy to join, it’s built off your existing network of friends, and it’s very simple to use. If you liked Twitter, you’ll like Threads. While I don’t like Threads as much as Mastodon, its future interoperability with the open-source alternative means we can all be happy on whatever service we choose and stay in touch.

Meta’s new Threads app kicks Twitter while it’s down

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Meta’s new Threads app kicks Twitter while it’s down
Threads sure looks a lot like Twitter.
Image Meta

Meta just launched Threads, a new text-based social networking service that goes head-to-head with Twitter. Meta’s Facebook and Instagram have always competed with Twitter, of course, but Threads does so directly. The two apps are nearly identical.

Twitter has struggled since being acquired by Elon Musk in 2022, and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg clearly sees an opportunity to supplant it.

Judge blocks government from pushing social media censorship

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Social Media
A federal judge blocked federal government contact with social media sites.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

A federal judge in Louisiana issued a broad injunction Tuesday limiting federal government contact with social media sites over what the Biden administration may see as disinformation spreading out of control.

The ruling is one of many upcoming that frame a fight over the constitutionality of curbing social media’s influence in light of the First Amendment’s right to freedom of expression.

The internet won’t stop ragging on Vision Pro’s price tag

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Apple Vision Pro price tag: $3,499.
That $3,500 price tag certainly got people's attention.
Photo: Apple
WWDC23

The $3,499 price of Vision Pro, the long-awaited AR/VR headset Apple rolled out at WWDC23, startles some people. You can find audience reaction videos out there with audible gasps when the price was announced (including among Apple employees, some posts claim). And mainstream headlines are joining in, too.

And of course social media hasn’t let up on the jokey memes. See below for a few choice examples.

Elon Musk vs. Apple: Tech battle for the ages! [The CultCast]

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Elon Musk versus Apple on The CultCast podcast: Well, that escalated quickly!
Well, that escalated quickly!
Image: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr CC/Modified by Cult of Mac

This week on Cult of Mac’s podcast: After new Twitter CEO Elon Musk began publicly questioning some of Apple’s policies, he went mano-a-mano with Tim Cook. Maybe Musk’s meme-y declaration of war was a bit premature …

Also on The CultCast:

  • The sad state of iCloud storage.
  • A Twitter phone? Really?!?
  • 2023 MacBook Pro benchmarks reveal a big fat surprise.
  • A totally weird tale about the dangers of walking the streets of New York City with hundreds of iPhones.

Listen to this week’s episode of The CultCast in the Podcasts app or your favorite podcast app. (Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review if you like it!) Or watch the video live stream, embedded below.

Elon Musk declares war on Apple

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Elon Musk declares war on Apple over App Store rules.
1, 2, 3, 4 ... I declare a Twitter war.
Image: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr CC/Modified by Cult of Mac

Elon Musk declared war on Apple on Monday afternoon. A Twitter war, anyway. The new owner of Twitter very publicly objects to the 30% fee the iPhone-maker claims from purchases made through the iPhone software store, and also says Apple has threatened to pull the Twitter app from the App Store. He also asked, “Do they [Apple] hate free speech in America?”

An open conflict with Apple is a risky move by Musk, as Twitter needs Apple much more than Apple needs Twitter.

Elon Musk plans to end ‘Twitter for iPhone’ and Android labels

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Apple's Twitter account and other high-profile accounts hacked in massive Bitcoin scam.
Prepare to say goodbye to device labels on Twitter.
Photo: Ravi Sharma/Unsplash CC

Over the years, numerous celebrities have been caught promoting flagship Android phones on Twitter while tweeting from their iPhones. This could soon become a thing of the past, due to a change proposed by Twitter CEO Elon Musk.

The new Twitter owner plans to remove the “Twitter for iPhone” or “Twitter for Android” label below each tweet.

How to get started using Mastodon

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Leave Twitter, join us! …please
Mastodon is a good Twitter clone, but it needs some more active users like you.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Perhaps you, like many others, would like to move away from Twitter. If you read news, webcomics or blogs, you can follow all the same stuff with an RSS reader. But if you want to follow people in your community and talk to others online with the same interests, there’s a Twitter alternative you may have heard about: Mastodon. It’s a full-blown Twitter clone that a lot of people you may know are moving to.

Recent changes at Twitter did not instill confidence in the platform’s future. That’s about the shortest and most diplomatic way I can summarize the cavalcade of poor decision-making that has trickled down from their new CEO, he-who-shall-not-be-named, Rocket Car Tunnel Guy. It’s the last straw for a lot of people.

Despite the memes you may have seen, signing up for Mastodon isn’t that hard. There are just a few things you need to consider. Let me show you how to use Mastodon.

Follow your favorite news, blogs and webcomics without Twitter

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Ditch Twitter, follow the news.
Ditch Twitter, follow the news.
Image: Mori aka ICE/Wikimedia Commons, D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

We all have our favorite news sites, independent blogs or webcomics. A lot of people keep up with new posts on Twitter — it’s where a lot of Cult of Mac traffic comes from. With a mass exodus of Twitter users after you-know-what happened, there’s a way you can still keep up with your favorite sites. It’s a technology that has powered the web for over twenty years called RSS; let me show you can follow the news without Twitter.

Elon Musk throws in towel, agrees to buy Twitter at original price

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The world's richest person will soon have total control of Twitter.
Looks like Musk will buy Twitter after all.
Photo: Elon Musk/Twitter/Cult of Mac

Elon Musk reportedly has stopped his efforts to get out of buying Twitter. He’s going to purchase the social media platform at his original price from April.

He spent the intervening months trying back out of the deal, which forces him to pay much more for the company than its current value.

Why Twitterrific is the best Twitter client for iOS and iPadOS [Awesome Apps]

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Sleek design, power features, no promoted tweets ... what more could you want?
Sleek design, power features, no promoted tweets ... what more could you want?
Image: Joe White/Cult of Mac

Twitter might be going through a turbulent time, but for many of us in the tech community, it remains our de facto town square — a place where we can meet to share our views, opinions and hopes.

Like most of us here at Cult of Mac, I’ve been using Twitter for years. And although I’ve switched between clients more than a handful of times, my favorite Twitter app is Twitterrific.

In fact, I’d even say that Twitterrific is the best Twitter client for iPhone and iPad. Stick around to find out why.

Top TweetDeck for Mac alternatives to ease power users’ pain

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TweetDeck for Mac alternatives worth trying out
These TweetDeck for Mac alternatives are worth checking out.
Photo: Rajesh

With Twitter killing off TweetDeck for Mac today, users who didn’t plan ahead might be scrambling for options to manage their feeds.

While TweetDeck will continue to function on the web, many power users prefer a native Mac app. Luckily, you can find several worthy TweetDeck alternatives for Mac users that will help you get a handle on your Twitter obsession.

How to make Twitter fun again

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Twitter can be… fun? Preliminary research suggests it can.
Twitter can be ... fun? Preliminary research suggests it can.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Twitter: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. People have been talking quite a bit about Twitter lately.

When friends of mine complain about how they don’t enjoy using Twitter, I used to be confused. Twitter is what you make it. If you don’t like Twitter, you can simply follow different accounts and get a completely different experience.

It’s important to note that none of my friends have tens of thousands of followers and/or are regularly harassed on Twitter. That can be a very different experience outside of one’s power to control, to put it lightly.

Twitter has changed, and now, the people you follow might have very little bearing on what you actually see on Twitter at all. Here are my tips on how to take back control of your timeline and make Twitter enjoyable.

Elon Musk puts Twitter acquisition on hold

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The world's richest person will soon have total control of Twitter.
He is still comitted to the deal, though
Photo: Elon Musk/Twitter/Cult of Mac

Elon Musk has put his Twitter acquisition on hold, he said early Friday in a tweet. Musk said he awaits further details and calculations confirming Twitter’s claims that spam accounts on the platform account for less than 5% of active users.

The move comes less than a month after Twitter accepted Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition offer.

If you’re into any of these things, Apple thinks you’re a ‘hipster’

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Are you a hipster? Better check the list.
Are you a hipster? Better check the list.
Photo: iiii iiii@pexels.com

You might ride around on an electric scooter in your shades and flannel shirt while sporting copious amounts of sculpted facial hair, but are you a hipster?

In certain neighborhoods of New York City or San Francisco, it may be a foregone conclusion. It’s practically mandatory. But others might wonder if they qualify.

Thankfully, a special list of “hipster words” has surfaced. And it comes from Apple, of all places.

Elon Musk buys Twitter for a cool $44 billion

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The world's richest person will soon have total control of Twitter.
The world's richest person will soon have total control of Twitter.
Photo: Elon Musk/Twitter/Cult of Mac

Twitter said Monday it accepted Elon Musk’s offer to purchase the company for $44 billion. That gives the billionaire — who is the world’s wealthiest person — absolute control of the social media platform after the deal is approved.

Elon Musk wants to take over Twitter by spending $41 billion

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Elon Musk
Elon Musk now wants to acquire the whole of Twitter
Photo: NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affair/Wikipedia CC

Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has offered $41 billion in cash to take over Twitter. He wants to take the social media company private to ensure it is able to thrive and “be the platform for free speech around the globe.”

The move comes less than two weeks after Musk spent $3 billion to become Twitter’s largest shareholder.

Improved iPhone privacy protections could cost Facebook $20.9 billion and counting

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Facebook vs. iPhone App Tracking Transparency
Turns out the answer to this question was “do not track” 80% of the time.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

A tweak to iOS privacy settings made in 2021 has already cost Facebook $8.1 billion, and the social-networking company’s losses will increase by another $12.8 billion in 2022, according to an industry report.

Forcing applications to ask permission before tracking their users’ online activity hurt other companies, too. But nowhere near as much as Facebook.

Elon Musk flip-flops on joining Twitter board

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A new Twitter threaded conversation layout might declutter the tweet machine.
Elon Musk changed his mind about joining the Twitter board of directors shortly before joining it.
Image: Twitter

Elon Musk is not going to be on the Twitter board of directors, despite what was announced a few days ago. The Twitter CEO says the change is “for the best.”

Musk is retaining his 9.2% stake in the company, though. And he’s has shown a lot of enthusiasm about Twitter recently. Why he’s not joining its board is unclear.

Twitter confirms it really is working on an edit button

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Twitter is working on an edit button
Twitter Blue subscribers will get to test it first.
Image: Twitter

Twitter is officially working on an edit button that will give users the ability to tweak tweets after they’ve been posted. It said Wednesday that the feature has been in development since last year — long before Elon Musk’s involvement.

Testing of the edit button will begin with Twitter Blue subscribers in the coming months before eventually rolling out to everyone.