Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has accused Microsoft of violating Twitter's developer agreement. According to The New York Times, in a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Musk's lawyer Alex Spiro alleges that Microsoft has been using Twitter's API to access data for unauthorized purposes.
Spiro's letter states that Microsoft has been using Twitter's API to access data for “unauthorized uses and purposes.” He also alleges that Microsoft has been using Twitter's API to access data for “commercial purposes” without Twitter's consent.
Spiro's letter demands that Microsoft provide detailed information about how it has been using Twitter's API. He also demands that Microsoft stop using Twitter's API immediately. Microsoft has not yet responded to Spiro's letter.
According to the letter, Microsoft has operated eight separate apps that integrated with Twitter's APIs and provided data and functionality for products like Xbox, Bing, Azure, and Ads. However, Twitter claims that Microsoft has:
- Used the APIs for unauthorized uses and purposes
- Exceeded or circumvented the rate limits imposed by Twitter
- Not informed Twitter of any use case for six of the eight apps
- Not paid Twitter for the data access, despite generating billions of dollars in revenue from it
- Refused to cooperate with Twitter's requests for compliance audits
The letter demands that Microsoft provide a wide range of information about each of the apps and how it used Twitter's data by June 7th. It also warns that Twitter may take legal action if Microsoft does not comply.
Why does this matter?
Twitter's letter comes amid a tense relationship between the two companies, especially after Elon Musk acquired Twitter in October 2022 for $44 billion. Musk has since made several changes to the platform, such as firing thousands of employees, charging users for verification badges, and introducing new pricing tiers for developers to access its APIs.
Musk has also accused Microsoft of using Twitter's data to train its AI models without permission and threatened to sue the company in April. Microsoft has denied any wrongdoing and said it does not currently pay Twitter for data.
They trained illegally using Twitter data. Lawsuit time.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2023
Twitter's letter also highlights the growing importance and value of social media data for tech companies, especially for developing AI-based products and services. However, it also raises questions about the privacy and security of users' data and the terms and conditions of accessing it.
Ongoing Tension Between Two Big Tech CEOs
Elon Musk was a co-founder of OpenAI, the company that Microsoft invests heavily in. Alongside OpenAI, Microsoft has brought the org's GPT-4 to its service such as Office (Microsoft 365 Copilot), Bing (Bing Chat and Bing Image Creator), Microsoft Cloud (Azure OpenAI Service), CRM/ERP (Dynamics 365 Copilot), and programming (GitHub Copilot X).
Musk has expressed concern about AI and participated in the FutureOfLife initiative, which advocates for more AI controls to avoid the emergence of artificial general intelligence (AGI). The initiative's open letter urged all AI developers to halt the development of AI that might surpass GPT-4 in power for a minimum of six months.
Despite co-founding OpenAI, Musk has become a critic of the company and Microsoft's investment. He has said the outcome of OpenAI moving from a not-for-profit into a for-profit company is not what he intended. Musk has also said that the company is now a de facto division of Microsoft following Redmond's $10 billion investment into the firm.
Earlier today, we reported on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella refuting Musk's claims about the relationship it has with OpenAI. Nadella denied Musk's claims, insisting that his statements are “factually incorrect”. The Microsoft CEO defended his company's relationship with OpenAI in his interview with CNBC, saying that Microsoft merely has a non-controlling interest in the startup.
“OpenAI is very grounded in their mission of being controlled by a nonprofit board”, Nadella said. “We have a non-controlling interest in it, we have a great commercial partnership in it.”