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Elon Musk threatens to sue Microsoft

The billionaire accused the tech giant of using Twitter data without permission

Elon Musk has suggested that he intends to sue Microsoft over “illegally using” Twitter’s data. The software giant recently announced plans to remove Twitter from its corporate advertising program. 

In an update to its Multi-platform Social network engagement page, Microsoft announced that as of April 25, its Smart Campaigns advertising platform will no longer support Twitter and that advertising clients won’t be able to access their Twitter accounts through Microsoft’s social management tool. Meanwhile, other social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn will continue to be available, the company added. 

Musk replied to news in a short tweet on Wednesday by stating: “They [Microsoft] trained illegally using Twitter data. Lawsuit time.” The billionaire was apparently referring to Microsoft’s use of the Twitter API (application programming interface) to train AI programs, presumably including the Microsoft-controlled OpenAI ChatGPT. 

Microsoft has also reportedly refused to pay for the Twitter API, which as of February comes with a monthly access fee, with the basic plan costing $100 per month while enterprise subscriptions come in tiers. According to a report by the magazine Wired last month, Twitter wants to charge large companies from $42,000 to as much as $210,000 per month for access to the API. 

According to Twitter, its API provides “broad access to public Twitter data that users have chosen to share with the world” as well as non-public information, such as direct messages, that people have authorized developers to have access to.  

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One user replied to Musk’s statement by suggesting that limiting the use of Twitter’s API could potentially curtail traffic to the social media website from the outside. The billionaire responded by saying he was “open to ideas” but stressed that “ripping off the Twitter database, demonetizing it (removing ads) and then selling our data to others isn’t a winning solution.” 

Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion last year and has since brought a range of changes to the company, including laying off some 80% of its staff. The billionaire has been looking to turn the social media platform into a profitable enterprise, although so far it has been losing value. In an interview with Tucker Carlson this week, Musk stated that Twitter is now worth roughly half of what he paid for the company last year, stating “I must be a genius.”

April 20, 2023 at 05:38PM

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