Elon Musk’s lawyer accuses Microsoft of abusing his access to Twitter data

Elon Musk’s personal lawyer Alex Spiro sent a letter on behalf of Twitter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella accusing Microsoft of violating Twitter’s developer agreement, as reported by The New York Times. In Thursday’s letter (available in full below), Spiro claims that Microsoft may have violated “multiple provisions” of Twitter’s developer agreement “over an extended period of time.”

Until recently, Microsoft had integrated Twitter APIs with some of its products: Twitter’s letter states that Microsoft operated “eight separate Twitter API applications” integrated with products like Xbox, Bing, and its ad platform. But it started getting support for those APIs in April, including the removal of sharing clips to Twitter from Xbox, likely due to Twitter’s new and generally more expensive API levels.

According to the letter, examples of Microsoft violating Twitter’s developer agreement include using the API for “unauthorized uses and purposes” and Microsoft failing to report to Twitter “any use cases for six of the eight Microsoft applications which continued to operate until last month. Stating that their deal requires Microsoft’s full cooperation, Spiro’s letter requests a “compliance audit” for each of the eight apps through April 2023, when Microsoft shut them down. It demands a wide swath of information from Microsoft about each of the apps and how it used Twitter data, all provided by June 7.

Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw shared the following statement with The edge. “Today we heard from a law firm representing Twitter with some questions about our past use of the free Twitter API. We will review these questions and respond appropriately. We look forward to continuing our long-term partnership with the company.” The company also told the NOW which currently does not pay Twitter for the data.

Twitter’s press email responded to a request for comment with a poop emoji, as it has since March.

Spiro’s letter does not mention any pending legal action. However, in April, Musk already threatened to sue Microsoft because it “illegally trained using data from Twitter,” apparently referring to the data used to train large language models used in chatbots like Microsoft’s Bing and OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Other companies have taken less drastic approaches to try to benefit from training those models; Reddit, for example, recently announced API changes to allow you to better monetize your data.


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