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

Elon Musk’s personal attorney, Alex Spiro, has 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 alleges that Microsoft may have violated “multiple provisions” of Twitter’s developer agreement “over an extended period of time.”

Until recently, Microsoft had integrated Twitter’s APIs with some of its products — Twitter’s letter claims that Microsoft operated “eight separate Twitter API apps” that integrated with products such as Xbox, Bing, and its advertising platform. But it started pulling support for those APIs in April, including dropping clip sharing to Twitter from Xbox, likely due to Twitter’s new and generally more expensive API layers.

According to the letter, examples of Microsoft violating Twitter’s developer agreement include using the API for “unauthorized uses and purposes” and failing to inform Twitter of “every use case for six of the eight Microsoft apps that make it into continued to use last month”. Spiro claims their agreement requires full cooperation from Microsoft, and Spiro’s letter requests a “compliance audit” on each of the eight apps through April 2023, when Microsoft shuts them down. It requires a wide variety of information from Microsoft about each of the apps and how it used Twitter data, all provided on June 7.

Microsoft spokesperson 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 answer them appropriately. We look forward to continuing our long-term partnership with the company.” The company also told the NOW that it is not currently paying Twitter for data.

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

Spiro’s letter mentions no pending legal action. Back in April, however, Musk threatened to sue Microsoft for “illegally training using Twitter data,” seemingly referring to data used to train large language models used in chatbots such as Microsoft’s Bing and OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Other companies have taken less drastic measures to try and capitalize on training those models; For example, Reddit recently announced API changes to better monetize its data.

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