Twitter accuses Microsoft of unauthorised use of its API

  • Twitter has reportedly requested Microsoft audit the use of its API.
  • According to a letter seen by Reuters, Twitter accuses Microsoft of accessing the API as many as 780 million times in 2022.
  • Importantly, Twitter’s API was still free at this time given a paywall was only recently added to the solution.

Back in April, Microsoft dropped Twitter from its Smart Campaigns with Multi-platform solution with reports suggesting it was due to the high cost of access to Twitter’s application programming interface (API).

At the time Elon Musk proclaimed “lawsuit time” and now more formal allegations have been made according to Reuters. Well, more formal than a tweet from a man who is increasingly spreading conspiracy theories and far-right wing talking points.

It’s said that Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro has requested that Microsoft conduct an audit of its use of Twitter’s content. It appears as if Microsoft is being accused of improperly using Twitter’s API despite limitations imposed by the social media platform.

“Despite these limitations, the Microsoft Apps accessed Twitter’s APIs over 780 million times and retrieved over 26 billion tweets in 2022 alone,” reads the letter.

Microsoft said it would review the questions and respond appropriately but it appears to be of the opinion that the API was free. With that having been said, as per a Mashable report from earlier this year, Twitter offered Premium and Enterprise plans pre-Musk.

The Enterprise tier was priced on a case by case basis but it’s unclear whether Microsoft paid for access or whether it leveraged the free tier for its purposes. If that is the case, Twitter may have a leg to stand on here.

However, Musk’s suggestion that Microsoft “trained” illegally using Twitter data suggests that he may potentially be talking about OpenAI – where Microsoft is an investor – of scraping the service to train the likes of GPT-4.

While questionable, scraping the internet isn’t illegal as of time of writing.

We are incredibly curious to see how this plays out in the coming months and whether Twitter will pursue legal action against Microsoft.

The Redmond firm is not the first to stoke Musk’s ire. Last year shortly after taking over at the social network, the billionaire took Apple to task about potentially removing the app from the App Store.

Following a meeting with Tim Cook, Musk appeared to resolve the issue stating that “Among other things, we resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store. Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so.”

Here’s hoping the incoming appointment of Linda Yaccarino as Twitter CEO brings a bit of stability to the platform.


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