Billionaire Twitter boss Elon Musk has publicly threatened legal action against Microsoft over a row about advertising fees.
Microsoft first announced this week that it was dropping Twitter from its global Microsoft Advertising Plan.
“Starting on April 25, 2023, Smart Campaigns with Multi-platform will no longer support Twitter,” the press release said.
The post didn’t specifically say why the $2.15 trillion-valued Microsoft was making the move. However, speculation is it was reacting to the $45,000 annual fee Twitter recently asked business users to pay for access to its API.
On Wednesday 19 Musk replied to a tweet about the news. He wrote that Microsoft “trained illegally using Twitter data. Lawsuit time.”
It has not been clarified who or what exactly Musk meant with his illegal training comment. However, Microsoft recently put heavy investment into ChatGPT makers OpenAI. They also have been building similar tools into their software including Bing, Office 365 and others.
Many new AI systems have been controversially trained on open (or not so open) access databases of internet media or communications.
This could be the kind of situation Musk thinks happened with OpenAI and Twitter. And that is a topic he might have some insight into. He helped found OpenAI in 2016 before leaving in 2018.
Whether or not the controversial billionaire will actually sue Microsoft or not is another matter. He has previously Tweeted threats of legal action that, so far, haven’t materialised.
In 2022 he threatened to sue teenage blogger Jack Sweeney. The US high school student had created the ElonJet twitter page, which tracked Musk’s private jet around the world and tweeted location data.
Several press outlets contacted Twitter’s press email for comment on this latest story and received a solitary poop emoji in response.
Microsoft cutting Twitter out of their advertising platform comes at difficult time for Musk and his company.
Since he took over Twitter in October 2022, it has been rocked by regular controversies. That has resulted in it losing more than half of its top 1000 advertising clients in just six months.
He has been working on the situation though. Just this week Musk spoke on stage at a global advertiser’s conference in Miami and agreed to hear out concerns the market may have.
However, he seemed to double down on his dislike for OpenAI and Microsoft yesterday.
“I’m open to ideas, but ripping off the Twitter database, demonetizing it (removing ads) and then selling our data to others isn’t a winning solution,” he replied to a user’s question about the API fee changes.
That $45,000 fee, and his beef with OpenAI, may cost Twitter several billions now Microsoft is out – lawsuit or no.
Twitter was previously one of the prominently featured advertising partners on the Microsoft Digital Marketing Centre, a program that bought in $12 billion in total revenue last year.