Elon Musk’s letter to Microsoft CEO: You misused Twitter data

Microsoft accused of not paying a discounted rate offered by Twitter for continued access to its APIs and content.
Sejal Sharma
Elon Musk (left), Satya Nadella (right)
Elon Musk (left), Satya Nadella (right)

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Twitter has accused Microsoft of violating multiple provisions of the social media platform’s developers agreement for an extended period of time.

First reported by the New York Times, Elon Musk's personal lawyer yesterday sent a letter to Satya Nadella, the CEO and Chairman of Microsoft, accusing the tech giant of excessive and abusive usage of Twitter’s Application Programming Interface (API), a software tool that enables developers to access data from a website and deliver services based on this content. 

Twitter has enforced rate limits on the use of its API which, the company explained in its letter, prohibits developers (such as Microsoft) from ‘exceeding’ or ‘circumventing’.

“Despite these limitations, the Microsoft Apps accessed Twitter’s APIs over 780 million times and retrieved over 26 billion tweets in 2022 alone. Indeed, for one of the Microsoft Apps, Microsoft’s account information outright states that it intends to allow its customers to “go around throttling limits,” said the letter.

Microsoft doesn’t currently pay Twitter for data

Twitter, in the letter, also accused Microsoft of using Twitter’s APIs free of charge which has, in turn, generated billions of dollars in revenue for Microsoft annually.

The Bill Gates-founded tech firm also stands accused of not paying a discounted rate offered by Twitter for continued access to its APIs and content.

Twitter’s API-driven apps like Hootsuite, Spriklr and Sprout Social were to free to use for some researchers, partners and developers who agreed to their terms, reported CNBC.

The letter further says: “Microsoft operated eight separate Twitter API apps, listed below, which appear to provide data and functionality for at least five separate Microsoft products and services, including Xbox One, Bing Pages, Azure, Power Platform, and Ads:

  • Xbox One Social

  • Bing Pages

  • Bing Pages 2

  • Microsoft Azure

  • Microsoft Power Platform

  • Microsoft Ads

  • Microsoft Global Ads

  • Azure Logic Apps for Fairfax”

Interesting Engineering had earlier reported that ever since Musk acquired Twitter in October 2022 for an exorbitant price of $44 billion, he has been on a spree to gain revenue from a loss-making platform. He has fired thousands of employees, charged people on Twitter for a verification status and introduced a rate card for developers to have access to its API.

This comes a month after Musk, in a tweet reply, accused Microsoft of using Twitter data to train their AI and even threatened to file a lawsuit.

The social media platform is now asking Microsoft to identify Twitter’s content currently in its control, the manner in which it used such content and to submit a written report describing its deployment of such content no later than June 7, 2023.

You can read the full letter as uploaded by CNBC below: