Microsoft has announced that it will be dropping Twitter from its Microsoft Advertising plan starting from April 25, 2023. This comes after Twitter’s owner, Elon Musk, made an appearance at a major marketing and advertising conference where he tried to lure brands back to the platform following the loss of half of its biggest advertisers after his takeover of the company. Musk’s reaction to the news was swift, accusing Microsoft of using data from Twitter without permission to train its chatbot and threatening to sue the company.

The decision means that users will no longer be able to access their Twitter account through Microsoft’s Digital Marketing Center’s social media management tool, nor will they be able to schedule, create or manage tweets or tweet drafts. Microsoft’s social media service was previously provided for free to advertisers and was prominently featured in Microsoft Advertising’s Digital Marketing Center dashboard. The feature allowed advertisers to manage their social media accounts on various platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, in one place.

Companies that use Microsoft Advertising will still be able to manage and create content for Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn through the platform, just as they were able to before. However, this decision is expected to leave a significant hole in Twitter’s already-ravaged bottom line.

The decision was likely made due to Twitter’s decision to charge enterprises considerable sums for accessing its API. An enterprise-level subscription to the API can cost as much as $42,000 a month. Microsoft’s move has clearly enraged Musk, who is already struggling to turn a money-hemorrhaging social media company around.

The announcement also comes a day after Reddit announced that it will start charging AI companies for training their models on any content submitted to the company’s platform. This decision may have inspired Musk’s vague threat, but it remains to be seen whether a lawsuit accusing an AI company of training its data on content it didn’t seek express permission for can stand up in court.

Microsoft’s move has drawn attention to the growing importance of AI in the tech world and the power struggles that come with it. Microsoft generated more than $12 billion in digital advertising revenue last year from ads that would be created, managed, and run through its Advertising platform. However, it only generated about 6% of the $198 billion in revenue last year from ads running through its platforms that create and manage ads, according to Insider Intelligence. Google, in comparison, accounted for nearly 30% of total digital ad spend in 2022.

Microsoft is working to change that and has redesigned and integrated generative AI across its platforms, including its search engine Bing and browser Edge. OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT technology, which Musk co-founded, is also a partner of Microsoft. Microsoft invested $10 billion in the AI company and has integrated its GPT-4 large language model into its Bing search engine.

Musk’s reaction to Microsoft’s decision has raised questions about the use of data in AI training and whether companies have the right to use data from social media platforms like Twitter. It highlights the challenges of balancing the need for innovation with ethical concerns around data privacy and ownership.

In the end, whether Musk follows through with his threat to sue remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: the battle over Twitter data is far from over, and the stakes are higher than ever.

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