Twitter Decides To Stop Paying Google, Despite Relying On It For Multiple Tools

Last week, when Elon Musk hosted conspiracy theory nonsense peddler RFK Jr. on a Twitter Spaces, he admitted that, despite firing somewhere around 85% of Twitter staff at the point he took the company over and just no longer paying rent or many other bills, he’s still struggling to get the company to break even.

This is kind of incredible, given that pre-Musk, Twitter was profitable in 16 of the previous 20 quarters. Obviously, the fact that advertisers have abandoned the platform (mostly because of Elon Musk himself) hasn’t helped.

But, really, the most incredible thing is that he can’t make the site profitable even when he’s not paying the bills.

The latest bill that he’s stopped paying is, according to Platformer, the Google Cloud bill, which hosts a wide variety of important internal Twitter tools, including some of their trust & safety tools. The report notes that, as with basically all of Twitter’s contracts, Elon has been trying to renegotiate them downward, but it had at least kept paying the Google bill, in part because Google was one of the companies that had stuck around and continued advertising on Twitter:

Twitter has been trying to renegotiate its contract with Google since at least March, the Information reported that month. It had also delayed payments to Amazon Web Services, leading the company to threaten withholding advertising payments.

At the time, Twitter decided to pay its Google Cloud bills in light of the fact that Google was (as of February) the company’s second-largest advertiser. It also pays to license the full stream of tweets to show in search results.

It’s unclear what changed. But as Twitter continued to push Google to lower its cloud costs, at some point it stopped paying its cloud invoices — and is now planning to move off the platform altogether.

Not paying Amazon is also notable, though Twitter only started using AWS a couple years ago. But still, these decisions to stop paying bills also means that some of the company’s biggest remaining advertisers may start pulling their ads as well.

Also notable, though is how Twitter strongly relies on Google Cloud for many internal tools. Platformer discusses how a key tool for removing both CSAM and bots (two things that Elon has said were top priorities, though his actions indicate otherwise) are hosted on Google Cloud and there seems to be little to no effort for Twitter to replace them:

Twitter’s core spam detection tools, and the systems that it uses to find violent extremism and media containing gratuitous gore, all run on Google Cloud. So are all of the systems that log data used by the trust and safety team to investigate bad actors. Shutting down GCP could leave the trust and safety team without a mechanism to investigate bad behavior.

Twitter now has three weeks to migrate over that tooling. Anything that is not migrated in time risks being shut down.

And, of course, all this comes out just days after it was revealed that Twitter’s use of PhotoDNA to detect and block known child sexual abuse material was borked, allowing that material to get uploaded to the site.

It really feels like Elon Musk has now turned Twitter into a giant game of Jenga, seeing just how many blocks he can remove without the whole thing tumbling over. So far, the whole thing has remained standing, but that doesn’t mean it will continue to do so.

This information was published en Tech Dirt

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