Elon Musk refuses to pay Twitter’s Google bill

Dispute with Google Cloud could reportedly leave the social media firm’s trust and safety teams in peril

Anthony Cuthbertson
Monday 12 June 2023 12:39 BST
<p>Elon Musk's Twitter account displayed on a smartphone in Los Angeles, 13 May, 2022</p>

Elon Musk's Twitter account displayed on a smartphone in Los Angeles, 13 May, 2022

Twitter is refusing to stand by a $1 billion contract with Google to use its cloud hosting services, according to reports.

Elon Musk’s company is in the process of moving away from Google Cloud before the contract expires on 30 June, Platformer reported, leaving the social media firm’s trust and safety teams in peril.

The move appears to be part of radical cost-cutting measures that have been underway since Mr Musk’s takeover of Twitter in October 2022, which has already seen thousands of employees laid off and a reduction in infrastructure spending.

The deal with Google Cloud relates to hosting services, which include protecting accounts and fighting spam on Twitter.

The effort to move to a different platform is reportedly “running behind schedule”, which could potentially impact Twitter’s ability to detect and remove spam and child sexual abuse material.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment – the company’s PR team was effectively eliminated during the lay-offs – while Google is also yet to respond.

A separate report from The Information last month claimed that Twitter also delayed payments to Amazon Web Services.

The latest issues come after internal documents revealed that Twitter’s advertising revenue is down by more than half since Mr Musk’s takeover.

The company’s main revenue stream was initially hit by advertisers withdrawing over concerns related to the direction of the platform and its leadership, though Mr Musk claimed in April that “almost all advertisers have come back or said they are going to come back”.

Twitter’s valuation since Mr Musk bought the company for $44 billion has dropped to around $15 billion, according to estimates from investment firm Fidelity.

Newly-appointed Twitter chief executive Linda Yaccarino, who took over from Mr Musk last week, has been tasked with improving relationships with advertisers, while Mr Musk focuses on “overseeing product, software and sysops as the firm’s chief technology officer.

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