Twitter refuses to pay Google for cloud services. Here’s why it matters and what the fallout could be for users

In the midst of an ongoing cost-cutting effort, Twitter has now refused to pay the bills to renew its multi-year contract with Google Cloud, Platformer reported.

We’ve all heard of the cloud, but what does it have to do with Twitter? And more precisely, what will be the consequences for Twitter users if Google Cloud pulls the plug on the platform?

What are Cloud Computing Services?

To put it simply, the cloud is a set of computing resources that can be accessed remotely via the Internet. These resources are leased to Internet-connected organizations so they don’t have to buy and maintain their own.

In the case of Twitter, these resources include storage space for very large amounts of data, as well as a suite of programs that perform various operations on this data, as agreed upon in the contract. All of this happens through a global network of physical servers.

Read more: Where is your data? It’s not actually in the cloud, it’s sitting in a data center

Cloud computing is a convenient and cost-effective business model, which has gained a lot of favor from companies large and small.

Currently, a handful of players dominate this market. In the lead is Amazon Web Services (AWS) which holds about 32% of the market. Amazon became the top cloud services provider in 2006 and has since established a comfortable lead over its rivals, Microsoft Azure (23%) and Google Cloud (10%).

Reliability and scalability are perhaps the most important requirements a business will have from their cloud service provider. And when it comes to reliability, redundancy is key.

Redundancy means that if one data center goes down, there are many others with duplicate data that can go live without a problem. And if the amount of user data is high in one particular data center, the extra load can be offloaded to another. In this way it is possible to manage peak traffic periods without loss of performance.

What could happen if Google pulled the plug?

It appears that Twitter is at loggerheads with its cloud service provider, Google Cloud. The company is reportedly disputing Google Cloud’s bill as it seeks to renegotiate its contract with Google.

The problem appears to be rooted in a disagreement about service quality and performance. Twitter doesn’t think it’s getting value for money and is withholding the last payment in its $1 billion contract with Google Cloud.

Under the contract, Google Cloud hosts many of Twitter’s trusted and security services. If the disagreement isn’t resolved by the end of the month and if Twitter cuts ties with Google Cloud, it could seriously threaten its ability to fight spam, remove child sexual abuse material and generally keep accounts safe.

Google currently allows Twitter users to do this as well registration with your Google account. And Twitter profiles are highly ranked in Google searches, by virtue of Twitter’s close ties to Google. This privileged status could be at risk if the two companies fail to come to terms.

In addition to Google Cloud, Twitter also has a multi-year cloud computing agreement with AWS to offer a number of features. According to reports, it has also withheld payments from Amazon in the past and owed about $70 million in bills in March. Amazon has responded by threatening to withhold payments for advertising it runs on the platform.

Why is Twitter refusing to pay?

The dispute can perhaps be understood as yet another attempt by Twitter to radically reduce operating costs. It’s a trend that started late last year when Elon Musk acquired the company for $44 billion.

Musk, who just named former NBC Universal advertising executive Linda Yaccarino as CEO of Twitter, has implemented a series of cost-cutting measures since the acquisition including the layoff of more than half of the company’s 7,500 employees.

Looking at the bigger picture, we see Musk grappling with trying to make Twitter a leaner, more efficient business.

Repression of harmful abuse

At stake in this dispute are the services that help keep Twitter free of harmful, dangerous and offensive content. Twitter’s battle against this content, as well as spam and bots, is ongoing. While it’s difficult to predict the outcome of the dispute with Google, Twitter is likely to take any action that helps the company save money.

This could mean transferring those services to another provider or keeping the Google Cloud services but on more favorable terms. Another possibility (although less likely) is that Twitter will internally migrate those particular services where it will have more control. But this would also require expense and human resources to manage the data.

In the worst case, Twitter could collapse or destabilize if some element within it goes offline. Twitter trolls aside, this outcome wouldn’t be in anyone’s interest. So Twitter and Google Cloud are more likely to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Read More: Instead of showing leadership, Twitter is paying lip service on the dangers of deep fakes

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