Twitter is threatening Meta with a lawsuit after the successful launch of Meta’s new Twitter rival, Threads.
The social media giant views the app as a competitive threat, indicating Threads’ impact since its launch.
Accusations of Trade Secret Theft
An attorney representing Twitter sent Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg a letter accusing the company of trade secret theft through the hiring of former Twitter employees. Semafor first reported the letter, and a person familiar with it confirmed its authenticity to CNN.
“Meta had engaged in systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property,” Alex Spiro, an outside lawyer for Twitter owner Elon Musk, wrote in the letter.
In response to reports on the letter, Musk tweeted: “Competition is fine, cheating is not.” This statement underscores Twitter’s stance on the issue, emphasizing the importance of fair competition in the tech industry.
Allegations Against Former Twitter Employees
The letter says that Meta hired former Twitter employees who “have improperly retained Twitter documents and electronic devices” and that Meta “deliberately” involved these employees in developing Threads.
“Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights,” Spiro continued, “and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information.”
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone flatly dismissed the letter. “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing,” he said on Threads.
This statement contradicts the allegations made by Twitter, setting the stage for a potential legal battle.
The Impact of Threads
In the months since Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion, the social network has been challenged by a growing number of smaller microblogging platforms, such as the decentralized social network Mastodon and Bluesky, an alternative backed by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
But Twitter has not threatened either with litigation. Unlike some Twitter rivals, Threads has experienced rapid growth, with Zuckerberg reporting 30 million user sign-ups on the app’s first day. As of Thursday afternoon, Threads was the number-one free app on the iOS App Store.
The legal threat may not necessarily lead to litigation, but it could be part of a strategy to slow down Meta, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.