Twitter is considering legal action against Meta, claiming the company stole trade secrets to develop its fast-growing rival Threads app, according to multiple reports.
In a letter dated July 5, an attorney for Twitter, Alex Spiro, accused Meta of engaging in “systemic, wilful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property”.
The allegations come as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said more than 30 million people signed up to use Threads during the first 24 hours since its launch on Wednesday.
Twitter owner condemns ‘cheating’ Meta
The letter, which was first published by Semafor, accused Zuckerberg and his company of hiring “dozens” of former Twitter employees who “continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information”.
Spiro claimed Meta used the insider information to create its rival messaging app. The letter demanded Meta immediately stop using any “Twitter trade secrets.” It also said the company is “expressly prohibited” from scraping any of Twitter’s followers or following data.”
In a tweet on Thursday, Twitter owner Elon Musk said that “competition is fine, cheating is not,” in reference to the letter Twitter sent to Meta.
Competition is fine, cheating is not
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2023
On Threads, Meta communications director Andy Stone said: “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee – that’s just not a thing.”
Twitter’s Spiro did not reveal whether the social media company will take legal action against Meta, save to say: “Twitter reserves all rights, including, but not limited to, the right to seek both civil remedies and injunctive relief without further notice.”
Elon Musk in ‘position of weakness’
U.S. copyright law does not protect ideas, according to experts. So, Twitter will need to prove that Meta stole its intellectual property, such as trade secrets, if it wants to win a copyright violation lawsuit in the country.
“Good rule of thumb is that when you want to sue someone you file a lawsuit, you do not write an angry letter,” Jim Anderson, CEO of AI software company Beacon, told the BBC’s Verified Live.
“[Elon Musk] is coming from a position of weakness. I don’t think many people will take him [and his letter] seriously,” he added.
Meta launched its Threads app this week, seeking to capitalize on Twitter’s recent turmoil. Twitter has been facing backlash for changes to its platform since Elon Musk tookover the company in October last year.
The social media network recently enforced a temporary reading limit for Twitter accounts and has relaxed its content moderation rules. Meta said the goal of Threads, which is built on top of Instagram – is to “take what Instagram does best and expand that to text.”
Threads is now available in over 100 countries. The new application is the latest salvo in the ongoing feud between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. As MetaNews reported recently, the two billionaires have committed to take their rivalry to the Octagon in a physical fight.