- By Bernd Debussmann Jr
- BBC News, Washington DC
Twitter is considering legal action against Meta over its fast-growing competitor Threads.
Threads, which launched to millions on Wednesday, is similar to Twitter and has been used by meta bosses as a “friending” alternative.
Twitter’s Elon Musk said “competition is okay, cheating is not” — but Meta has denied in a legal letter that former Twitter employees helped create the threads.
According to Meta, more than 30 million people have signed up for the new app.
BBC News technology correspondent James Clayton noted that the look and feel of Threads is similar to Twitter. That said, the news feed and retweets are incredibly familiar.
In a move announced first News agency SemaphoreTwitter attorney Alex Spiro sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, accusing Meta of “systematic, intentional and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”
Specifically, Mr Spiro alleges that Meta hired dozens of former Twitter employees who “had access to and continued to possess Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information”, which ultimately helped Meta to create what he called the “copycat” Threads app.
“Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights and requires Meta to take immediate action to stop using Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information,” the letter said.
“Twitter reserves all rights, including but not limited to, to seek both civil remedies and injunctive relief without further notice.”
BBC News, which has seen a copy of the letter, has contacted both Meta and Twitter for comment.
Responding to a post on Twitter about the legal letter, Mr Musk said: “Competition is good, cheating is not”.
On Threads, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone posted, “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s not a thing.”
Both Mr Musk and Mr Zuckerberg have acknowledged competition over Threads, which is linked to Instagram but operates as a standalone app.
When it launched in 100 countries, Mr Zuckerberg broke more than 11 years of silence on Twitter and posted the most famous meme of two Spider-Man figures pointing at each other.
Shortly after, as the word “threads” on his platform gained global popularity, Mr Musk said: “Being attacked by strangers on Twitter is infinitely preferable to indulging in the false joy of Instagram that hides pain.”
Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino said in a tweet Thursday that while the site, which previously reported about 260 million monthly users, is “largely followed,” it “can never be replicated.”
Both Meta and Twitter have made significant layoffs this year, with Meta announcing in April that it would cut its workforce by approximately 10,000.
Twitter has lost as many as 80% of its 7,500 employees in a wave of layoffs since Mr Musk took over last October.