Twitter threatens to sue Meta after rival Threads app gains traction

Meta head Mark Zuckerberg. [Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

On the day Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta launched Threads, a text-based companion to Instagram, a Silicon Valley law firm representing Elon Musk sent them a cease-and-desist letter, accusing the app of “systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation” of Twitter’s intellectual property, trade secrets and data.

The letter from Quinn Emanuel attorney Alex Spiro, dated July 5 and published on Thursday by the outlet Semafor, is addressed to Zuckerberg and Meta’s chief legal officer, Jennifer Newstead.

Spiro claims that Meta has hired “dozens of former Twitter employees” over the past year, with access to the company’s trade secrets “and other highly confidential information,” which they used to develop Threads as a “copycat” app.

“Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information,” Spiro wrote.

Musk himself commented on news reports about the letter by tweeting, “Competition is fine, cheating is not.”

Meta spokesman Andy Stone dismissed Twitter’s accusations. “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee – that’s just not a thing,” he told Semafor.

Zuckerberg launched the Twitter-lookalike app on Wednesday, offering users the ability to port their entire network from Instagram, another Meta-owned platform. More than 30 million users have signed up so far, he said on Thursday. The app’s rollout in the EU has been delayed due to privacy concerns.

At the end of June, Musk imposed limits on how much data can be read on Twitter, saying the temporary measure was designed to combat “data scraping and system manipulation.” He also turned off the ability to read Twitter without an account.

Federal regulators had previously scrutinized Meta for its habit of buying rivals or creating copycat products to run them out of business. The company, which began as Facebook, bought Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. Since then, it has rolled out Instagram Stories to compete with Snapchat, and Facebook Reels as a rival to TikTok.

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