Twitter threatens to sue Meta over Threads

Twitter has threatened to sue Meta Platforms over Threads, alleging the new app is a “copycat” built by former Twitter employees using the company’s intellectual property.

Semafor obtained a legal letter from Twitter lawyer Alex Spiro to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on 5 July 2023, a day before Threads rolled out.

Spiro said Twitter had serious concerns that Meta had engaged in “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”

The letter went on to allege that Meta had hired “dozens” of former Twitter employees over the last year.

Since taking over Twitter in November 2022, Musk has fired about 80% of the company’s employees — roughly 6,500 people. It now has fewer than 600 engineers.

The company alleges Meta deliberately assigned some of these employees to develop, in a matter of months, Meta’s copycat “Threads” app with the specific intent that they use Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.

“Twitter knows that these employees previously worked at Twitter, that these employees had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information, that these employees owe ongoing obligations to Twitter, and that many of these employees have improperly retained Twitter documents and electronic devices,” Spiro wrote.

Twitter wants Meta to take “immediate steps” to stop using Twitter’s trade secrets or highly confidential information.

Spiro also instructed Meta to preserve any documents that could be relevant to a dispute between Twitter, Meta, and former Twitter employees who now work for Meta.

“That includes, but is not limited to, all documents related to the recruitment, hiring, and onboarding of these former Twitter employees, the development of Meta’s competing Threads app, and any communication between these former Twitter employees and any agent, representative, or employee of Meta,” the letter said.

In a post on Threads, Meta communications director Andy Stone denied that any former Twitter employees were working on the Threads engineering team. “That’s just not a thing,” he said.

Despite not being available in Europe yet, Threads has seen massive uptake since launching on Thursday.

In 16 hours, it had already garnered 30 million sign-ups.

While it still has some way to go to reach Twitter’s 400+ million monthly active user base, Meta is already way ahead of Mastadon and can leverage its 2 billion-strong Instagram customer base to help grow adoption.


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Twitter threatens to sue Meta over Threads