By Editor: July 7th, 2023.
Twitter owner Elon Musk has accused Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and threads of “cheating” with the recent launch of a rival social network called Threads.
Twitter threatened to sue Meta over “systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation” of Twitter’s trade secrets and intellectual property, as well as scraping of Twitter’s data, in a cease-and-desist letter sent to Mark Zuckerberg by Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro. The letter was first reported by Semafor.
In the legal letter, Spiro claimed ex-Twitter staff helped create the “copycat” Threads app. In an interview with the BBC in April, Musk said Twitter had laid off more than 6,000 employees, around 80% of its workforce, following his $44 billion purchase of the company. “Competition is fine, cheating is not,” Musk said in a tweet. Meta has denied the claims.
Competition is fine, cheating is not
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2023
Threads, which launched this week and already has more than 30 million users, is pitched as a “friendly” alternative to Twitter. Twitter currently has an estimated 350 million users.
According to an SEC filing from 2013, it took Twitter four years to build the same number of users that Threads gained in a day – though Twitter grew its userbase from scratch, while Threads was able to tap into the pre-existing two billion monthly users Meta says Instagram has.
Twitter’s letter is a legal threat only, and it has yet to file a lawsuit. According to the BBC, for Twitter to be successful in any legal claim, it would have to prove its own intellectual property, such as programming code, was taken and used without permission.
In the letter, Spiro accuses Meta of hiring dozens of former Twitter employees who “had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information”.
“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,” the letter says.
“Twitter reserves all rights, including, but not limited to, the right to seek both civil remedies and injunctive relief without further notice.”
On Threads, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said “no one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee – that’s just not a thing”. And in 2012 Meta was granted a patent for “communicating a newsfeed” – the system that displays all the latest posts when you use Facebook, which is very similar to the underlying methodology of both Twitter and Threads.
With a new social media app for people to join, the internet has been vocal about how they feel about Meta’s new internet endeavor. The launch of Threads also sparked Zuckerberg’s first tweet in 11 years.
Both Meta and Twitter have undertaken significant layoffs this year, with Meta announcing in April that it would cut staff levels by approximately 10,000.
Twitter lost a large proportion of its 7,500 employees, as high as 80%, in waves of redundancies following Mr Musk’s takeover last October. It is not known how many former Twitter employees may have joined Threads.
In case users are confused, what is called a Tweet in Twitter is called a Thread in Threads.
Source: IGN, BBC.