In a clear indication of Twitter’s apprehension towards Meta, the company is now threatening to sue Meta after the successful launch of Meta’s new Twitter killer app, Threads.
A letter from an attorney representing Twitter, addressed to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, accuses the company of engaging in trade secret theft by hiring former Twitter employees. Semafor first reported the letter.
The letter, penned by Alex Spiro, an external lawyer for Elon Musk, alleges that Meta has committed “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”
In response to reports about the letter, Musk tweeted, “Competition is fine, cheating is not.”
The letter further claims that Meta recruited former Twitter employees who retained confidential Twitter documents and electronic devices, and knowingly involved them in the development of Threads.
Spiro went on to assert that Twitter intends to vigorously protect its intellectual property rights and demands that Meta immediately cease the use of any Twitter trade secrets or highly confidential information.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone outright dismissed the letter, stating, “None of the Threads engineering team consists of former Twitter employees—that’s simply not the case,” during a statement on Threads.
Since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion, the social media platform has faced challenges from various smaller microblogging platforms, including the decentralized social network Mastodon and Bluesky, an alternative supported by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. However, Twitter has not threatened legal action against either of them.
Unlike other Twitter rivals, Threads has experienced rapid growth, with Zuckerberg announcing more 40 million user sign-ups on the app’s first day. As of Thursday afternoon, Threads ranked as the top free app on the iOS App Store.
While the legal threat may not necessarily result in litigation, it could be part of a strategy to impede Meta’s progress, according to Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.
“Sometimes lawyers issue threats without following through or test the limits of their claims. That may be the case, but it’s uncertain,” Tobias told CNN. He added, “Engaging in litigation and creating complications for Meta might hold some value.”