Twitter to sue Meta over ‘copycat’ Threads app

Twitter CEO Elon Musk's lawyers have sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg detailing various grievances over the launch of the new 'Twitter killer' Threads app.
Sejal Sharma
Threads logo on a smartphone with the Twitter profile of Elon Musk in the background
Threads logo on a smartphone with the Twitter profile of Elon Musk in the background

Getty Images 

As the world waits with bated breath for the impending cage fight between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, it seems that the two are headed for a legal battle first.

An attorney at Musk-owned Twitter sent an email to Zuckerberg after the latter launched ‘text-based conversation’ app Threads yesterday, in direct competition to the blue bird app.

The email, which was first reported by Semafor, says, “Based on recent reports regarding your recently launched “Threads” app, Twitter has serious concerns that Meta Platforms (Meta) has engaged in systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”

Shortly after Threads’ launch, Musk tweeted:

Calling it a ‘copycat’ app, the letter further accuses Meta of poaching Twitter employees who had access to the company’s “trade secrets and other highly confidential information.”

It went on to accuse Meta of knowingly hiring its former employees to gain access to Twitter’s internal documents and then deploying those employees to develop a ditto app within a couple of months.

Signed off by Musk’s personal lawyer Alex Spiro, the letter says Meta is in violation of both state and federal laws.

A full copy of the letter can be seen below:

Refuting Musk’s claims, Facebook Communications Director Andy Stone took to Threads and said, “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing.”

Is Musk threatened?

This isn’t the first time that Musk has sent an accusatory email to a bigwig CEO.

In May, Musk via Spiro sent a long email to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella accusing the multinational tech firm of using Twitter’s APIs for free for an elongated period of time and violating multiple provisions of the developers agreement.

Musk also warned Zuckerberg that “Meta is expressly prohibited from engaging in any crawling or scaping of Twitter’s followers or following data.”

It went on to say that crawling any Twitter services like websites, SMS, APIs, email notifications, application, buttons, widgets, ads, etc is permissible, but only if done with Twitter’s prior consent.

Now, we can all understand where Musk is coming from.

He hasn’t exactly had great luck since he acquired Twitter in October 2022.

First a huge number of advertisers left the platform, then Musk fired over 80% of Twitter staff and then the company being riddled with accusations of hate comments and online slander. And help rebuild the company which appeared to be tumbling down like a tower of Jenga blocks, Musk hired a new CEO last month.

But it seems like Linda Yaccarino is more of a figurehead, put in the boss chair to make it seem like everything is not as unhinged inside the bird app as it might appear.

Musk, it seems, is still calling the shots, with the company’s latest stunt last week to put limits on the number of tweets which can be viewed by users meant that the site was rendered useless for many users.

The Twitterati was up in arms over the move, but moreover this could further drive away advertisers, which the company is already short on.

A great start for Threads

Launched on July 6, Threads has amassed over 55 million users in a little over 24 hours.

At this point, it’s too early to tell if Threads will be a hit or a flop. What many Twitter users are finding is that there is a very different style of content on the platform from what they are used to, with many complaining that the type of people they follow on Instagram are not the same as the people they would want to follow on a text-based app like Threads.

The numbers are certainly impressive and the new app is certainly getting more traction than Twitter’s previous rivals like Mastodon and Bluesky. Both started off with great numbers when they launched, but saw a slump after a few months. 

The integration with Instagram and a direct sign up to Threads is a smart move. And there’s growing clamor that the latest entrant could be the real deal. But only time will tell if the initial hype will translate into a money-making machine or the app will slowly make its way towards the graveyard filled with previous Twitter competitors.

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