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Elon Vs Zuckerberg: According to Twitter, Meta's Threads is a 'copycat' That Has Poached Dozens of Employees for the Purpose of Misappropriating Their Trade Secrets

July 7, 2023
minute read

Twitter is taking a firm stance against Meta by threatening legal action over its new Threads platform, accusing the company of recruiting former Twitter employees to develop a 'copycat' app. In a letter released on Thursday, Twitter lawyer Alex Spiro expressed serious concerns about Meta's alleged systematic and willful misappropriation of Twitter's trade secrets and intellectual property. Twitter intends to vigorously protect its intellectual property rights and demands that Meta immediately cease using any Twitter trade secrets or confidential information.

Meta, the social media platform owned by Elon Musk, faced the threat of a lawsuit on the same day it launched Threads. Meta's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, positioned Threads as a rival to Twitter and has witnessed significant user sign-ups, with 30 million people joining since its debut.

Spiro accused Meta of hiring numerous former Twitter employees who had access to Twitter's trade secrets and confidential information. He further claimed that Meta deliberately assigned these employees to develop a copycat version of Threads with the intent to utilize Twitter's trade secrets and intellectual property to expedite the development of Meta's competing app.

The letter emphasized that Meta is explicitly prohibited from engaging in any crawling or scraping of Twitter's follower or following data, as stated in Twitter's Terms of Service. It alleged that Meta's app violates both state and federal laws and the ongoing obligations of former Twitter employees to Twitter.

Threads, the Twitter-like app, has garnered mixed reactions following its launch. Some Twitter users have expressed dissatisfaction with bugs and the absence of basic features on Threads, humorously suggesting that people would quickly return to Twitter after trying it. The initial version of Threads lacked the comprehensive functionality and features associated with Twitter. Notably, Threads lacks hashtags, keyword search functions, direct messaging capabilities, and a desktop version that certain users, particularly businesses, rely on.

The launch of Threads and Meta's alleged actions come in the wake of Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022. Since then, his management decisions, including staff reductions and the implementation of limitations on the number of daily tweets, have stirred controversy and led to a decline in Twitter's value. Fidelity recently estimated that Twitter is worth only one-third of Musk's purchase price.

Elon Musk criticized Meta's new platform, likening it to Instagram, also owned by Meta, and accusing it of spreading "false happiness." In response to news of a potential lawsuit, Musk stated on Twitter that competition is acceptable but cheating is not. Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Meta, has not yet responded to the lawsuit threat but has continued posting on Threads as its user base grows.

Threads, which has been dubbed the "Twitter Killer," differentiates itself by allowing longer posts and integrating accounts linked to Instagram. Notable figures such as Chef Gordon Ramsay, pop star Shakira, and Mark Hoyle (known as the YouTuber LadBaby) have joined Threads and actively engaged with the app. The announcement of Threads earlier in the week led to millions of preorders.

Zuckerberg expressed his vision for a public conversations app with over 1 billion users, highlighting Twitter's missed opportunity in achieving this goal. However, the launch of Threads received mixed reactions, with users criticizing bugs and the lack of essential features.

The threat of lawsuits now looms over Threads' launch. Twitter's letter to Meta stated that Twitter reserves all rights, including seeking civil remedies or injunctive relief, without further notice to prevent the retention, disclosure, or use of its intellectual property by Meta. The letter requested Meta to consider it a formal notice and preserve all relevant documents related to recruitment, hiring, onboarding of former Twitter employees, the development of Meta's competing Threads app, and any communications involving these employees.

Meta's significant recruitment of former Twitter employees over the past year, who had access to Twitter's trade secrets and confidential information, was highlighted in the letter. It alleged that Meta deliberately assigned these employees to develop Threads, utilizing Twitter's trade secrets and intellectual property to expedite Meta's app development. The letter also emphasized that Meta is expressly prohibited from crawling or scraping Twitter's follower or following data.

Overall, Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter has brought about significant changes and controversies within the platform. The launch of Meta's Threads has fueled tensions between the rival billionaires, resulting in the potential for legal action as Twitter seeks to protect its intellectual property.

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Adan Harris
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Eric Ng
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John Liu
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Bryan Curtis
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Adan Harris
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