Twitter threatens legal action over the Topics app

  • Written by Bernd Debussmann Jr
  • BBC News, Washington, DC

image source, Getty Images

Twitter is considering legal action against Meta over its fast-growing rival topic app.

Threads, launched to millions on Wednesday, is similar to Twitter and has been touted by Meta bosses as a “friendly” alternative.

“Competition is good, cheating isn’t,” said Twitter’s Elon Musk — but Meta denied allegations in a legal letter that former Twitter employees helped create Thread.

According to Meta, more than 30 million people have signed up for the new app.

BBC News technology reporter James Clayton noted that the look and feel of Threads is similar to Twitter. He said the news feed and repost were incredibly familiar.

In a move first reported Semaphore news outletTwitter attorney Alex Spiro sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday accusing Meta of “systematic, willful, and illegal misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property” to create leads.

Specifically, Mr. Spiro alleged that Meta employed dozens of former Twitter employees who “had and still have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other top-secret information” that ultimately helped Meta develop what he called a “mock-up” threading app.

“Twitter intends to vigorously enforce its intellectual property rights, and requires Meta to take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information,” the letter read.

Twitter reserves all rights, including, without limitation, the right to seek civil damages and injunctive relief without further notice.

“Competition is good, cheating is not,” Mr. Musk said, in response to a Twitter post referring to the legal rhetoric.

On Threads, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone posted that “No one on the thread engineering team is an ex-Twitter employee — that’s not my thing.”

Both Mr. Musk and Mr. Zuckerberg have acknowledged competing on Instagram-related threads but operate as a standalone app.

When it launched in 100 countries, Zuckerberg broke more than 11 years of silence on Twitter to post a wildly popular meme of two nearly identical Spider-Man characters pointing at each other, suggesting a confrontation.

Soon after, as word of the “threads” spread globally on his platform, Musk said, “It’s infinitely better to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than to indulge in the false happiness of hiding pain on Instagram.”

Twitter CEO Linda Iaccarino said in a tweet Thursday that while the platform, which previously reported about 260 million monthly users, is “often imitated” it “can never be duplicated.”

Both Meta and Twitter have laid off a significant number of employees this year, with Meta announcing in April that it would cut employee levels by about 10,000.

Twitter lost a significant proportion of its 7,500 employees, as much as 80%, in waves of layoffs after Musk seized power last October.

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