Following the rapid success of Meta’s newly launched messaging app Threads, Twitter has issued a threat of legal action, claiming that Meta stole their trade secrets during the creation of the rival platform. Within hours of its debut, Threads attracted tens of millions of users, positioning it as a direct competitor to Elon Musk’s Twitter.
Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO, announced that over 30 million people had signed up for Threads within 24 hours, potentially making it the fastest-downloaded consumer app at launch, surpassing OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
In a letter dated Wednesday and addressed to Zuckerberg, Twitter’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, accused Meta of engaging in “systemic, wilful, and unlawful misappropriation” of Twitter’s trade secrets and intellectual property. The letter claimed that Meta had recruited numerous former Twitter employees who had access to highly confidential information about the platform and had retained Twitter documents and electronic devices without authorization.
According to Twitter, Meta intentionally instructed these employees to develop Threads, which is a violation of both state and federal laws.
Both Twitter and Meta declined to comment on the matter. The letter was first reported by Semafor and verified by two individuals familiar with the situation.
Elon Musk, who purchased Twitter for $44 billion in October, responded to a Twitter user sharing the news by stating, “Competition is fine, cheating is not.”
Regarding the allegation that former Twitter employees were involved in the development of Threads, Meta’s communications director, Andy Stone, pointed to a quote in the Semafor report attributed to an anonymous Meta source, stating, “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee—that’s just not a thing.”
Threads, described as a “text-based conversation app,” enables users to share posts up to 500 characters long, incorporating links, photos, and videos. Similar to Twitter, these posts can be replied to, liked, or shared by others. Some users have even dubbed Threads as the “Twitter killer.”
Although Threads lacks certain functionalities compared to Twitter, it is directly linked to Instagram, allowing users to seamlessly transfer their usernames and existing networks. Mark Zuckerberg expressed his satisfaction with the app, stating, “This is as good of a start as we could have hoped for!” and positioning it as a “friendly” alternative to Twitter.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT took five days to reach 1 million users, establishing it as the fastest-growing consumer app ever. UBS analysts reported that it achieved 100 million monthly active users in just two months. Given the pace of Threads’ growth, it suggests that it will surpass that milestone in a matter of days.
Threads made a significant impact as Elon Musk’s decisions to reduce platform moderation and introduce abrupt and unexplained changes to the product and its policies have alienated some users and advertisers. For instance, Musk faced criticism from Twitter users when he implemented temporary limits on the number of posts viewable, citing the need to address data scraping and system manipulation.
Additionally, Musk has downsized Twitter’s workforce by approximately 80% and implemented drastic cost-cutting measures to avoid bankruptcy.
In its letter, Twitter demanded that Meta immediately cease using any Twitter trade secrets and highly confidential information. Twitter explicitly reserved the right to pursue both civil remedies and injunctive relief. Furthermore, Meta was warned of their explicit prohibition from engaging in any crawling or scraping of Twitter’s followers or following data.