Twitter is threatening legal action against Meta over its new text-based “Twitter killer” platform, accusing the social media giant of poaching former employees to create a “copycat” application.
On Wednesday, Instagram parent company Meta introduced Threads, a text-based companion to Instagram that resembles Twitter and other text-based social platforms. Just hours later, a lawyer for Twitter, Alex Spiro, sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg accusing the company of engaging in “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”
“Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information,” Spiro wrote in a letter obtained exclusively by Semafor. “Twitter reserves all rights, including, but not limited to, the right to seek both civil remedies and injunctive relief without further notice to prevent any further retention, disclosure, or use of its intellectual property by Meta.”
Spiro accused Meta of hiring dozens of former Twitter employees who “had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information.”
He also alleged that Meta assigned those employees to develop “Meta’s copycat ‘Threads’ app with the specific intent that they use Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property in order to accelerate the development of Meta’s competing app, in violation of both state and federal law as well as those employees’ ongoing obligations to Twitter.”
Andy Stone, Meta’s communications director, told Semafor that Twitter’s accusations are baseless.
“No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing,” he said.
In a tweet posted after this story was initially published on Thursday, Musk wrote that “competition is fine, cheating is not.”
Twitter’s letter is an early sign that Threads is the most serious rival yet to Musk’s chaotic, but still-central, platform.
Since Musk bought Twitter last year, a chorus of dissatisfied voices have complained about the tech billionaire’s rightward political tilt and the site’s degraded user experience. But despite criticism from both opponents of Musk’s politics and users upset with the new owner’s aggressive attempts to charge for Twitter, alternatives that have emerged such as Post.News, Mastodon, and Bluesky have failed to gain mainstream traction and large user bases.
Threads may be the most serious threat yet to take users (and ad dollars) away from Twitter. Meta has the resources to commit serious time and money to competing with Twitter. And it has a built-in network of billions of Instagram users to build on: Threads lets users immediately find and port over their Instagram followers instead of rebuilding their network from scratch. Meta also has long experience hobbling rivals with successful copycats. Instagram Stories stopped Snapchat’s growth, while Reels is muscling through as a TikTok rival.
On Thursday, Zuckerberg announced that Threads had already signed up 30 million users in its first day, vastly dwarfing competitors. (Bluesky last reported that it had 50,000 users.)
Room for Disagreement
The future may be fragmentation, not a new dominant set of platforms.. “There will be no ‘next Twitter,'” argues Every’s Nathan Baschez. “But there will be a shift toward an internet that looks more like it did before Twitter and Facebook became dominant.”
- On Thursday, Zuckerberg posted his first tweet in 11 years:
- Elon Musk has been silent so far about the rollout of Threads, but new Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino seemed to take a well-workshopped shot at Threads: