Elon Musk’s lawyers delivered a cease-and-desist letter to Meta on Thursday in response to the company’s introduction of the competing platform Threads. Meta is owned by Mark Zuckerberg.
According to the letter, Meta unlawfully held the trade secrets of the app while employing former Twitter employees to help with the development of Threads. Since the app’s introduction on Wednesday, at least 30 million individuals, according to Zuckerberg, have registered for it.
Alex Spiro, Musk’s personal attorney who also assisted with his takeover of Twitter, addressed Mark Zuckerberg a formal letter raising Twitter’s “serious concerns” about the legality of Threads on the same evening that Meta debuted its new text-based service, as Semafor first reported.
The letter asserts that Meta utilized “Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property” to create Threads, which Insider has corroborated.
Furthermore, Spiro charged in the letter that Meta had employed “dozens of former Twitter employees,” some of whom had “improperly retained Twitter documents and electronic devices.” Additionally, he implied that Meta had been “crawling and scraping” Twitter for information on users and followers by reminding the business that such conduct is “expressly prohibited.” Over the weekend, Twitter abruptly imposed rate limits for all users. After the fact, the firm said that this was done to prevent other businesses from obtaining its data and as an additional measure against bots abusing the network.
Insider was directed to a Threads post by communications director Andy Stone, who stated, “To be clear, no one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing.” Regarding Twitter’s claim that Meta was “scraping” data, Stone responded in a subsequent Threads remark, writing: “Interesting, given that Threads is powered by INSTAGRAM.”
Requests for comment made prior to publication were not immediately answered by representatives of Twitter. Musk tweeted in response to a Twitter account that had shared the letter’s revelation, saying, “Competition is fine, cheating is not.”
Despite the fact that there is and has been employee overlap between Meta and Twitter, a source familiar with both organizations claimed that only a limited number of ex Twitter employees are currently employed by Meta and that none of them appear to be working on Threads. Another person with Twitter knowledge also pointed out that since taking over the social media network in late October, Musk has dismissed or let go thousands of Twitter programmers. Where there were previously more than 3,500 engineers, there are now only roughly 500 left. Furthermore, the insider said that Twitter’s lower-level staff and engineers did not have non-compete clauses that would have prevented them in any way from applying for jobs at Meta or any other digital firm.
Regarding Twitter’s assertion that former workers “retained” their work computers, a former worker claimed that everyone who was let go, sacked, or resigned after Musk’s takeover had their equipment “bricked,” which meant it had been locked and was no longer functional. According to several allegations from former employees, Twitter was supposed to collect the devices from former employees but it took months to do so.
In recent weeks, there has been an increase in perceived hostility between Musk and Zuckerberg. According to Walter Isaacson, Musk’s biographer, the two men even passively aggressively challenged one another to a cage match, which is a very unusual scenario. Since launching Threads on Wednesday, Zuckerberg has publicly criticized Twitter and Elon Musk while boasting about the more than 30 million sign-ups the platform has received to date.
Musk is not someone who is afraid to make erroneous assertions in court occasionally. By claiming that the platform and its executives withheld information from him and that the site was overrun with “bots,” which made it less valuable than he realized, he attempted to back out of his $44 billion plan to acquire Twitter last year. Musk eventually recanted his statements and acknowledged he would have to acquire Twitter.
Ironically, Musk might have thought of the idea before Zuckerberg did to copy Twitter. Twitter claimed that the Tesla billionaire merely invested in the business in an effort to create his own version of the app in the same lawsuit that sought to force Musk to purchase it. Twitter’s lawyers claimed that the company had “very real concerns” that Musk was requesting a lot of data from Twitter to create a rival app while claiming to be worried about “bots.”