Threads: Twitter threatens legal action against Meta for 'copycat' alternative app - allegations explained

Lawyer Alex Spiro accused Meta of poaching employees who have access to Twitter's trade secrets in a letter released on Thursday (6 July)

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Twitter has threatened to take legal action against Meta over its new social media platform Threads, claiming Mark Zuckerberg has hired former employees with access to the company's trade secrets to help create the rival app.

Meta revealed Threads on Wednesday (5 July), a text-based platform partnered with Instagram that has a very similar interface to Twitter and other social applications. It comes off the back of the Elon Must-owned company introducing limits on the number of posts you can see, with the number varying depending on whether you are a free or premium subscriber.

A matter of hours after Threads was unveiled to the world, Twitter attorney Alex Spiro sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg alleging that Meta is guilty of “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property", according to Semafor.

Here is everything you need to know about the legal case put forward by Twitter against Meta for its Threads social platform.

What did Twitter's legal letter say?

Threads has been accused of being a "copycat app" by a Twitter attorney - Credit: AdobeThreads has been accused of being a "copycat app" by a Twitter attorney - Credit: Adobe
Threads has been accused of being a "copycat app" by a Twitter attorney - Credit: Adobe

In the legal letter released on Thursday (6 July), Alex Spiro wrote: "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. 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 also 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", assigning those workers 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.”

What have Meta said in response to Twitter's legal letter?

Responding to the allegations levied by Twitter and its lawyer Alex Spiro, Meta communications director Andy Stone told Semafor: "No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing".

Twitter owner Elon Musk also took to his own social platform to comment on the situation, posting a brief reaction which says: "competition is fine, cheating is not."

National World has reached out to Meta and Twitter for further comment and are awaiting a reply.

How many users does Threads have compared to Twitter?

Threads has emerged as a rightful and serious competitor to Twitter ever since its release earlier this week and has already exploded in popularity, with users flocking to the Meta platform in the aftermath of the recent controversy and issues ever since Musk's acquisition.

According to Quiver Quantitative, an aggregator that keeps track of user activity on popular platforms, Threads already has accrued over 60 million users. In comparison, Bank My Cell notes that Twitter has a user base of 353.9 million.