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Twitter Contemplates Legal Action Against Meta's Threads App

09.07.2023 09:47 AM
Twitter Contemplates Legal Action Against Meta's Threads App
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Twitter Contemplates Legal Action Against Meta's Threads App
Twitter is reportedly considering taking legal action against Meta due to its rapidly growing rival app, Threads. Launched on Wednesday, Threads is being touted by Meta as a "friendly" alternative to Twitter. Elon Musk, CEO of Twitter, stated that competition is acceptable but cheating is not. However, Meta has denied allegations made in a legal letter claiming that former Twitter employees were involved in the development of Threads.

Meta claims that over 30 million users have already signed up for Threads, although this figure represents less than a tenth of Twitter's estimated 350 million users, according to Statista. Comparisons have been made between the two platforms, with BBC News technology reporter James Clayton noting the similarity in look and feel, including the news feed and reposting features.

For Twitter to succeed in a potential legal battle, it would need to prove that its intellectual property, such as programming code, was unlawfully used by Threads. However, ideas are not protected under US copyright law. Meta holds a patent for a "communicating a newsfeed" system, which Facebook utilizes.

According to a letter from Twitter attorney Alex Spiro to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Meta has been accused of "systematic, wilful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter's trade secrets and other intellectual property" in the creation of Threads. The letter further alleges that Meta hired numerous former Twitter employees who had access to confidential information, which aided in the development of the "copycat" Threads app.

The letter asserts Twitter's intention to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights and demands that Meta cease using any Twitter trade secrets or highly confidential information. Twitter reserves the right to pursue civil remedies and injunctive relief without further notice.

BBC News has reached out to both Meta and Twitter for comment on this matter.

Elon Musk responded to a tweet about the legal letter by stating that competition is acceptable but cheating is not.

Meanwhile, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone posted on Threads that none of the Threads engineering team consists of former Twitter employees, denying the allegations made in the letter.

The impact of Threads on Twitter's profitability remains uncertain. However, industry experts, like Sarah Kunst from Cleo Capital, believe Threads could offer a "brand-safe environment" for current Instagram advertisers. Kunst suggests that advertisers may allocate some budget to Threads to assess its potential. While the initial rush of 30 million users might be temporary, continued growth is expected due to the app's easy cross-posting capabilities.

Both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have acknowledged the rivalry between Threads and Twitter. To mark Threads' global launch in 100 countries, Zuckerberg broke his 11-year Twitter silence and shared a popular meme featuring two nearly identical Spider-Man figures pointing at each other, indicating a standoff. In response, as the word "Threads" trended worldwide on Twitter, Musk commented, "It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram."
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