Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, has formally written to Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, and threatened to sue Meta over its new Threads app. Musk has accused Meta of copying Twitter’s features and violating Twitter’s intellectual property. He has also argued that Threads is a “blatant rip-off” of Twitter and that it is “unfair competition.”
In his letter to Zuckerberg, Musk wrote: “I am writing to you today to express my deep concern about Meta’s recent launch of the Threads app. As you know, Twitter is a platform that allows users to share short messages with the public. Threads is a clone of Twitter that copies many of Twitter’s features, including the ability to share short messages, photos, and videos. I believe that Meta’s launch of Threads is a blatant rip-off of Twitter and that it is unfair competition.”
Musk has also threatened to sue Meta if the company does not stop copying Twitter’s features. He wrote: “I am giving you this notice to cease and desist from copying Twitter’s features. If you do not comply with this notice, I will be forced to take legal action against you. I am confident that I will prevail in court.”
It is unclear how Meta will respond to Musk’s threats. However, the company has a history of copying other companies’ features. For example, Meta’s Instagram app was originally a clone of Snapchat. It is possible that Meta will simply ignore Musk’s threats or that it will try to negotiate a settlement.
The letter reads
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:
I write on behalf of X Corp., as successor in interest to Twitter, Inc. (“Twitter”). Based on recent reports regarding your recently launched “Threads” app, Twitter has serious concerns that Meta Platforms (Meta”) has engaged in systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.
Over the past year, Meta has hired dozens of former Twitter employees. Twitter knows that these employees previously worked at Twitter; that these employees had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information; that these employees owe ongoing obligations to Twitter; and that many of these employees have improperly retained Twitter documents and electronic devices. With that knowledge, Meta deliberately assigned these employees to develop, in a matter of months, 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.
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.
Further, Meta is expressly prohibited from engaging in any crawling or scraping of Twitter’s followers or following data. As set forth in Twitter’s Terms of Service, crawling any Twitter services – including, but not limited to, any Twitter websites, SMS, APIs, email notifications, applications, buttons, widgets, ads, and commerce services – is permissible only “if done in accordance with the provisions of the robots.txt file” available at https://twitter.com/robots.txt.
The robots.txt file specifically disallows crawling of Twitter’s followers or following data.
Scraping any Twitter services is expressly prohibited for any reason without Twitter’s prior consent. Twitter reserves all rights, including, but not limited to, the right to seek both civil remedies or iniunctive relief without further notice.
Please consider this letter a formal notice that Meta must preserve any documents that could be relevant to a dispute between Twitter, Meta, and/or former Twitter employces who now work for Meta. That includes, but is not limited to, all documents related to the recruitment, hiring, and onboarding of these former Twitter employees, the development of Meta’s competing Threads app, and any communications between these former Twitter employees and any agent, representative, or employee or Meta.
Very truly yours,
cc: Elon Musk
The dispute between Musk and Meta is a reminder of the intense competition in the social media industry. Twitter and Meta are two of the leading social media companies in the world, and they are constantly trying to one-up each other. It will be interesting to see how this dispute plays out.