A lawyer representing Elon Musk’s X Corp., which owns Twitter, has sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, accusing his company Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, of “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property” in the creation of its new Threads app. The app, which launched Wednesday, is “Instagram’s text-based conversation app”; its Apple App Store description shows images that encourage users to “connect over conversation” and “share your point of view.”
In the letter, first reported on by Semafor, attorney Alex Spiro accused Meta of hiring “dozens” of former Twitter employees, alleging 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.” Spiro further alleges that Meta “deliberately” tasked these employees with making a Twitter “copycat” app using the company’s trade secrets. Doing so, Spiro says, violated state and federal laws.
Spiro threatens Zuckerberg with seeking legal remedies to stop the Threads app and warns him against Meta “crawling or scraping Twitter’s followers or following data.”
“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 employees who now work for Meta,” Spiro writes. “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.”
Spiro did not return Rolling Stone‘s request for further comment.
Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Meta, replied to Rolling Stone’s request for comment with a link to a Threads post. “To be clear,” he wrote, ‘No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing.’”
Musk, who purchased Twitter in October and has rolled out many unpopular changes to the app, has not tweeted about or commented on the letter. On Wednesday, though, he wrote: “It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram.”
Since launching, Threads has reported signing up more than 30 million new users worldwide, according to the BBC. Zuckerberg has said that keeping Threads “friendly… will ultimately be the key to its success.” But pushing friendliness aside, he still goaded Musk on. “Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it,” he said. “Hopefully we will.”