Twitter is squaring up for a fight with Meta over its Threads app, which gained 70 million new users this week.
According to news reports, Twitter’s legal team delivered a cease and desist letter to Meta on July 5. That’s after Twitter spent the weekend largely unavailable to anyone without a Twitter account—thanks to last-minute changes from CEO Elon Musk. The cease and desist letter accuses Meta of misappropriating trade secrets by hiring former Twitter employees who retained proprietary information.
“Over the past year, Meta has hired dozens of former Twitter employees,” the letter reads. “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.”
When Elon Musk took over Twitter in October 2022, he cut its 7,500 workforce by more than 75%. Musk continued to make cuts to Twitter’s workforce after promising the cuts would end in November 2022. At least 200 people were let go in February 2023, with many employees receiving little to no advance notice of their termination. Twitter has experienced at least four rounds of layoffs since Musk’s takeover.
“No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee—that’s just not a thing,” said Meta spokesperson Andy Stone in a post on Threads addressing the allegations in the cease and desist letter. Threads itself is a recycled concept that Meta retired in 2021, only to revive now that Twitter’s wings are clipped under its new ownership.