July 7, 2023. Mirror (UK) – Billionaire social media wars have been sparked as Elon Musk’s Twitter has threatened to sue Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook parent company Meta over its new rival Threads app, it is reported.
The full letter from Twitter to Meta’s CEO Zuckerberg has emerged on social media and states that Musk’s recently-acquired mega-site “has serious concerns that Meta Platforms (Meta) has engaged in systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property”.
It also claims Meta has hired hired dozens of former Twitter employees to build a “copycat” Twitter clone.
Lawyer for Twitter, Alex Spiro, writes: “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.”
Spiro adds: “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 accuses 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.”
The letter alleges Meta tasked those former Twitter staff with developing “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.”
Musk himself simply tweeted tonight: “Competition is fine, cheating is not.”
It comes as Meta yesterday launched Threads in 100 countries, directly rivalling Twitter.
Twitter has angered fans since Musk rolled out new limitations on the site, and Meta claims Threads has seen 30million sign-ups in under 24 hours.
Semafor quotes a Meta source as saying the accusations are baseless.
The source said: “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing.”
The world’s richest man Musk has seemingly plunged Twitter into near-chaos since buying the giant social media platform for $44billion in 2022.
Users accuse him of degrading the experience and allowing hate to fester by removing censorship and moderation controls.
Musk has removed of verified legacy accounts and changed to Twitter’s dashboard application Tweetdeck.
But one of the biggest controversies has come this week when Musk announced Twitter would temporarily restrict the number of tweets users can read in a day.
The billionaire tech mogul said: “To address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation, we’ve applied the following temporary limits.
“Verified accounts are limited to reading 6000 posts/day. Unverified accounts to 600 posts/day. New unverified accounts to 300/day.”
Mr Musk added it was a “temporary emergency measure” and that Twitter was “getting data pillaged so much that it was degrading service for normal users.”
The change left users logging on to be confronted with a message that read “rate limit exceeded.”
Another change, the introduction of a monthly subscription charge, was also controversial.
Users with the subscription receive the tick and are also able to post longer messages and edit tweets.
The move was criticised by some who think reputable news sources will be harder to find, parodies easier to confuse with a real person and lead to misinformation.
High-profile Twitter users including members of the royals like Prince William, Pope Francis and former President Donald Trump were among those to lose the blue ticks.
Musk’s Twitter caused a backlash among major news organisations when he named them as ‘state-affiliated’ media in April.
This move included the likes of the BBC and NPR.
NPR said it was supported by its listeners and the labelling was “unacceptable” as comparisons were drawn to labels given to the likes of Russia Today.
Russia Today is controlled by Vladimir Putin’s Russia and essentially acts as the mouthpiece of the Kremlin.
The BBC said it was “funded by the British public through the license fee”, but Twitter did not give a description of what it considers to be ‘government funded’ and this label was later removed.
Visually, Threads looks similar to Twitter, with options to post, quote a thread, search, like and reply to posts and view ‘activity’ linked to what you post – which is also the case for Twitter through ‘notifications’.
The column-based design of Twitter also seems to have been replicated by Threads, with users scrolling vertically through the app to view what others are posting.
There is also a verification option, which currently appears to give a blue verified tick to accounts already verified on Instagram.
Unlike Twitter, Threads does not currently have an option of directly messaging other users, and there is no desktop version at the moment.
Other features that Twitter has that Threads does not include lists, bookmarks and the ability to join communities. Threads also does not appear to use hashtags and searching for words and phrases posted by users instead of the names of specific accounts, which has historically been easy to do on Twitter, seems to be limited.
Celebrities have already began flocking to Threads, with singer Shakira posting “Well hello threads”.
Chef Gordon Ramsey posted: “Is this where I find the lamb sauce??”
Meanwhile, businessman Richard Branson wrote: “Thready, steady, go.”
Others have shared their hopes for the new app or expressed their relief from having a new social media tool to use instead of Twitter.