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Meta rebuts claim it hired former Twitter employees to make Threads

A letter reportedly sent by Elon Musk’s lawyer says Meta hired ex-Twitter employees to create Threads.
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Twitter’s rivalry with Meta could turn into a legal battle. 

Meta said Thursday that none of the people working on Threads are former Twitter employees after it was reported that Elon Musk’s attorney sent a letter accusing Meta of misappropriating Twitter’s trade secrets to make its Twitter-like app, Threads. 

“To be clear: ‘No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing,’” Andy Stone, Meta’s communications director, wrote on Threads in response to the letter. 

Spiro wrote in the letter that Twitter “knows” Meta hired “dozens” of former Twitter employees and used their access to Twitter’s trade secrets and confidential information to develop Threads. 

“Twitter has serious concerns that Meta Platforms has engaged in systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property,” reads the letter, which was first reported by the news startup Semafor. 

The cease-and-desist letter also demanded that Meta refrain from collecting data from Twitter without its permission. 

The letter, written by Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, was addressed to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Spiro and the law firm Quinn Emanuel, which represent Twitter’s owner, X Corp., did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Musk responded to a post about Twitter’s threatening to sue Meta, tweeting Thursday afternoon: “Competition is fine, cheating is not.” 

The letter is dated Wednesday, the day Instagram launched Threads, which some consider to be a serious competitor to Twitter.

Threads has gathered over 30 million users, making it the most popular Twitter alternative yet. Other Twitter-like platforms include Mastodon and Bluesky, backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. 

Meanwhile, Twitter’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, the former head of ad sales for NBCUniversal (NBC News is owned by NBCUniversal), appeared to address the attempts to copy the site. 

“We’re often imitated– but the Twitter community can never be duplicated,” Yaccarino tweeted Thursday.

CORRECTION (July 6, 2023, 7:15 p.m. ET): A photo caption in a previous version of this article misstated Elon Musk’s title. He is the owner of Twitter, not the CEO.