With its Threads app, Twitter has threatened legal action.

Meta’s executives have been touting Threads, which released to millions of users on Wednesday, as a “friendly” alternative to Twitter.

Despite Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s statement that “competition is fine, cheating is not,” Meta’s denial of claims that it was supported in the creation of Threads by former Twitter employees was made in a court letter.

Meta reports that the new software has already attracted over 30 million users.

That’s a tiny fraction of the roughly 350 million people that use Twitter every day, as reported by Statista.

Threads’ design and functionality are reminiscent of Twitter, as pointed out by BBC News’ technology writer James Clayton. He noted the “incredibly familiar” nature of the news feed and the reposting.

To win in court, Twitter would have to show that its own intellectual property, such as programming code, was stolen, as US copyright law does not protect ideas.

And in 2012, Meta was awarded a patent for “communicating a newsfeed” — the method by which Facebook shows you the most recent posts.

In a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, Twitter attorney Alex Spiro accused Meta of “systematic, wilful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property” in creating Threads. The story was first reported by the website Semafor.

Mr. Spiro said that Meta “had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information” by hiring dozens of former Twitter workers, who then helped create what he called a “copycat” program called Threads.

In the letter, Twitter warns that it will vigorously defend its intellectual property rights and requests that Meta immediately cease exploiting any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential material.

Without limiting the above, “Twitter reserves all rights,” including the right to pursue legal remedies and injunctive action.

The letter has been viewed by BBC News, which has reached out to both Meta and Twitter for comment.

In response to a tweet on the legal letter, Mr. Musk wrote, “competition is fine, cheating is not.”

No current or previous members of the Threads technical team have ever worked for Twitter, according to a post by Meta spokesman Andy Stone.

Can Threads beat Elon Musk’s Twitter in terms of revenue?
The widespread adoption of Threads by influential people could be problematic for Twitter.
Both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have commented on the competition between Instagram and Facebook’s Threads, which may be used independently.

Mr. Zuckerberg broke his more than 11-year Twitter silence to tweet a popular meme depicting two virtually identical Spider-Man figures pointing at each other in a standoff as it launched in 100 countries.

Mr. Musk quickly responded, saying, “It is infinitely preferable to be attacked by strangers on Twitter, than indulge in the false happiness of hide-the-pain Instagram.” This was as the phrase “Threads” was trending globally on his site.

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