Twitter has threatened to sue Facebook owner Meta over its new Threads platform, it has been reported.
The company has written to Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg to say it “intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, according to news site Semafor, citing a letter from Twitter lawyer Alex Spiro.
“It demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information,” Mr Spiro reportedly wrote in the letter.
Twitter owner Elon Musk responded to the report on his own platform, writing: “Competition is fine, cheating is not”.
It comes after Meta launched its new Threads platform overnight on Wednesday.
By Thursday afternoon, the tech giant, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, claimed there had been 30 million sign-ups to the new platform.
Threads has been billed by experts as Meta’s answer to Twitter – which has faced a period of upheaval since Mr Musk completed his $44bn takeover in October last year.
The Tesla and SpaceX chief sacked half of Twitter’s 8,000 workers following his buyout.
He also removed the previous verification system – based on notability – and replaced it with his own paid-for Twitter Blue scheme.
According to Semafor, Mr Spiro, in his letter, accused Meta of hiring former Twitter employees who “had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information”.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone responded to the story in a post on Threads.
He wrote: “To be clear: ‘No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee – that’s just not a thing’.”
Built by the Meta’s Instagram team, Threads is billed as a home for “sharing text updates and joining public conversations”.
Posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos of up to five minutes.
They appear in a timeline, and posts can be liked, reposted, replied to, and shared elsewhere. But posts do not appear chronologically, and there seems to be no way to make it so.
People can use their existing Instagram credentials to create a Threads account.
Usernames and verification carry over, meaning Threads could quickly assemble a huge line-up of celebrities, athletes, politicians, sports clubs, news outlets (including Sky News) and brands that already use Instagram.
Early adopters include accounts for Netflix and Star Wars, chef Gordon Ramsay, pop star Shakira, actor Zac Efron, Formula 1 driver Lando Norris, NBA star Seth Curry, and – naturally – Mark Zuckerberg himself.
The threat of legal action between Twitter and Meta comes after their respective CEOs, Mr Musk and Mr Zuckerberg, talked-up the prospect of a cage fight between them.
Amid a discussion about plans for Threads, Meta’s rival Twitter app, Musk tweeted, “I’m sure Earth can’t wait to be exclusively under Zuck’s thumb”, and followed up with “I’m up for a cage match if he is lol.”
Zuckerberg took the bait. “Send me location” he posted on Instagram alongside a screenshot of Musk’s message.
Musk responded simply: “Vegas Octagon”, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) arena in Las Vegas.
UFC president Dana White also weighed in, telling TMZ: “Both guys are absolutely dead serious about this.”