Monday, July 10, 2023

If you can’t beat ’em, sue ’em.

“Competition is fine, cheating is not.” That’s what Elon Musk tweeted after Twitter’s lawyer’s cease and desist letter to Mark Zuckerberg went public.

Twitter accuses Meta of engaging “in systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”

The problem, however, is that according to Meta, “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing.” 

Saying something is illegal and proving something is illegal are two totally different things. The biggest problem with Twitter’s trade secret argument is that there’s nothing secret about much of Twitter’s underlying code. It’s open source, available on the internet for anyone to download.

There is also nothing “secret” about how Twitter looks. It’s a “social” network. Publicness is its thing. In that regard Threads is no different than Mastodon, Post, Bluesky or any of the other Twitter clones that have launched since Elon started Twitter’s dumpster fire.

Threads, however, is different in one key aspect — success. Its launch is the most successful in social media history, collecting more than 100 million users in its first 5 days. It’s the most rapidly downloaded app ever, and one the fasted adopted consumer products of all time. By comparison, TikTok took 9 months to reach 100 millions users. Instagram took 2.5 years. Google, Facebook, and Twitter each took 5 years. 

According to Bloomberg, Threads is “the most serious threat yet to Elon Musk’s struggling social media site.”

And that’s the point. Musk is scared of a little ol’ fashioned competition, so he accuses Meta of cheating. If you can’t beat ’em, sue ’em. Unless you love hemorrhaging money to your lawyers, however, this isn’t the best business strategy. 

You can find me on Threads @thejonhyman.