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Twitter Could Face Difficulties Showing Meta Stole Trade Secrets for Threads

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Twitter‘s claim that Meta Platforms stole trade secrets to build its new microblogging site may be the first volley in a legal battle between the social media giants, but experts say Twitter would have to clear a high hurdle if it sues. 

In a letter sent on Wednesday, Twitter alleged that Meta used its trade secrets to develop its new social media platform, Threads, and demanded that it stop using the information. Twitter said that Meta had hired dozens of former Twitter employees, many of whom “improperly retained” devices and documents from the company, and said Meta “deliberately” assigned them to work on Threads.

It was unclear whether any lawsuit would be filed.

A spokesperson for Twitter did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in a Threads post on Thursday that no one on the site’s engineering team is a former Twitter employee. 

Legal experts said that while many companies have accused competitors that hired former employees and have a similar product of stealing trade secrets, the cases are difficult to prove.

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To win, a company needs to show its competitor took information that was economically valuable and which the company had taken “reasonable efforts” to keep secret, said Polk Wagner, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

But the question of what constitutes a “reasonable effort” can be tricky, he said.

“The courts are pretty clear that you can’t just wave your hands and say something is a trade secret. On the other hand, you don’t have to lock everything down so much that nobody can use the information,” Wagner said.

See also  Facebook Parent Meta to Modify Cross-Check Feature for VIP Posts

Designating ‘secrets’

Meta launched Threads on Wednesday in what could be the first real threat to Twitter, which has alienated many users and advertisers since billionaire Elon Musk bought the microblogging site last year. 

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Threads shares some resemblance to Twitter, as do the numerous other social media sites that have cropped up in the last several months.

One element courts look at is whether a company made clear to employees that the specific information at issue was a trade secret.

Sharon Sandeen, a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, said that companies have lost trade-secret cases when they claimed that employees were bound by broad agreements designating all the company’s information as confidential.

Courts have said that employees have no way of knowing from such sweeping language what is and is not confidential, she said. 

Companies often bring trade-secret cases only to find their claims are not as strong as they thought, experts said.

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Sandeen pointed to the high-profile legal battle between Alphabet‘s Waymo self-driving vehicle unit and ride-share company Uber Technologies. The case began with allegations of thousands of stolen documents, and ended with a dispute over a small handful, she said.

Uber settled the case on the eve of trial for $245 million (nearly Rs. 2,000 crore) worth of its own shares.

While trials are rare in trade-secret cases, settlements are common, said Wagner.

“The incentives to settle in these sorts of cases are especially strong because nobody wants the secrets being discussed more than necessary,” he said.

See also  Twitter Said to Have Clarified to Staff That There Are No Plans for Layoffs

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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From the Nothing Phone 2 to the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, several new smartphones are expected to make their debeut in July. We discuss all of the most exciting smartphones coming this month and more on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Reddit Rolls Out Contributor Program, Offering Real Money for Gold and Karma

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Reddit, the popular social networking platform, is starting a new contributor program, which will let users convert their Reddit gold and karma into real money. Reddit made the announcement in a blog post, alongside bringing a new simplified way to award content on its platform with Reddit gold. Eligible Redditors will receive actual money for their contributions on a monthly basis. Reddit gold is awarded by other Redditors to users for their content on the platform, while karma — the number next to a username on Reddit — is accumulated over time by posting and commenting.

Reddit announced the contributor program on Monday, promising real (fiat) money to qualifying redditors and mods for their contributions to the platform. A qualifying Redditor must be 18 years or older, live in a supported location, and must have a Reddit account. “Once enrolled in the program, redditors will receive payments on a monthly basis. The earnings a redditor receives are calculated based on the amount of karma earned and gold received on their eligible contributions,” Reddit’s blog post said.

The contributor program is now rolling out in the US across Web, iOS and Android Reddit apps. Users can head to the program via their profile menu, where eligible users can tap the ‘Get Verified to Start Earning’ button to enrol in the program. Reddit has not revealed details about the payout for users.

The company has also brought a simplified way to give away Reddit gold to users. With the new gold system, users can long press the upvote icon on mobile (or hover over it on desktop) directly within the post or comment they want to reward and select from a pop-up of six gold awarding options, ranging from $1.99 (roughly Rs. 165) for one gold to $49.00 (roughly Rs. 4,077) for 25 gold. This will result in a golden upvote in place of a regular one. This feature is only available in select communities on Reddit’s native mobile apps and will reach other communities in the coming weeks. The new gold system will be available on Web later this year.

See also  Twitter Said to Have Clarified to Staff That There Are No Plans for Layoffs

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Reddit’s new gold system

Photo Credit: Reddit

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Reddit is making efforts to reward its contributors months after thousands of popular subreddits went dark in protest against the company’s plan to charge for access to its data. Reddit now charges third-party app developers for access to its for its application programming interface (API). As a result, many popular third-party apps for the platform, including Apollo, have had to shut down. Apollo had said, with their current usage, the charges would cost them more than $20 million (roughly Rs. 160 crore) a year.


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Elon Musk’s X Could Bring Audio and Video Calling Feature to Premium Subscribers

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X, formerly known as Twitter, has been promised to get an audio and video calls feature. Last month, Elon Musk, who took over the social media platform in October last year, had tweeted that a voice and video calling feature was coming to X, confirming that calls would work on iOS, Android, Mac & PC and would not require a phone number. The much-awaited audio and video calls feature, however, might not be available to all X users. According to leaked screenshots of part of X’s code that pertain to the feature, only X Premium subscribers could have access to audio and video calls.

Investor Chris Messina posted screenshots of X’s code on rival app Threads (first spotted by TechCrunch), which suggests that users could be able to take audio and video calls from people in their address book, people they follow, and Verified users. The screenshot suggests that the feature would allow users to opt in or out and decide who to receive calls from. “Take messaging to the next level with audio and video calls. Turn the feature on and then select who you’re comfortable using it with,” the feature’s description says in the code screenshot.

More interestingly, a second screenshot hints that the feature could be a paid service as part of the X Premium subscription. “Audio and video calls are a premium feature. Subscribe to get access,” and “Subscribe to Premium to call,” the code appears to read under the section ‘when someone tries to DM someone and hits their rate limit.’

X Premium, that launched as Twitter Blue, adds a host of features for paying subscribers, including the verification badge, reduced number of ads on the feed, longer posts, and the ability to edit posts. On the Web, X Premium costs $8 per month or $84 per year (Rs. 650/month or Rs. 6,800/year). On both iOS and Android, the subscription costs $11 a month or $114.99 a year (Rs. 900 a month or Rs. 9,400 a year).

See also  Meta Expected to Roll Out Web Version for Threads by This Week: Report

Musk intends to transform X into an “everything app” in the mould of China’s WeChat, offering social networking, calling and messaging, and even in-app payments. The Tesla CEO has also sought to monetize services on X. In a recent meeting with Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Musk reportedly said that X would charge its users a small monthly fee to use the platform. Musk said moving towards a monthly payment system could counter bots from amplifying hate speech on the platform.

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Telegram Adds New Features Including Reaction Stickers, Music in Stories, and More

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Telegram launched the stories feature for premium users in July, which was later available for all users in August. Now, the company has added new updates to the feature, allowing users to add music and reaction stickers to the stories. Moreover, users can directly send and share media in view-once mode, which can be changed anytime. Telegram has now extended the ability to put up stories to channels. In order to do so, they need to receive boots from their users. 

In August, Telegram made its Stories feature available to all users. It works similarly to Instagram Stories and lets users put up stories for 6, 12, 24 or 48 hours. Now, the social media platform has extended the ability to post stories for Telegram Channels. However, they will be dependent on a boost from Premium users to do so. Telegram Premium will provide one boost per user that can be granted to any channel. As the channels gain boosts, they will step up to different levels. With each level, channel admins can post an additional story per day. Users can still decide the Channels on which they wish to see stories. Channels can check how many boosts they need to grow their level by going to Channel Info > More > Statistics > Boosts

Another update is the ability to add reaction stickers and music to the stories. Users and channels can put up reaction stickers, and viewers can respond to them with a single tap. In order to add a reaction sticker, users can click on the icon in the sticker panel and choose any emoji from the provided options. While Premium users can add up to 5 reaction stickers per story, other users will be allowed only one reaction sticker per story. Users can add music to their stories by going to Audio > Select file >  Adjust the track. They can also choose to keep the original audio.

See also  Meta Verified Service Now Rolls Out in the US at Monthly Charge of $11.99

Similar to WhatsApp and Instagram, users can send media on Telegram with a view-once mode. Users can switch between a view-once setting or a 30-second display mode. View-once mode will permanently delete the media file once opened, and the viewer cannot save it or take screenshots. 

Last but not least, Telegram will send a login alert to users every time they log in from a new device. They can also review all the devices they are logged on by going to Settings > Devices. For an additional security layer, users can add two-step verification. To do so, they need to go to Settings > Privacy and Security > Two-Step Verification.

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