If a social media phenomenon gains popularity, Meta will try to jump in. We’ve seen the company copy different types of formats ranging from stories to short videos after seeing the success of other platforms. Now the Mark Zuckerberg-led company is working on a decentralized, text-based app.
Meta confirmed this development in a statement, but did not provide details on when it plans to release the app.
“We are exploring a self-contained decentralized social network for sharing text updates. We believe there is an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests,” said a spokesperson for Meta.
This new decentralized app, codenamed P92, is still in development, as first reported by MoneyControl. According to the documents seen by the publication, the app lets users log in using their Instagram credentials. This may annoy people who may not want to share that data with another Meta app.
A report from Platformer said the project will be overseen by Instagram head Adam Mosseri. The company is already engaging the legal department to track down early privacy issues before the app goes public, the report said.
Meta’s move is seen as an attempt to build a Twitter alternative or a Mastodon competitor. The latter became popular after Elon Musk took over Twitter. The decentralized network is part of Fediverse – a network of decentralized servers – which supports the ActivityPub protocol. Meta’s new app also plans to support ActivityPub, making it easier to connect to other instances like Mastodon, according to MoneyControl.
There are plenty of other tools that have implemented (or plan to implement) ActivityPub support, including Tumblr, Flipboard, and Flickr.
But decentralization is not limited to this protocol. Bluesky, backed by Jack Dorsey, launched its iOS app in beta last week. And messaging apps like Rocket.chat have embraced the Matrix protocol.
However, former Twitter engineer Blaine Cook told AapkaDost last year that the existence of competing protocols is a good thing.
“I think the diversity of protocols is important, as is the diversity of the applications built on top of the protocols. That said, I’m confident that interoperability between ActivityPub and Bluesky won’t be difficult. For example, the only thing preventing interoperability between Twitter and Facebook’s timeline is the protectionist policies of those companies,” he noted.
It’s important to remember that Meta has been trying to create new apps and experiences that haven’t always taken off. In recent years, it has killed experiments like anonymous teen app tbh, Cameo-like app Super, Nextdoor clone Neighborhoods, couples app Tuned, student-focused social network Campus, video speed dating service Sparked, and TikTok clone Lasso. name a few. So it won’t be surprising if the new decentralized experience stops within a few years of launch.