Meta Is Developing a Social Network That Could Rival Twitter

Meta Platforms is said to be considering the launch of a decentralized federated app powered by ActivityPub, the framework used by Twitter, Mastodon and others, according to a report originating in Mumbai-based Moneycontrol, which says the app, codenamed P92, will be “Instagram-branded,” allowing users to login using their Instagram credentials. A Meta spokesperson confirmed to Moneycontrol “we’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates. We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”

The fact that it sounds a lot like Twitter was not lost on Moneycontrol, which writes that “this development comes at a time when technology companies and startups are eyeing an opportunity to capitalize on the growing trend of Twitter users looking to migrate to alternative platforms even as the social media platform struggles to cope with the chaos caused under the new owner Elon Musk.”

Since Musk purchased Twitter last year, several rivals have captured public attention. In addition to Mastodon, and T2 have gained traction, while Jack-Dorsey-backed Bluesky recently opened in beta as an invite-only app.

Business Insider details several platforms and startups — such as Discord, Hive Social, Clubhouse, Cohost and Spill — “looking to be the next big thing.”

Moneycontrol says its unclear whether P92 is being explored at the idea stage or is in active development, quoting a source calling it “a work in progress.”

“‘The plan as of now is that the MVP (minimum viable product) will definitely allow our users to broadcast posts to people on other servers. It may or may not enable our users to follow and view the content of people on other servers,” said a source aware of the thinking on the matter,” according to Moneycontrol.

Platformer concurs that “details about the project are scant,” but adds that “legal and regulatory teams have already started to investigate potential privacy concerns around the app so they can be addressed before launch.” The most noteworthy aspect of the project, observers say, is Meta’s intent to make it decentralized.

“In a decentralized network individual users are typically able to set up their own, independent servers and set server-specific rules for how content is moderated,” writes Platformer, noting “a decentralized network could also give Meta the opportunity for its new app to interoperate with other social products — a previously unheard-of gesture from a company known for building some of the most lucrative walled gardens in the industry’s history.”

The move comes as Silicon Valley “is re-thinking the value of forcing users into centralized services,” Platformer reports, adding that “services like Facebook benefit from relative ease of use, and a data collection model that enables lucrative advertising services, but they have also drawn massive regulatory scrutiny for their top-down approach to content moderation and their efforts to thwart competition by making it harder to switch networks.”

Meta Is Building a Decentralized Twitter Competitor, Engadget, 3/10/23
Spill CEO Promotes His Twitter Alternative App at SXSW, Axios, 3/13/23

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