If there is a social media phenomenon getting some kind of popularity, Meta will try to jump in. We have seen the company copy different kinds 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 didn’t give out details about when it plans to release the app.
“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,” a Meta spokesperson said.
This new decentralized app, codenamed P92, is still under development — as first reported by MoneyControl. According to the documents seen by the publication, the app will let users log-in through their Instagram credentials. This could irk people who might not want to share that data with another Meta app.
A report by Platformer said that the project will be overseen by Instagram head Adam Mosseri. The company is already involving the legal department to sniff out early privacy concerns before the app is public, the report added.
Meta’s move is seen as its attempt to build a Twitter alternative or a Mastodon competitor. The latter gained popularity after Elon Musk took over Twitter. The decentralized network is part of the Fediverse — a network of decentralized servers — that supports the ActivityPub protocol. Meta’s new app also plans to support ActivityPub, making it easier to connect with other instances like Mastodon, according to MoneyControl.
There are plenty of other tools that have implemented (or are planning to implement) ActivityPub support, including Tumblr, Flipboard and Flickr.
But decentralization is not limited to this protocol. Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky 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 TechCrunch last year that the existence of competing protocols is a good thing.
“I think the diversity of protocol is important, as is the diversity of the applications built on top of the protocols. That said, I strongly believe that interoperability between ActivityPub and Bluesky won’t be difficult. The only thing preventing, for example, interoperability between Twitter and Facebook’s timeline has been protectionist policies by those companies,” he noted.
It’s important to remember that Meta has tried making new apps and experiences that haven’t always taken off. In the past few years, it has killed experiments like the 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, just to name a few. So it won’t be surprising if the new decentralized experience shuts down in a couple of years after the launch.