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If there is a social media phenomenon that becomes popular, Meta will try to jump in. We’ve seen the company copy various types of formats, 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 release details on when they plan to release the app.
“We are exploring a standalone 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 Meta spokesperson.
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 will allow users to log in via their Instagram credentials. This may annoy people who may not want to share this data with another Meta app.
A report from Platformer said the project will be overseen by Instagram CEO 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 the 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 – that supports the ActivityPub protocol. Meta’s new app also plans to support ActivityPub, making it easier to connect to other agencies like Mastodon, according to MoneyControl.
There are many other tools that have implemented (or plan 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 competing protocols are 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 strongly believe that interoperability between ActivityPub and Bluesky will not be difficult. The only thing that prevents, for example, interoperability between Twitter and Facebook’s timeline has been protectionist policies from those companies,” he noted.
It’s important to remember that Meta has tried to create new apps and experiences that haven’t always taken off. Over the past few years, it has killed off 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 just to name a few some. So it won’t be surprising if the new decentralized experience shuts down within a couple of years of its launch.