Meta, the parent company of Instagram, is testing a new decentralized social media app to rival Elon Musk’s Twitter, according to reports.
The app, which is being called “Instagram for your thoughts,” is designed to be a place for users to share short, text-based posts.
Lia Haberman, a Substack writer who teaches about social and influencer marketing at the University of California, first posted the news in a newsletter and on Twitter on Friday. The report was later picked up by several news publications including Bloomberg.
Meta targets celebrities
In her report, Haberman revealed the Twitter competitor is built on the back of Instagram, but it will be compatible with other decentralized social networks like Mastodon. She said Meta is secretly meeting with “select creators” to test the new app, which could launch late June.
Haberman posted what are thought to be the first images of the app codenamed “Project 92, P92, and Barcelona,” a post originally packaged as a marketing article. Neither Meta nor Instagram have confirmed any official app name or details about the app or how it will work.
Based on a (somewhat blurry) example I got, Meta's new app looks a lot like Twitter.
So, could this take over all the Twitter screenshots we've been seeing on the Feed lately? Maybe.
It’s impossible to predict how audiences will respond but this could be an alternative. pic.twitter.com/xgQa1kUjCl
— Lia Haberman (@liahaberman) May 19, 2023
In March, however, Meta told Platformer it was “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.”
What can the app do?
Bloomberg reported Meta has been testing its app with celebrities and influencers for several months, citing people familiar with the matter. The article, which confirmed Haberman’s report, said none of the celebrities “has had access to the full version of the app.”
According to Haberman, the new app is being built on top of Instagram’s infrastructure, though it will be a separate app with its own user base and features. It will allow users to share text-based posts of up to 500 characters, almost double the limit for ordinary Twitter users.
Users will reportedly not need a separate login to the app. They can sign in with their existing Instagram username and password. Once logged in, all of your followers, profile information like username and bio, and even verification is transferred over from Instagram.
People using other apps can search for, follow and interact with your profile and content, per Haberman’s post. You can attach photos, and videos up to five minutes long. P92 will run on the same guidelines as Instagram’s and accounts or words a user blocked will carry over.
“The micro text updates the app allows might even replace the Twitter screenshots that seem to have overrun the feed recently,” Haberman opined.
By targeting celebrities and influencers, Meta believes that these users will be able to help attract a large audience to the app once it is launched. Meta is also reportedly planning to promote P92 through its other platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram.
More Twitter competitors
Meta’s app is still in development, but it may represent a formidable threat to Twitter, which has been struggling to grow user numbers in recent years. Data suggests only 10% of Twitter’s 396 million monthly active users are responsible for 92% of all tweets.
Since Elon Musk took over as owner and CEO of Twitter in October, the social media site’s most active users are posting less frequently than they used to in the past, per a new survey from Pew Research Center.
The survey shows that Twitter’s top “users’ average number of tweets per month declined by around 25% following the acquisition.” Musk implemented a series of drastic cost-cutting measures since taking over, including slashing the workforce from a reported 7,000 to 2,000.
Last week, the billionaire threatened a purge of all inactive Twitter accounts, which are estimated at 1.5 billion. With the platform in decline, a number of social networks intent on giving users both the personal and financial freedom are starting to emerge as rivals.
The list includes Nostr, Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky, Parler, Mastodon, Substack’s Notes and Donald Trump’s Truth Social. After some initial success, most of the supposed Twitter alternatives have seen a decline in user numbers.