Facebook parent company, Meta Platforms Inc said it is exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates, similar to a Twitter alternative or a Mastodon competitor. The platform, code-named P92, will be overseen by Instagram head Adam Mosser.
The new app, according to a report by Moneycontrol, will be an offshoot of Instagram. It will allow users to register or login through their Instagram credentials.
P92 is therefore expected to leverage existing Instagram data like names, profile pictures, and followers, both for users who sign up for the decentralized platform and those who don’t.
The report further says the new content app would support ActivityPub, the decentralized social networking protocol that powers Mastodon, a Twitter-rival.
“We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates. We believe there’s an opportunity for separated space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests,” Meta told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Citing an unnamed source, the Moneycontrol report further says being a decentralized platform means users of the app will be able to join or create separate servers, although it will include a feature that allows people to “broadcast posts to people on other servers.”
Meta is itching for rivalry
Coingape says Meta seems to be building a microblogging platform to give Twitter some direct competition.
“It will be interesting to see how Elon Musk responds to this news,” says Coingape.
The market has responded with mixed reactions to the news. Responding to a Tweet by WuBlockchain about Meta’s announcement, one user – Sandile said: “Who the h%&l ditch Twitter for a Meta owned Twitter alternative?”
At launch, P92’s feature is expected to be similar to Twitter, except for commenting on posts and messages, which will reportedly be added later.
According to Reuters, while Twitter and Facebook are controlled by one authority, a company, decentralized platforms such as Mastodon are installed on thousands of computer servers, largely run by volunteer administrators who join their systems together in federation.
Who will be the “last man” standing?
Meta’s planned new offering comes at a time Twitter has been dealing with several technical issues that have resulted in a number of glitches and outages.
Since Elon’s takeover, the social media platform has been entangled in controversies over content moderation as well as unpopular policy shifts.
In recent weeks, the platform is reported to have experienced at least two blackouts and one of them prevented users from accessing their accounts. These challenges have been pinned on Musk’s decision to lay off about three quarters of staff including engineers, prompting users to switch to alternatives like Mastodon.
Mastodon jumped to about 2.5 million users at its peak, which is just 1% of Twitter’s total user base.
On the other hand, at 2 billion, Instagram is eight times the size of Twitter according to Bloomberg.
Now, combining Meta’s platforms, that is Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp brings its global social media apps user base to 3.74 billion.
However, there is also skepticism around Meta’s new product.
“It’s important to remember that Meta has tried making new apps and experiences that haven’t always taken off,” writes Ivan Mehta for TechCrunch.
“So it won’t be surprising if the new decentralized experience shuts down in a couple of years after the launch.”
The firm has abandoned several experiments like the anonymous teen app tbh, video speed dating services Sparked, couples’ app Tuned, Nextdoor clone Neighborhoods, Cameo-like app Super, student-focused social network Campus, and TikTok clone Lasso among others.