Meta has revealed it is working on a new social network solely designed for sharing text updates.
The app would appear to be a direct competitor to Twitter, with a company spokesperson confirming it will be a “decentralised” platform similar to other alternatives that grew in popularity after Elon Musk‘s takeover.
“We’re exploring a standalone decentralised social network for sharing text updates,” a Meta statement said.
“We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”
The plan was originally reported by Money Control, citing Meta sources, with more details revealed by Platformer.
While the new app is said to be Instagram-branded (Meta owns that platform, plus Facebook and WhatsApp), allowing users to log in with existing accounts, it will operate differently.
It will reportedly support a decentralised social networking protocol called ActivityPub, which is the same one that powers some existing Twitter rivals like Mastodon.
What does decentralised mean?
Platforms that talk about being “decentralised” are hearkening back to an earlier era of the internet, where big tech companies had less of a monopoly over the websites that people used.
Facebook and Twitter, for example, are controlled by a single company – they have total oversight when it comes to content that is allowed on the platform.
But Mastodon, and other Twitter alternatives that rose in prominence last year, are instead made up of many independent communities or servers that live under one umbrella.
These might be run by different individuals or companies, with their own rules and policies.
Former Twitter boss Jack Dorsey, who co-founded the company in 2006, is working on his own such project called Blue Sky, which has been in testing since last year.
Is there demand for a ‘new Twitter’?
Sky News analysis revealed surges in interest in Twitter-like platforms late last year, as users concerned with Musk’s approach looked into jumping ship.
But the tumultuous takeover hasn’t upended people’s habits to the extent experts predicted. The rapid rise in Mastodon users, for example, has stalled.
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One of the key issues facing upstart Twitter-like firms is that they often don’t boast the accessible feature sets and slick visual design that helped make Facebook and Instagram usable by everyone, from your grandma to your kids.
Meta’s new platform will likely be built with a mainstream audience in mind, though confidence in the company has taken something of a battering in recent years due to user privacy scandals and criticism of Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse strategy.
Other recent app experiments by the company have not always gone smoothly, with the likes of its video speed-dating service called Sparked and couples-focused social platform Tuned among those to have shut in recent years.