If there’s a social media phenomenon that’s gaining some kind of popularity, Meta will try and jump on board. We’ve seen the company copy various types of formats from Stories to short videos after seeing the success of other platforms. Today, the company led by Mark Zuckerberg is working on a decentralized text-based app.
Meta confirmed this development in a statement but did not provide details about when it plans 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 the works — as first reported by MoneyControl. According to documents seen by the publication, the app will let users log-in with their Instagram credentials. This can upset 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 made public, the report added.
Meta’s move is seen as its attempt to build a Twitter oa alternative Mastodon competitor. The latter gained popularity 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 instances like Mastodon, according to MoneyControl.
Many other tools have implemented (or are planning to implement) ActivityPub support including Tumblr, Flipboardand Flickr.
But decentralization is not limited to this protocol. Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky launched its iOS app in beta last week. And like messaging apps Rocket.chat accepts the Matrix protocol.
However, former Twitter engineer Blaine Cook said TechCrunch last year that having competing protocols was a good thing.
“I think protocol diversity is important, as well as the diversity of applications built on top of those protocols. That said, I strongly believe that interoperability between ActivityPub and Bluesky will not be difficult. The only thing preventing, for example, interoperability between Twitter and Facebook’s timeline is the protectionist policies of those companies,” he said.
It’s important to note that Meta has tried to create new apps and experiences that aren’t always first. In the last few years, it has killed experiments like the unknown teen app tbh, Cameo-like app Super, Nextdoor clone Neighborhoods, couples app Focused, Student-oriented social network campus, video speed dating service Sparkedand TikTok clone Lasso just to name a few. So it won’t be surprising if the new decentralized experience shuts down within a few years of launch.