Monday, July 15, 2024

Meta ready to take on Twitter with a decentralised rival app

The beleaguered Twitter social network could be about to get more unwanted competition, this time from one of its old foes.

A pair of new reports claim that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is working on a competitor to Twitter that will use ActivityPub, the same federated networking protocol that is at the heart of Mastodon. Mastodon just so happens to be the social network that became a new home to disgruntled Twitter power users since Elon Musk’s late-2022 buyout of the company.


The new app doesn’t have a name yet, but the codename is P92 and its use of the ActivityPub protocol would allow it to tie into Mastodon and other services that also use the same one.

MoneyControl was the first to report on the new app, saying that the project is still a work in progress but adding that the resulting app will carry the Instagram branding.

In a statement to Platformer, Meta confirmed that it is indeed working on something. The email newsletter added that Instagram’s Adam Mosseri is thought to be acting as the lead on the project.

“We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates,” Meta reportedly told Platformer in an emailed statement “We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”

But concrete details are sparse. The use of ActivityPub is interesting of course, not least because of the Mastodon connection. Because ActivityPub is decentralised, nobody actually owns any single point of data collection which also means that no one entity is responsible for the service itself. That’s very much unlike a Twitter or a Facebook, where companies own the technology that the services run on.

The decentralised approach has its benefits and weaknesses, but the lack of a single company – or in Twitter’s case, a person – that controls everything is something that calls to some people. Especially those who have recently left Twitter following the changes new owner Elon Musk has been making since his $44 billion buyout.


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