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10 Mar, 2023 21:03

Meta confirms decentralized Twitter competitor in the works

Facebook’s parent company has gone back to the drawing board after its Metaverse failed to attract public interest
Meta confirms decentralized Twitter competitor in the works

Facebook parent company Meta is building a decentralized, text-based social networking platform, the company confirmed on Thursday in an email to tech outlet Platformer. Code-named P92, the app suggests a radical diversion from the company’s namesake Metaverse project.   

“We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates,” a Meta spokesperson told Platformer, describing the project as “a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”

P92 will run on the ActivityPub protocol used by Mastodon, the Twitter competitor praised by tech influencers and celebrities displeased by the changes made to that platform by new CEO Elon Musk. In addition to allowing users to broadcast posts to people on other servers, as Mastodon does, P92 may also allow users to follow and view content on other servers, an insider source told finance blog Moneycontrol.

Other likely features include links with content previews, usernames and bios, verification badges, shareable images and videos, followers and likes – all familiar to users of Twitter and its various clones, as well as Mastodon. Commenting and messaging might not be available in the first version of the product but would be added eventually, the source said.  

Users will log in with their Instagram credentials and P92 will use all of Instagram’s data “for the purposes of analytics, product improvement, and ranking,” including that of users who haven’t signed up to the new network, sources told Moneycontrol.  

Decentralized platforms are touted by some – including Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, whose own decentralized competitor Bluesky launched in beta last week – for their supposed resistance to censorship, as groups operating on different servers could theoretically adopt different moderation policies. While the new network will make use of Instagram’s privacy policy, it is not known whether it will use that platform’s restrictive content policies as well.  

The text-based P92 is a significant departure from Meta’s namesake Metaverse project. Some of the Metaverse’s virtual “worlds,” unveiled in 2021, reportedly have been logging daily active users only in the double digits. Facebook and Instagram have been hemorrhaging younger users to platforms such as TikTok for years.