Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about the Facebook News feature at the Paley Center For Media in New York on Oct. 25, 2019.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images
For months, Meta has been working on a Twitter-like, text-based social media network that would compete with Twitter and the bevy of clone apps that have gained prominence since Elon Musk took Twitter private in 2022. News of the plans have inspired a public spat between Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, culminating in a joking challenge to engage in a physical “cage match” fight in Las Vegas.
Meta previously confirmed to CNBC that it was “exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates,” but didn’t offer further details on the nature or name of the app.
Meta enjoys a significant advantage over upstart competitors like BlueSky or Mastodon, given how many users are already integrated into Facebook and Instagram. It also enjoys longstanding relationships with brands and advertisers which could provide revenue at launch.
But given deep cuts to trust and safety teams at Meta and throughout the social media industry, content moderation may prove to be a challenge. Many advertisers fled Twitter after controversial content surged in the wake of Musk’s acquisition. At Meta, which has faced scrutiny over its amplification of misinformation, similar concerns may undercut its ability to entice advertisers en masse to a new offering.
Here’s what’s been reported so far.
The app is codenamed Project 92 or P92, Platformer reported in March, and Meta is considering calling it Threads, according to a June report from the Verge. It will reportedly be deeply integrated into Instagram, populating information from the existing social media platform. A top Meta executive reportedly said that high-profile users, including celebrities an content creators, were looking for a “sanely run” platform.
A screenshot shows an SSO, or single-sign on feature, with the words “Log in with Instagram” on the landing screen.
Meta clearly believes it can lever its existing relationships with institutions, celebrities, and news organizations to attract users and content generators, which in turn would feed advertising revenue and revitalize an aging user base.
Renders obtained by the Verge show a user interface that is uncannily similar to Twitter’s feed, with iconography and symbols that mirror Instagram’s current user interface. The familiar UI will likely make it easier for users to grapple with a reported integration with ActivityPub, a social media protocol designed to promote “decentralized” social networks, allowing different platforms to effectively connect with each other.
The integration means that systems that also run on ActivityPub, like Twitter-competitor Mastodon, would have interconnectivity with Project 92. A render shared by the Verge prominently showcases that integration.
Meta chief product officer Chris Cox reportedly said the company was engaging with public figures, including the Dalai Lama and Oprah Winfrey, about joining the platform at launch. The Dalai Lama has over two million followers on Instagram; Winfrey has over 23 million. High-profile power users would give Meta a monetizable and captive audience from the outset, and could help propel the app ahead of Twitter.
The company began building the platform in January, a few months after Musk took over Twitter, and Meta plans for the app to be available this summer, according to reports in Bloomberg and elsewhere.