Amid the uncertainty surrounding Twitter’s future following Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform back in October 2022, Meta appears to be leveraging this into an opportunity to launch a competing social network.
First reported by Moneycontrol and later confirmed by Meta, the parent firm of Facebook and Instagram is considering the development of a stand alone text-based content app codenamed ‘P92’ which will be interoperable with the free and open-source software for running self-hosted social networking services, Mastodon.
"We’re exploring a standalone decentralised social network for sharing text updates,” a Meta spokesperson said.
“We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”
If the app were indeed decentralised, just like Mastodon, it would not be able to run at the whim of a single entity, nor could it be bought or sold. Supposedly, it will also allow users to login using their existing Instagram credentials, allowing for ease of crossover from Meta’s Instagram users.
It is currently unclear how far along the app is in the development process so a timeline for the potential launch is unknown, but experts believe the rumoured app has the potential to reshape social media and spell trouble for Musk and the ‘Twittersphere’.
“An opportunistic move”
Thomas Walters, Europe CEO and Co-founder of influencer marketing agency, Billion Dollar Boy, said: “Meta’s intention to create its own version of Twitter is an opportunistic move but ultimately, it could prove to be a very clever one with Twitter continuing to struggle to adapt to life under Musk’s ownership.
“Problems continue to plague Twitter, most concerningly in terms of brand investment into the platform as advertisers still appear uneasy about the lack of content moderation on the platform and the implications that has for brand safety.”
Walters further pointed out that a weakened Twitter presents potential for a rival platform to steal its market share. The potential for this was seen in November , when Twitter, under its new leadership, began offloading large amounts of its workforce and Mastodon experienced more than 500,000 sign-ups to the service in response.
He continued: “Although interest in Mastodon has proven to be a false dawn, it’s clear that there is room for a Twitter alternative platform to be made. Meta is a more trusted name, with a better reputation for building more brand safe platforms and has the resources and finances it can invest into creating a truly competitive version.
“Add to that potential interoperability between other Meta platforms, and P92 could be a serious challenger for Twitter.”
Slightly more concerned about the potential of P92, Adam Libonatti-Roche, Digital Strategy Lead at PR firm Bluestripe, said the move from Meta could spell trouble for agencies and brands, leave social media teams too stretched and contribute to a more fragmented yet increasingly monopolised social media landscape, which he believes is “not a good situation”.
He said: "P92 is a play to replace one social media service with issues – not enough to count on 280 characters or even the proposed 5,000 – with another, from a company that has been criticised numerous times for its approach to data, privacy, and political stances.
“It doesn't feel appropriate to say that Meta is filling the gap or creating a Twitter rival for purely competitive or altruistic reasons. It also means that agencies and brands will find themselves having to extend the remit of already stretched social media teams to cover P92.
“Is that good for the industry? Absolutely not.”