Meta steps out walled garden for summer with ‘decentralised’ Twitter copycat

‘Game on’ says Twitter after leaked reports that Instagram’s new text-based social network will be released as soon as June – outside of Meta’s exclusive family of apps for the first time.

The Meta-owned platform, Instagram, adds fire to its rivalry with Twitter with its text-based app reportedly launching as early as June.

Meta confirmed rumours of trials for an app code-named ‘P92’ or ‘Barcelona’ in March this year, with trials having been underway with select celebrities and creators.

Twitter's new CEO Linda Yaccarino reacted to the reports saying that it is 'game on' as Instagram steps into the competitive space.

There are already several Twitter competitors out there including Bluesky and Mastodon, but a competitor from a giant like Meta is significant for advertisers, particularly with connections to Meta’s family of apps and its huge audience of over two billion.

Celebrities and influencers are already testing the new app, with some leaking the trails on Twitter, ironically.

— Lia Haberman (@liahaberman) May 19, 2023

“Historically, we know Meta likes to sample and recreate features from other apps and third-party tools based on what they anticipate being popular with their users,” Haberman said. “Based on Meta’s track record borrowing from other platforms, it’s much more likely they’ll get there first by consolidating all these experiences they’re building.”

All this comes as no surprise since most social platforms seem to borrow most features from each other, with TikTok most notably kickstarting a focus on short form video in Instagram Reels and Youtube Shorts.

However, the surprising move from Meta comes as the app reportedly plans to run as part of the decentralised network, Mastodon, whilst still partially integrated with Instagram and keeping the same community guidelines. Meta’s apps have previously been exclusive.

Zarnaz Arlia, Chief Marketing Officer at Emplifi explained further: “Confirmation of Meta’s announcement that it’s building a text-based app comes as no surprise. It’s clear there is a demand from users for simple platforms that cater to text-based post updates. With the transition of Twitter’s leadership, we saw an array of lesser-known apps such as Mastodon come to light in hopes of taking the crown. While there were temporary spikes in follower growth, nothing stuck.

“In contrast, Meta has billions of active users to market the new app to, making it easier for them to drive adoption vs another platform to acquire new users. What is most striking about Meta’s announcement, though scarce in information, is that the plan is for the text-based platform to be decentralised.

“This is highly irregular as Meta’s family of apps is centralised and traditionally exclusive when it comes to working with other platforms. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as decentralising the app will give users far more flexibility, especially when it comes to content moderation, but it will also mean Meta is stepping outside of its powerful walled-garden.”