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Facebook owner Meta plans to create Twitter rival

June 13, 2023

Meta has shown staff plans for a text-based social network designed to compete with Twitter, sources have told the BBC.

It could allow users to follow accounts they already follow on Instagram, Meta’s image-sharing app.

And it could potentially allow them to bring over followers from decentralised platforms such as Mastodon.

A Meta spokesperson confirmed to the BBC that the platform was in development.

“We’re exploring a standalone decentralised social network for sharing text updates,” they said.

“We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”

Meta’s chief product officer Chris Cox said coding was under way on the platform. The tech giant aims to release it soon, although no date was given. There is some speculation that it could be as early as the end of June.

Screenshots have appeared online which were shown internally to employees, potentially giving an idea of what the app will look like.

Sources within the company have told the BBC that these leaked screenshots are genuine. If they are, the layout of this new platform will be familiar to anyone who has spent time on Twitter.

The text-based network – which has a working title of P92 – could turn out to be a greater rival to Elon Musk’s Twitter than either BlueSky or Mastodon.

While both have attracted users disillusioned with Twitter, starting afresh on a new social network and rebuilding a community, is difficult.

But the Instagram community is enormous. Meta says it has around two billion users, which dwarfs the 300 million that are believed to use Twitter – although its figures can no longer be verified.

If even 25% of Instagram users can be coaxed into using P92 (it will undoubtedly have a sexier name when it launches), it will instantly become bigger than its older rival.

Meta says it takes “inspiration” from other products, although others put it less kindly – Stories on Facebook was based on a Snapchat feature, and Reels on Instagram is unmistakably similar to TikTok.

Twitter has come under scrutiny in recent months over moderation on the platform, and in May withdrew from the EU’s voluntary disinformation code.

Under Mr Musk, Twitter moderation has reportedly been reduced – which critics say allowed an increase in the spread of disinformation.

But Mr Musk says there is now “less misinformation rather than more” since he took over in October 2022.

(BBC News)

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