Tech giant Meta, which already has a portfolio that includes some of the world's most popular social media platforms, is reportedly working on a new, decentralized social app with the codename “P92”.
Although the plans are vague at the moment – the project seems to be much closer to the ideation phase than completion – reports suggest that users would be expected to log into the new platform with their Instagram account credentials.
With decentralized social media platforms like Mastodon already up and running, Facebook's userbase declining for the first time in its history last year and industry stalwarts like Twitter floundering under chaotic management, it feels like there’s never been a better time to make a move like this.
Meta’s New Platform: What We Know
The news that Meta has started a new project – codename P92 – was first reported by the financial news site MoneyControl this week.
“We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates. We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests” a spokesperson told the publication.
The project is being headed up by Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, and will require your existing login credentials for the image-sharing platform when you sign-up.
A source close to the project also told MoneyControl that “the plan as of now is that the MVP (minimum viable product) will definitely allow our users to broadcast posts to people on other servers”, but admitted the company is yet to decide whether to allow users “to follow and view the content of people on other servers.”
ActivityPub: the Future of Social Media?
Meta’s new app is going to make use of ActivityPub, a decentralized social networking protocol that powers Mastodon.
The once-small-scale platform was flooded with new sign-ups after Elon Musk’s chaotic acquisition of Twitter, and now has around 1.8 million active users.
Other websites exploring how they can use the ActivityPub Protocol include Flicker, Tumblr, and Flipboard.
It's not the only protocol being used for the purpose of decentralization, however. The Matrix protocol, for instance, is utilized by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s new app BlueSky and open source communications platform Rocket.chat.
Meta: Twitter’s Newest Competitor?
With the tumult at Twitter unlikely to die down any time soon, Meta may see this as an opportunity to capitalize on the desire for a new social media platform with similar functionality.
It's likely too risky to try and build this into existing Meta platforms like Instagram and Facebook in its entirety, so a brand-new, text-based content app seems like a logical step.
With Twitter alternatives like Mastodon still in their infancy and Facebook experiencing a user decline for the first time in the company's almost 20-year history, the fact this “secret” project has suddenly become public at this time could be pre-meditated.
Regardless of how it got to press, we may look back at this news as one of the first real indications of a quantifiable paradigm shift away from traditional social media apps and towards decentralized social media platforms.