Meta is building a decentralized Twitter competitor

It might be interoperable with Mastodon and other ActivityPub platforms.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Meta might offer a Twitter alternative like Mastodon in the future, according MoneyControl and Platformer. The social networking giant is reportedly in the early stages of developing an app codenamed P92 that would let users post text-based updates, and it's going to support Mastodon's social networking protocol called ActivityPub. Meta confirmed that a decentralized social network is in the works at the company and told the publications:

"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."

P92 will carry Instagram's branding and will let users register and log in using their Instagram credentials, according to the sources. It will populate users' profile with their Instagram account details if they use their login on the photo-sharing app. But based on the product brief MoneyControl saw, "data sharing from Instagram to P92 will be minimal, if not none" after the initial sign up.

Since the app is decentralized, that means users can set up their own servers and set their own rules for content moderation. A source told MoneyControl that the app will allow users to broadcast their posts to those on other servers, but it remains to be seen whether they will be able to follow each other, as well. If the app supports ActivityPub, though, people will likely expect it to be somewhat interoperable with Mastodon and other decentralized apps that use the protocol.

Meta has a list of features it definitely wants the app to have, including tappable links for posts with previews, shareable images and videos, as well as verification badges. The sources didn't say whether the company will be charging a fee for its badges as well, but it's worth noting that Meta launched a $12-a-month paid verification service for Facebook and Instagram back in February. Users will have the ability to leave comments and send private messages, but they might not be available in the first version of the app. And at this point, Meta is unsure whether to give people the ability to reshare posts like they can on Twitter.

MoneyControl says it's not quite quite clear whether the company has already started building the app, or if it's still in the planning period of development. By the time it launches, it's bound to have several more competitors to contend with, since Twitter rivals have been popping up to offer users an alternative after Elon Musk took over last year.