Is no platform safe from Meta’s army of clone technicians? Not content with copying TikTok’s recipe for success, Meta has told a ‘select group of creators’ that it will be launching a Twitter clone this year.
The app will be stand-alone but will feature some integration with Instagram, TechCrunch revealed. It doesn’t have a name yet, although the project has been codenamed ‘Barcelona’ or ‘Project 92.’
“Users will keep their Instagram verification and handle, and all of their followers will receive a notification to follow them on the to-be-named platform. Meta’s text-based platform will be decentralized and interoperable with Mastodon, which is built on the ActivityPub protocol.”
Lots of Twitter similarities
The app will work like a stripped-back version of Twitter, with a basic, text-based feed. It will be designed so that anyone can see your chats and join in on them – much like Twitter. There will be some integration with Instagram that makes it easier to sign in, and users can post 500-character text updates as well as videos up to five minutes long.
Users will also be able to add links and photos.
Much like Twitter, users will be able to like, reply and re-post (this project’s version of re-tweet).
A great time to take on Twitter
Meta told Money Control that it’s launching a Twitter clone because it thinks there’s an opportunity in the market.
“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.”
The Verge also reported that Meta’s chief product officer Chris Cox thinks the clone can fill the void vacated by a ‘stable’ Twitter.
“We’ve been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run, that they believe that they can trust and rely upon for distribution.”
While this is a standalone app, it will be based on Instagram. For example, users will sign in using their Instagram credentials and can sync up their Insta followers and it will also use the same community guidelines as Instagram.
It will integrate with decentralised social media protocol ActivityPub, which will mean your profile will be compatible with other decentralised systems.
While other Twitter competitors such as Bluesky and Mastodon have had a head start on Meta, its access to billions of users across WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram means that it could have numbers on its side.
Meta wants to get high-profile figures on early, which could present businesses with an opportunity to get in on the ground floor before competitors do. Saying that, ads won’t be in the initial version of the product – but you can bet your bottom dollar that Meta will look to monetise it at some point.
Saying that plenty of Meta projects fail. Just because there are numbers behind it, doesn’t mean it’ll be an instant hit.
Twitter’s ad nightmare
The news breaks at a time when Twitter’s ad sales are down 59% year-on-year. Ad sales make up 90% of Twitter’s revenue, so that’s a big hit to carry.
Twitter has 253 million daily active users, and activity on Twitter has remained strong – despite some of owner Elon Musk’s changes.
Despite strong numbers, Twitter has business issues. It’s losing ad revenue, but it’s not recouping that via subscriptions to Twitter Blue. Musk had hoped that 50% of revenue would come from blue ticks, but so far less than 0.3% of users pay for their verification ($16.8m per quarter, vs $1.18bn revenue per quarter).
A lot of advertisers aren’t happy with Musk. In public, he courts controversy by making statements on topics such as the war in Ukraine, COVID, immigration and more. In business, he makes decisions that lead to his chief of brand safety and head of trust and safety leaving the company.
In short, ad partners are losing trust in Twitter. Fast.