Early last month, reports began to circulate that Meta was eyeing the rising angst among Twitter users, with a view, potentially, to creating its own Twitter replacement, which could then enable it to scoop up any Twitter refugees looking for a new home.
As Meta confirmed to Platformer in early March:
“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.”
Which, of course, sounds very Twitter-esque, and the speculation has been that the project, initially codenamed ‘P92’, would be designed to go after Twitter cast-offs, who are seeking an alternative amid the various changes at the app under new owner Elon Musk.
Now, that project seems to be moving ahead, with Meta’s new ‘Barcelona’ text-based social app slowly taking shape.
As you can see in this image, shared by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, the separate app is now being pitched as ‘Instagram for your thoughts’, at least in this internal prototype. That release date is also just a placeholder at this stage - we don’t know when it might be launched - but the concept appears to be a text-based feed of posts, which aims to tap into the rising popularity of private messaging, in a more expanded, accessible format.
In some ways, it sounds similar to Instagram’s recently added ‘Channels’ feature, which enables public figures to broadcast messages to their followers.
With more discussion shifting to messaging chats, as opposed to people posting in public feeds, Channels is designed to lean into this, providing a more private, intimate discussion interface for creators and their fans.
Barcelona sounds similar, though in a dedicated app, with users able to follow others and stay on top of their text updates.
Here’s what we know about the Barcelona project thus far:
- Barcelona will be a separate app, which will use your Instagram credentials to log in
- As you can see in the above screenshots, Barcelona will also use your Instagram ID as your username in the new app
- The maximum length for Barcelona posts will be 500 characters
- Barcelona will be decentralized, though it’s not entirely clear what that means in a Meta context as yet
And it does indeed appear to be moving along, which is especially interesting when you also consider the amount of job cuts and internal rationalization underway at Meta more broadly.
That suggests that Meta sees significant potential here. And as Musk continues to spark angst at Twitter, there’s definitely a desire among many users for an alternative, as difficult as it will be to usurp the short-form content leader.
The challenge here is that most businesses are already aligned with Twitter, and are accustomed to sharing updates there. To establish a true alternative, you need a lot of current Twitter users to migrate to a new app, and only then would it be truly valuable, with the same key Twitter users posting in the new space.
That’ll take time to establish, but maybe, by using its scale, Meta is in a better position than others to build the next thing, that’ll see mass adoption and scale.
It’s still a way off, and we only have a few details as yet, but it is interesting to note the progress.
We’ve asked Meta for more info on the project, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.