Monday, May 29, 2023
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Instagram To Release Text-Based App That Will Rival Twitter

Instagram is planning to release a text-based app that will compete with Twitter.

The company is currently testing the project idea with celebrities and influencers, according to people familiar with the matter. Instagram has been in discussions with select creators for months, although none of them has had access to the full version of the app, according to one of the people.

The app, which will be separate from Instagram but will allow people to connect accounts, may debut as soon as June, according to Lia Haberman, who teaches social and influencer marketing at UCLA and published a screenshot of an early app description. It may eventually be compatible with other Twitter competitor apps, including Mastodon, according to Haberman’s screenshot.

The slide doesn’t give the app a separate name — instead, it just calls it “Instagram’s new text-based app for conversations” — but the app is apparently codenamed P92 or, alternately, Barcelona, according to Haberman. Users will be able to sign in with their Instagram username and password, and your followers, handle, bio, and verification will transfer over from the main app.

In the app, you’ll see a feed, and you can make text posts up to 500 characters long with attached links, photos, and videos.

The app looks pretty much like if you mixed Instagram and Twitter together, based on two screenshots included in the leaked marketing slide. And Meta will apparently have some good moderation controls from the start, “equipping you with settings to control who can reply to you and mention your account,” the slide says. Any accounts you’ve blocked on Instagram will apparently carry over.

Perhaps most significantly, though, the new Instagram text app will have an element of decentralization as well. “Soon, our app will be compatible with certain other apps like Mastodon,” Instagram’s slide says. “Users on these other apps will be able to search for, follow and interact with your profile and content if you’re public, or if you’re private and approve them as followers.” (Presumably that compatibility will come through ActivityPub, which Meta has been exploring alongside other tech companies.)

If the app is released widely, it could make Instagram an even more popular destination than it already is. With the continued worsening of Twitter, many people are looking for their next place to share tweet-like updates. While platforms like Mastodon and Bluesky have gained some traction, a text-based Instagram app would offer a way for people who have already built followings on the platform to just keep posting there without having to scrounge for followers in yet another place.

Meta declined to comment. In March, it provided the following statement about its efforts to Platformer: “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.”



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