Meta Plans to Launch a Text-Based Social Platform to Rival Twitter (Report)

The Facebook and Instagram parent is looking to expand

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a panel talk at the 2020 Munich Security Conference
Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg is eyeing a way to take on Elon Musk.

Meta Platforms, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, is exploring plans to launch a new social media app to rival Twitter, Reuters reported Friday.

“We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates,” a Meta spokesperson told the news outlet. “We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.”

Meta’s app will be based on a similar framework to the one that Mastodon operates on, the report said. Mastodon, founded in 2016, is an open-source project that many Twitter users fled to after Musk bought Twitter in October 2022. Mastodon usage surged more than 2,608% in just days, but founder Eugen Rochko declined Silicon Valley funding that would have helped it expand further, opting to keep it a nonprofit.

Musk’s erratic leadership of Twitter, including firing about 75% of the staff, restoring previously banned accounts like former President Donald Trump’s and bungling the “blue check” rollout of paid account verification led to an exodus of users and advertisers in the first months of his tenure.

While advertising has stabilized, the service lately has seen more technological glitches, including major outages. The billionaire, who is also CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has said he will step down as soon as he finds a replacement.

Multiple other Twitter rivals also already exist, from Post to Trump’s Truth Social to the right-leaning Parler and Gab. None have been able to gain traction like Twitter, which even with its losses still has about 350 million monthly active users.

Meanwhile, Meta reported 4% growth in active daily users for the last three months of 2022, but Facebook is widely seen as having lost younger audiences, while Instagram is in stiff competition with teen favorite TikTok. Meta is pouring money into creating the virtual “metaverse,” where adoption is slower than the company hoped and Wall Street doesn’t expect it to start producing profit until 2030.

The company in November said it would lay off 11,000 workers, or 13% of its staff, by the end of this month.

It’s not immediately clear when Meta’s new app will be released, Reuters said.

“The history of Meta is that they are much better acquirers than they are innovators or developers … As far as copying Twitter, this is just a defensive move,” Thomas Hayes, chairman and managing member of New York-based Great Hill Capital, told Reuters. “They’re just trying everything … At least with a mini blogging site like Twitter, there’s some expectation that it could start to make money out of much quicker timeline than the metaverse investment.”

Meta shares rose $2.72, or 1.5%, in midday trading to $184.41. The stock is up about 48% since the start of the year.