Instagram’s Twitter Clone Isn’t a Perfect Solution, But It Has One Advantage

New details have leaked on P92/Barcelona, IG's new text-based app

A photo illustration of various popular apps, including Twitter and Instagram. Instagram may have a Twitter, text-like competitor up and running by late June.
Will Instagram's new, secret app really be a the "Twitter killer"?
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

With everyone trying to come up with a Musk-free Twitter alternative — even a buzzy one called Bluesky from former Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey — it’s no surprise that Facebook’s parent company Meta is exploring a competitive product. The difference? By going through Instagram, this is one social competitor that might actually work, for better or worse.

Per Lia Haberman’s ICYMI newsletter, Instagram’s new Twitter-like text app may be here as early as the end of June. Called P92, Project 92 or Barcelona (all temporary for now), this “Instagram for your thoughts” won’t quite be the Twitter clone that other social media start-ups have been pitching.

Haberman spoke with a creator who met with Meta, and learned a few potential details about the new app. To start, it’ll be built on “the back of Instagram” — and it’ll work with your current sign-in and sync up with your followers — but compatible with other social media services like Mastodon. Even though there will be a centralized hub for content, the key for P92 is decentralization: Users on other apps “will be able to search for, follow and interact with your profile and content.”

Text updates will be up to 500 characters and users can include links, pics or videos up to five minutes long. As per other Twitter-like services, account holders can engage with likes, replies and reposts, and also control replies and mentions (and block or report spam). IG content guidelines will also be enforced.

Report Reveals More and More People Are Exploring a Twitter Exit
Mastodon is currently the fastest-growing alternative

“The micro text updates the app allows might even replace the Twitter screenshots that seem to have overrun the Feed recently,” Haberman writes (a trend I’ve certainly noticed).

The final product is a bit vague at the moment; also, the secret testing being done right now is with “famous people and influencers,” so this isn’t quite an ideal decentralized program. That said, the integration with Instagram immediately gives P92 a leg up on, well, everyone; the service is estimated to have at least 1.6 billion users around the world as of April 2023.

That said…Twitter has many, many issues (today’s fun: your deleted tweets aren’t being deleted) but let’s not forget all the issues with Meta, particularly when it comes to user data and privacy. While I personally like Instagram and find it preferable and less anxiety-inducing than other social media platforms (pro tip: follow a lot of animal accounts), Meta is a giant corporation that will eventually find a way to monetize this new text-based service — and, if keeping with past history, frustrate its users just as much as any large-scale social media platform.

Conversely, after reading the troll replies to Haberman’s article on Twitter, I’m in support of any new service that offers a modicum of moderation and user control.

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