Instagram has been secretly testing a text-based app similar to Twitter for months with celebrities and influencers and is preparing to launch it as early as June, Bloomberg reported Friday, as some people look to leave Twitter due to changes made under CEO Elon Musk.
The app will be separate from Instagram—which is owned by Meta—though users will be able to connect their accounts and follow all of the people they follow on Instagram on the new app with just one click, according to a screenshot posted by Lia Haberman, professor of social and influencer marketing at UCLA and author of the newsletter ICYMI.
The app may eventually be compatible with others attempting to appeal to former Twitter users—including Mastodon—according to Haberman’s screenshot, which says users on Mastodon will “soon” be able to follow and interact with posts on Meta’s new platform without needing to create a new account.
Haberman said users will be able to post up to 500 characters of text, along with images and pictures.
Meta has been testing the new app secretly with celebrities and influencers for months, people familiar with the project told Bloomberg.
In March, Money Control first reported that Meta was exploring the creation of a social network for text updates to compete with Twitter. Shortly after that, Meta officials told Platformer they “believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests.” Many users have been looking for an alternative to Twitter since billionaire Elon Musk took over in October 2022 and began quickly making changes to the platform ranging from adding an algorithm-driven “For You” page to charging people to be verified and get access to features like an edit button. Mastodon launched shortly after Musk bought Twitter, offering a similar platform but with “no algorithms or ads to waste your time.” But it doesn’t seem that platform is filling the need. Wired reported that Mastodon’s number of active users had fallen to 1.4 million at the end of January—dropping by more than one million—since people flocked to it in November 2022.
A recent study by Pew Research Center found that while people are still logging on Twitter, the most active Twitter users are posting about 25% less after Musk’s acquisition. The study also found that six in 10 Americans who used Twitter in the past year reported taking a break from the platform, and 25% of respondents said they aren’t likely to be on the platform one year from now.
Instagram Readies Twitter Competitor for Summer Release (Bloomberg)
Here’s How Twitter’s Appearance Has Changed Under Elon Musk (Forbes)