Meta’s new Twitter-like text-based social app is, based Lia Haberman’s report, about a month away from landing on your phone. And while details are scarce, select content creators are being briefed about what to expect and we’re starting to get a sense of what’s to come. Here’s what we know.
“Threads,” Formerly Codenamed “Barcelona” is a New, Separate App
Meta’s project, apparently named Threads but internally codenamed Barcelona, was first 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.”
Multiple sources who have been presented with early-access opportunities have shared the app is being described as “Instagram for your thoughts.”
Meta’s New App is Text-Based with Twitter-like Limits
In-step with the anti-social social media movement, where more activity happens in message threads and private groups oriented around interests, Meta’s Barcelona is rumored to be designed “more group chat than social network.”
This is a trend Meta has been circling for some time, with Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri sharing:
“Friends post a lot more to stories and send a lot more DMs than they post to Feed.”
It appears Barcelona is the most Twitter-y Twitter clone yet: like Twitter, Barcelona restricts the length of text posts to 500 characters but does allow links, photos, and videos up to five minutes in length. According to leaked screenshots, users will be able to like, reply, and re-post.
Barcelona Will be Linked to your Instagram
Select content creators have been told they will sign on to the app using their Instagram credentials, including their username, and will be able to sync with the existing Instagram audience.
This is Meta’s First Move into Decentralized Social
The new app is decentralized, which it claims will make your profile compatible with other decentralized social networks.
According to Meta: “Users on apps [like Mastodon] will be able to search for, follow and interact with your profile and your content if you’re public, or if you’re private and approve them as followers. This allows you to reach new audiences with no added work. In addition, creators may be eligible to be recommended to people who don’t yet follow them.”
That is how it’s supposed to work but it’s to be seen how Meta will square its standard operating procedure with such a shift. It’s also to be seen if end-users actually care about the difference between centralized and decentralized networks.
This is an Important Test of Meta’s Ability to Innovate
Meta has long-struggled to launch products beyond its core Facebook product, seemingly unable to build a second product. Meta’s Poke (a full-on Snapchat rip-off that lasted just over a year) and its failed cryptocurrency project Libra come to mind.
Its successes beyond Facebook have come almost exclusively through the acquisition of already-baked products, like WhatsApp and Instagram, or in ripping off features of its competitors (like swiping Stories from Snapchat).
It appears Meta is marching down the path where it has so often failed before, at a time when their stock price is fragile and being propped up by little more than layoffs and Zuck’s claims that 2023 is a year of efficiency.
“It’s a bold move, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off.”