Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc. is reportedly planning to launch a new social media app to rival the growing threat from Elon Musk’s Twitter.
Since Musk’s takeover of Twitter in late October, the platform has been booming with new and returning users who are drawn to the new boss’s free speech agenda.
Musk has long stated that he wants to eradicate censorship and make Twitter the world’s “digital town square” where all views are welcome.
Facebook, on the other hand, has continued to ramp up censorship efforts in recent years and has seen a mass exodus of users.
Amid Musk’s growing success with Twitter, Meta now wants to build a new app to rival it.
“We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates,” a Meta spokesperson told Reuters in an emailed statement.
“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 that powers Mastodon, a Twitter-like service that was launched in 2016.
A Twitter-like app would allow Meta to take advantage of the current buzz around the Elon Musk-led company.
However, Meta hopes to outperform Twitter by integrating its own massive advertising network into the platform.
Twitter has been struggling to hold on to its advertising base since Musk’s takeover of the platform late last year.
Companies have pulled back spending following Twitter’s move to restore suspended accounts and gut the platform’s censorship department.
Meta’s plans come at a time when its biggest platform, Facebook, is struggling to attract the attention of a younger audience.
Meanwhile, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s huge investments in the Metaverse, a virtual world where users interact and work, show little signs of paying off, at least in the near term.
Its video-sharing app, Instagram, is also facing stiff competition as content makers or hit influencers abandon the platform for TikTok.
It was not immediately clear when Meta would roll out the new app.
“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,” said Thomas Hayes, chairman and managing member of New York-based Great Hill Capital.
“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 a much quicker timeline than the metaverse investment.”
Meta’s investments in the metaverse will not drive revenue growth until 2030, analysts have said.
Meta shares were marginally higher at $181.7 in early trading Friday.
They have gained about 51% so far this year after severely plummeting last year.