As we reported a few days ago, Meta is preparing to release a Twitter rival inside the Instagram app. Codenamed Project 92 and possibly called Threads, it'll use your existing Instagram profile and connections, and it'll deliver a Twitter-style text feed that your connections can subscribe to.
More details have now leaked via The Verge, which has got its electronic hands on an image showing the app in action. As expected, it looks a lot like Instagram and a lot like Twitter.
But one of the most interesting features isn't one you'll see on screen. And that could turn out to be the most important one.
What's so exciting about the Instagram Twitter rival?
The app will integrate with ActivityPub, which is a decentralised social networking protocol. That means – provided Meta decides to enable it – that you'll be able to take your accounts and followers to other social media apps that support the protocol, such as Mastodon (but not Bluesky, at least at the moment).
That's a really big deal. The only reason I haven't deactivated Twitter is because I'm connected to 3,000 people there and can't take them with me to, say, Bluesky or Mastodon: like most social networks, Twitter wants you to stay on Twitter and does not want it to be easy to take your friends elsewhere. With ActivityPub, though, you could be able to do just that.
It's not a feature most people will care about, I know. But I know a lot of people who've built businesses or important networks on Twitter, and they tell me that they feel like hostages: if they quit Twitter now, that means losing all the connections they've made over the years. That's something they're not going to want to repeat on another social network, so if a Twitter-style app from Instagram comes with the promise that they can move to another app without losing everything, I think they – and I – will find that very reassuring.
Speaking to Meta staff, chief product officer Chris Cox said that the app's goal was "safety, ease of use, reliability" and ensuring creators have a "stable place to build and grow their audiences". I think that message is going to be welcomed by a lot of people.