Meta is going to be rolling out its "answer to Twitter" sometime soon. The internet is chattering about it. And Elon Musk has challenged Mark Zuckerberg to a "cage match" over it.
It's probably called Threads, but that can't be confirmed and Meta isn't saying yet. We only know that it's based on Instagram's code, a team has been working on the project since earlier this year, and The Verge got to sit in on a companywide presentation two weeks ago about what the company is internally calling Project 92.
The new app will integrate with the open-source social media protocol ActivityPub, and the link to Instagram means that users from any app that uses ActivityPub — like Mastodon — as well as Instagram users, should be able to easily import all their followers and follows from those apps.
Throwing some direct shade at Elon Musk and the debacle of his Twitter takeover last year, Meta Chief Product Officer Chris Cox told company employees, per The Verge, "We’ve been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run, that they believe that they can trust and rely upon for distribution."
Musk, naturally, responded to that shade in a tweet on Tuesday, saying, "I’m sure Earth can’t wait to be exclusively under Zuck’s thumb with no other options." And, he added, "At least it will be 'sane.' Was worried there for a moment [grinning face with sweat emoji]."
I’m sure Earth can’t wait to be exclusively under Zuck’s thumb with no other options.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 21, 2023
At least it will be “sane”. Was worried there for a moment 😅.
This was quickly followed, of course, with an escalation. And Musk saying he was "up for a cage match" if Zuck is. But, as we know, Zuckerberg has been training in jiu jitsu, and has medals, so...
I’m up for a cage match if he is lol— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 21, 2023
Keeping this silly man stuff going, Zuck replied — via Instagram — saying "send me location."
And Musk responded Wednesday evening saying, "Vegas Octagon."
So yeah! This is dumb.
But, there could be some stakes here.
As New York Magazine writes, "Awkward cage-match jokes (plans?) aside, this is about more than just a small window of opportunity. There are obvious reasons that a social-media company like Meta might see an opening here. Twitter never reached the scale or profitability of Facebook or Instagram, and to call them competitors — at least in recent years — would probably be too generous to Twitter."
And no one can deny that Musk has taken Twitter in a terrible, chaotic direction from the perspective of advertisers — he's even admitted that he's so committed to his free-speech, let-the-fascists-be-fascists, let-me-say-what-want principals, that "if the consequence is losing money, so be it."
Per The Verge, Cox says the company wants to release the new app, maybe called Threads, "as soon as we can." And, reportedly, they've been talking to Oprah and the Dalai Lama about being among its first celebrity power users.
Photos: Left, photo by Chesnot/Getty Images; right, photo by Samantha Burkardt/Getty Images for SXSW