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Zuckerberg’s Meta tries to lure Oprah and Dalai Lama to help launch Twitter rival

Mark Zuckerberg - Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg - Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Meta is trying to lure Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama to its upcoming Twitter rival as Mark Zuckerberg attempts to take on Elon Musk.

The Facebook owner is plotting the launch of a new text-based social networking app, internally called Threads.

Chris Cox, Meta’s chief product officer, reportedly called the in-development app “our response to Twitter”.

The new app will compete with Twitter and attempt to take advantage of Mr Musk’s increasingly chaotic stewardship.

The plan has been codenamed internally as Project 92, according to The Verge, which first reported the details.

The company showed off test screen shots of the new app, which included a button similar to Twitter’s retweet function.

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Mr Cox told staff at an all-hands meeting that Meta had been in talks with high-profile Twitter users including Ms Winfrey and the Dalai Lama, encouraging them to open accounts on the new app.

Development of the app began in January, the Verge reported, with the company aiming to launch the app as soon as possible.

The plan comes as some users grow disillusioned with Twitter, which has undergone a host of design changes and seen advertisers fall away.

Elon Musk - REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Elon Musk - REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Rival apps, including Mastodon and Bluesky, a new service being developed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, have enjoyed an influx of new users.

Meanwhile, some advertisers have pulled back from Twitter after Mr Musk rescinded blocks on a number of accounts previously banned by the social network after his takeover last year.

Mr Musk has insisted the changes were made to champion free speech, but activists have warned the company has reinstated dozens of accounts previously blocked for spreading hate speech.

Mr Cox reportedly told Meta staff: “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.”

More than 3.8 billion people already use at least one of Meta’s apps, which also include WhatsApp and Instagram.

On Thursday, the company also announced tweaks to WhatsApp that put it into more direct competition with Twitter.

The private messaging service will now allow users to broadcast messages to large numbers of followers.

The app’s new Channels feature will encourage users to subscribe to updates from celebrities and organisations, similar to how many people use Twitter.