It’s easy to pinpoint how the seemingly irrevocable downfall of Twitter began. Although the social media platform, launched in 2006, was losing its charm in recent times due to trolling, hate speech, and propaganda, it wasn’t until April 2022 that it changed perhaps irreversibly. In April 2022, Tesla founder Elon Musk became the biggest shareholder in Twitter and later that year, bought the platform, triggering users to frantically search for an alternative. As it turns out, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey had already been working on one—Bluesky.
In recent months, touted as the new Twitter, Bluesky has drawn users looking for a Musk-free platform. Bluesky is led by CEO Jay Garber while Dorsey remains on the board. Prominent Twitter users such as US Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, model Chrissy Teigen, and talk show host Jimmy Fallon have jumped onto the Bluesky bandwagon.
Bluesky is a social network that looks and feels similar to Twitter and offers many of Twitter's primary features such as sharing short text of up to 300 characters and images, and replying to each others' posts. Although the app is still being developed, it was made available for iOS devices in February 2023 and for Android users in April.
According to a blog post by its CEO, it all began with a tweet from Jack Dorsey announcing Twitter’s intentions to fund the development of an open protocol for decentralised social media. A decentralised platform means that data is stored on independent servers rather than ones owned by the company, according to HT Tech. Many interested people messaged him to follow up on it, including Garber. And with that, initial discussions regarding the app started with a dozen of people, Garber said in the blog post. Regarding its mission, Dorsey wrote in an initial brief for the developers working on the Bluesky app, that their biggest and long-term goal is “to build a durable and open protocol for public conversation. That it not be owned by any one organisation but contributed by as many as possible.”
Bluesky became independent of Twitter in early 2022, before Elon Musk bought Twitter. It was set up as a public benefit limited liability company, indicating that it will operate in a socially responsible way.
The new platform has a What’s Hot, Following, For You, and the Following feed. More importantly, the content is moderated by automated filtering, manual admin actions, and community labelling. Users can also add labels to their posts based on which other users can also adopt them.
Currently, Bluesky has an invite code sign-up process to limit network abuse. So, if you want to join Bluesky, you will have to go to the website and join the waitlist for an invite.
Bluesky is focusing on making the platform user-driven, and giving more control to people on the data shared as well as what they see on the platform. If this works out, this could come as a relief for people after Musk made drastic changes to Twitter such as paid subscriptions and blue tick payments.
As stated in a blog post in February, Bluesky’s mission is “to develop and drive large-scale adoption of technologies for open and decentralised public conversation.” It is built on the AT Protocol (Authenticated Transport Protocol) which allows users to see how the network is built and what is in development, according to HT Tech. This makes the platform more user-driven than Twitter ever was. It also offers portable accounts, wherein users can move from one app to another without losing their content.
On Bluesky, users can set their domain as their handle, which makes verification more efficient than Twitter’s blue ticks. The choice of making a decentralised social platform available for people seems to have received a warm welcome.
Recently, The New York Times reported that a user who goes by the name “em” said on Bluesky, “There’s something so refreshing about scrolling through a feed and seeing posts from accounts you follow that are funny instead of accounts that you don’t follow and think you don’t deserve rights.”
Bluesky does offer an alternative for those tired of Twitter, and its improved moderation and user-driven features have attracted people to join the waitlist. Currently, the invite-only platform has about 50,000 users.
In March, a Bluesky user wondered if the app’s name came from Dorsey's wish to transform Twitter into an open protocol, freeing Twitter’s bird mascot to a blue sky, as reported by The New York Times. Dorsey responded with a “Yes.” If the open protocol remains the core aim of Bluesky, it could be a refreshingly different social media platform.