Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky: A Twitter Alternative without Elon Musk
April 28, 2023
As I scrolled through Twitter, I couldn’t help but feel by the demoralizing atmosphere of the platform. It was then that I found out more about Bluesky Social, a potential antidote to what ails Twitter.
Created by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Bluesky Social is a decentralized social media platform that launched quietly in October of 2022. While few of my acquaintances had heard of it, the app has recently become available on both Android and iOS. Over the past few days (as of April 25), the invite-only platform has gained traction as early adopters have shared invite codes with friends, influencers, and even celebrities.
Bluesky Social might be the solution that many disenchanted Twitter users have been seeking. Unlike Twitter, the platform is free from the overwhelming presence of Elon Musk fans and other sycophantic behavior. Bluesky Social’s decentralized structure also allows users to have greater control over their data and content.
If you’re tired of Twitter, consider giving Bluesky Social a try. With invite codes becoming more widely available, you might just find a new social media home that better aligns with your values.
What is Bluesky?
Bluesky, the Twitter alternative created by Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, has recently become available on the App Store and more users are gaining access through invite-only beta testing. The app’s arrival on the App Store could indicate that a public launch is on the horizon.
Since October 2022, the Bluesky team has been working on its social protocol, AT (Authenticated Transfer Protocol), which powers its Twitter-like app. The goal of AT is to create a decentralized and federated social network, similar to Mastodon’s ActivityPub protocol. However, there has been some criticism of Bluesky’s efforts, particularly from Mastodon and other developers who argue that ActivityPub already powers a large and growing network of interconnected servers.
After Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition, many users migrated to Mastodon’s open-source, decentralized platform. Former Twitter third-party app developers have also contributed to Mastodon’s success by releasing polished clients like Ivory and Mammoth.
Flipboard and other companies have also expressed interest in or committed to using the ActivityPub standard. The future of Bluesky remains uncertain in light of these developments.
How does the Bluesky project work?
Bluesky, a public benefit company, was originally incubated within Twitter in 2019 under the leadership of Jack Dorsey, who also provided financial backing for the project. Although the project was established before Twitter’s sale to current owner Elon Musk, the two executives discussed the idea of an open-source protocol over text messages before the acquisition.
In a text conversation, Dorsey told Musk that a new platform was necessary and that it could not be a company, which is why he left Twitter. Shortly after stepping down as CEO, Dorsey publicly discussed Bluesky on Twitter, describing it as an open, decentralized standard for social media.
Dorsey believed that Bluesky would reduce the power of large, centralized platforms like Twitter in deciding which users and communities could engage in speech and who would be responsible for moderating content. This discussion took place around the time when Dorsey was sharing his thoughts about Twitter’s decision to ban President Trump from its platform.
With Musk now in charge of Twitter, it is uncertain whether or how the two projects will remain connected. Bluesky received $13 million in funding last year to enable research and development of technologies that facilitate open and decentralized public conversations. The funding, according to Bluesky, was not subject to any conditions other than the research and development of these technologies. Dorsey remained on Bluesky’s board even after leaving Twitter’s board in May 2022.
Twitter has been cutting costs significantly, including through layoffs, auctions, office closures, and even non-payment of bills. It is unlikely that a side project like Bluesky will remain a priority.
How does Bluesky Work?
The Bluesky app is now available to beta testers and has over 2,000 installs since its debut on February 17, 2023. Although it’s currently invite-only, the app is not yet ranking on any Top Charts in the U.S. and is only available on iOS. During onboarding, Bluesky’s suggested user list does not include many high-profile individuals, unlike Mastodon.
The user interface of the Bluesky app is straightforward, with a plus button to create a post of up to 256 characters that can include photos. The app’s search function allows users to find and follow others, with user profiles displaying features like a profile pic, bio, and metrics such as number of followers and posts. Profile feeds are divided into posts and posts & replies, and users can share, mute, and block accounts.
The discover tab in the app’s navigation offers “who to follow” suggestions and a feed of recently posted Bluesky updates. Users can reply to, retweet, like, report, share, or copy posts using a three-dot menu. Notifications include likes, reposts, follows, and replies, but there are no DMs.
Precisely because we are estimating we are talking about a beta version, the application has some bugs at the moment. But since it is not yet fully open to the public, this is a more than forgivable mistake.