“The sky is bluer on the other side of the Twittersphere,” they say. But is it really?
With X (the social media network formerly known as Twitter) triggering a host of concerns and complaints since Elon Musk took ownership in late 2022, disgruntled users have been seeking an alternative. In response, rival social media platforms have popped up that aim to offer a Twitter-like experience but without the baggage that Musk brings to the table. One such service is Bluesky Social.
Bluesky is still in beta, but it’s already generating much buzz. And for good reason.
The platform offers a number of features that make it a compelling alternative to Twitter.
First and foremost, Bluesky is decentralized. This means that there is no central server that controls the platform. Instead, the platform is run by a network of nodes, each storing a copy of the data. This makes it more resistant to censorship and manipulation.
Second, Bluesky is community-moderated. This means that users have a say in what content is allowed on the platform. There is no one person or group making all the decisions. Instead, users can flag content that they think is inappropriate, and the community can vote on whether or not to remove it.
Third, Bluesky is open source. This means that anyone can contribute to the development of the platform. This makes it more transparent and accountable.
“People have been saying for years that it would be great if users could own their data and their relationships; if we could have transparent algorithms and algorithmic choice; if there could be more accountability and user control over how social platforms are moderated,” Bluesky CEO Jay Graber wrote in a March 2023 blog post. “We’ve now designed and built a system that we think achieves the goals stated above.”
How is Bluesky Different from Twitter?
Bluesky is a new social media platform that is still in development, but it has some key differences from Twitter. Here are a few of them:
- No ads: Bluesky does not have any advertisements. This means that users are not bombarded with commercial messages.
- No algorithms: Bluesky does not use algorithms to rank content. This means that users see all the content that is posted, not just the content that the platform thinks they want to see.
- Data ownership and privacy: Bluesky is designed to give users more control over their data. Users will be able to own their data and decide how it is used.
- Content control and censorship: Bluesky is designed to be more decentralized than Twitter. This means that there is no central authority that can control content or censor users.
These are just a few of the ways that Bluesky is different from Twitter. It remains to be seen how the platform will evolve, but it has the potential to be a more user-friendly and privacy-focused alternative to Twitter.
Sidenote: Let’s Address the, Er, Mastodon in the Room
Bluesky isn’t the first platform to be considered a potential competitor to Musk-era Twitter. After Musk purchased Twitter, millions of people, including many journalists, joined Mastodon, another decentralized microblogging social platform. However, Mastodon’s popularity quickly waned. In December 2022, the platform had 2.5 million monthly users, but by late January 2023, that number had dropped to 1.4 million.
So, Who’s on Bluesky?
By the beginning of July 2023, when Instagram’s Threads launched, Bluesky topped a million downloads across iOS and Android. Notable figures and organizations, from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to Twitter-exile NPR, have found a new home on Bluesky.
This writer, Merilyn Ritchie, is also now on Bluesky. You can connect with her at @merilyn.bsky.social.
How To Score A Bluesky Invite Code
Joining Bluesky Social requires a hard-to-get invite code. And for that, you’ll either need to hop onto the waitlist (https://bsky.app/) or ask an existing Bluesky user to send you a spare invitation. Once you have your invite code, you can join Bluesky via the mobile app or website.
How to Use Bluesky
Once you’re invited to Bluesky, you’ll create a handle, which is like a username. Your handle will be @username.bsky.social, but you can also use a domain name you own.
The app works much like the original Twitter. You can create posts of up to 300 characters, which can include photos. You can reply to, reshare, like, and report posts. You can also search for and follow other users. Your “Home” timeline will show you updates from the people you follow, and the “What’s Hot” timeline will show you engaging posts from around the network.
Your profile will have a profile picture, background, bio, and metrics like how many people you’re following and how many followers you have. Your profile feed will be divided into two sections: posts and posts & replies.
A “Discover” tab also shows suggestions for other users to follow and a running feed of recently posted Bluesky updates.
Is the Term ‘Skeets’ Actually Used for Bluesky Posts?
While there isn’t an official name for Bluesky posts, some internet users have playfully coined the term “skeets.” This quirky amalgamation of “tweet” and “sky” has caught on, even though it has sparked some resistance from Bluesky CEO Jay Graber and others who don’t particularly find the term amusing. Despite Graber’s pleas for a different terminology, frequent users still affectionately refer to posts as “skeets.”
Monetization Opportunities for Content Creators
Bluesky recognizes the importance of content creators and wants to empower them to generate revenue. Once public, the platform will offer a variety of monetization options.
If you’re looking for a Twitter alternative that is decentralized, community-moderated, open-source, ad-free, and algorithm-free, then Bluesky Social is worth checking out.