New online network: Bluesky Social: What you need to know about the Twitter alternative

Bluesky Social is a new microblogging client that looks and works similar to Twitter.

New online network: Bluesky Social: What you need to know about the Twitter alternative

Bluesky Social is a new microblogging client that looks and works similar to Twitter. According to the company, users should primarily be able to try out the protocol that the company has developed for networks on the Internet with the app. This should enable a decentralized structure of the network and the exchange of content across various online services.

Bluesky's "Authentic Transfer Protocol" (AT protocol for short) creates a standard format for identity, followers and data in social media. Users can also use it to move to other networks. The protocol should also allow Bluesky Social to be operated decentrally, similar to the "Activity Pub Protocol" of Eugen Rochko's Mastodon network.

In contrast to services such as Twitter, TikTok and Co., which run centrally via the operating company's servers, users can register on decentralized platforms via many small servers. The operators of the servers are individuals who set up their own rules for their servers - they are not dictated by the network. According to Bluesky, there shouldn't be a central algorithm in the app either, but users should be able to decide for themselves which algorithms they want to use - and thus also which content they want to see.

Although the app can already be downloaded from the Apple and Google stores, it is still in beta status. To use it, you need a tester invite code. In order to get this, interested parties can either be put on a waiting list on the company's website. Or someone who already uses Bluesky can forward an invite code once a week. It is not yet clear when the app will be open to everyone.

According to the company, around 50,000 users are currently activated. Most recently, Bluesky announced that it had experienced the largest daily jump in the number of new users since its inception. In the United States, some celebrities and people from politics and the start-up scene are said to have registered in the past few days.

The tech magazine "Techcrunch" already had access to Bluesky and describes the network as a "slimmed-down Twitter". The profile interface is very similar to Twitter in terms of design and functionality. Users can create a username with an @ handle, they have a profile picture, a background and they are shown follower numbers and followed accounts. The posts that users can create can have a length of up to 256 characters and can contain photos. The posts can be created via a plus button.

There is also a search function for accounts and other accounts can be muted or blocked. As with Twitter, the profile feeds are divided into posts and posts and replies. Posts can be liked, shared and answered. However, according to Techcrunch, the Discover category has an ongoing feed of recent Bluesky posts and who to follow suggestions based on a profile's posts.

Direct messages and videos are not yet available at Bluesky, as well as some other functions that are known from competitors like Twitter.

Bluesky was originally started as a project by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey when he was still CEO of Twitter. In 2019 he presented Bluesky as an extension of Twitter. Bluesky has been an independent company since 2021, but was still financed by Twitter until the beginning of last year. Even before the sale to Elon Musk, Twitter terminated the contract. Bluesky is incorporated as a Public Benefit Limited Liability Company (PBLLC). This means that the company wants to create a public benefit and must also prove this.

According to a tweet by Bluesky, Jack Dorsey is part of the board of directors, as is Jeremie Miller, developer of the open communication protocol XMPP/Jabber. Dorsey described Bluesky as an "open, decentralized social media standard" shortly after leaving Twitter. In his opinion, the AT protocol could allow limiting the power of large, centralized platforms.

The decisive reason for using Bluesky is probably the decentralized structure and openness to innovation of the platform. Otherwise, apart from a few missing functions, the network hardly differs from Twitter at the moment. The success of the platform is likely to depend heavily on the community that is just beginning to build - like any social medium, its attractiveness depends on a network effect. However, since the Musk takeover, Twitter has lost some of its relevance.

Above all, the app could ensure that new apps are developed on the basis of the AT protocol, which fit into the network structure built by Bluesky and attract more users.