Bluesky, a social media platform that draws inspiration from Twitter and endorsed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has recently made a significant leap from being an exclusive, invite-only platform to becoming accessible to the general public. This development signifies a major milestone for the platform, which, up until recently, operated on an invitation-only basis. Prospective users previously had to seek out an existing member to obtain an invitation. This period of exclusivity allowed Bluesky to develop and refine its moderation tools and various other functionalities, according to statements made by the company.
How Does Bluesky Compare to Twitter?
In many ways, Bluesky mirrors the functionalities and layout of Twitter, which has been rebranded as X following its acquisition by Elon Musk for $44 billion. However, Bluesky differentiates itself by not offering direct messaging between users at this time. It compensates for this with a broader range of customization options, the appeal of which to the user base remains to be seen.
A distinctive feature of Bluesky is its approach to displaying posts. By default, the platform shows posts from accounts a user follows in a linear timeline, with the alternative option to switch to algorithm-driven timelines created by other users. Bluesky undertakes its own moderation internally but is also exploring a system where users can implement alternative moderation schemes. This aspect, however, is not yet available.
A forward-looking feature that Bluesky is excited about is enabling users to transfer their social data, such as friends, followers, and posts, to competing social networks. Through a whimsical cartoon shared during the announcement, Bluesky posits itself as potentially “the last social account you’ll ever need to create.” Yet, achieving such interoperability, or “federation,” between social media platforms is complex. There are various methods by which platforms can achieve federation, such as the ActivityPub algorithm used by Mastodon and Meta’s Threads, which facilitates user data transfer across platforms.
What Makes Bluesky’s Approach to Federation Unique?
Unlike the ActivityPub algorithm used by platforms like Mastodon and Meta’s Threads, Bluesky has opted for the Authenticated Transfer (AT) Protocol. This choice makes Bluesky unique in its approach but also presents challenges, as highlighted by the platform’s FAQ section, which points out the limitations of ActivityPub in account transfers and other features.
How Does Decentralization Benefit Bluesky Users?
Prior to the rise of Threads and amidst the declining user base of Twitter (now X), obtaining a Bluesky invitation was highly coveted. The platform, initially launched in a testing phase, has been gearing up for a wider adoption. Announced by Jack Dorsey in 2019, Bluesky aims to establish a decentralized standard for social media, emphasizing user control and data ownership—a vision that has attracted over 3 million users to date.
Bluesky’s decentralized nature seeks to address the growing concerns surrounding data privacy and monopolistic control in traditional social media platforms. The design philosophy of Bluesky places a strong emphasis on providing users with sensible default settings while offering the flexibility to customize and even leave the platform if desired. This approach to user autonomy and customization is further evidenced by the recent announcement from Bluesky CEO Jay Graber, stating that posts on the platform would be made accessible to anyone, account holder or not.
As Bluesky continues to develop, it highlights the importance of a robust infrastructure, advanced moderation capabilities, and an enhanced user experience. The introduction of Federation and the option for third-party moderation labeling are just some of the upcoming features demonstrating Bluesky’s commitment to redefining the social media landscape. With its decentralized model, Bluesky not only challenges existing social media paradigms but also offers new avenues for user interaction, data control, and platform interoperability.
The shift of Bluesky from an invitation-only to an open-access platform marks a turning point in social media’s evolution. Representing a move towards decentralized, user-centric social media experiences, Bluesky challenges current platforms and paves the way for new forms of user interaction and data sovereignty.
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