Is Bluesky the one? A Twitter alternative takes off.Reading Time: 3 minutes
The Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky is gaining popularity among power users of Elon Musk’s Twitter.
A centrist political pundit being ratioed the moment he arrives. Discourse that would have people who overuse the word ‘woke’ frothing at the mouth. A CEO begging users to please not call posts on the platform ‘skeets.’ Users continue to call said posts ‘skeets.’ Oh, and @dril and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are there now too.
As one Bluesky user put it, it appears Bluesky has the ‘juice.’
If you’re unfamiliar with Bluesky don’t worry. Most everyone was unaware of the platform before yesterday too. So, what is Bluesky?
What is Bluesky?
Bluesky is a ‘decentralized’ social media platform backed by former Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey. It’s led by CEO Jay Graber, who was chosen by pre-Musk Twitter at least in part thanks to her background as a crypto developer, according to CoinDesk. It was meant to function a bit like Mastodon, another Twitter alternative, with its federated universe of individual servers that users can traverse. But Bluesky is very new, and those separations between communities that ended up working against Mastodon — since many users found them confusing — have basically not been built yet.
What we are left with is a barebones ‘microblogging’ app extremely reminiscent of the early days of Twitter. It looks like old Twitter from the UI, and as of yesterday, down to the low-stakes fun postings. Short, funny posts reign supreme on the app right now.
On Bluesky, you can’t DM anyone. There’s no video functionality. Users can’t even upload a GIF.
Users have 300 characters per post (I’m sorry, I mean per ‘skeet’) and can post non-moving images. That’s it. How do you find content? There’s a following feed filled with chronological posts from the users you follow. And there’s a ‘What’s Hot’ feed, which appears to chronologically show posts on the platform that receive a lot of ‘reposts’ and ‘likes’ regardless of whether you are following the user or not.
There’s no NFT profile pics. There’s no blue checkmark verification badges, even if you have $8 to spare. Hell, I can’t even figure out where I can change my password, if that’s even possible to begin with.
Can I get on Bluesky?
Bluesky right now is invite-only. Two weeks ago, I was given an invite and set up my account. At the time, the platform was pretty boring. The user base was almost entirely techies: Annoying Web3 guys proselytizing about blockchain and good developers talking earnestly about their profession. That’s okay I guess, but that’s not Twitter. I thought Bluesky would go the way of these other Twitter alternatives: Fine as a niche community, but nope, not going to take the place of Twitter.
Will Bluesky be the Twitter killer?
But then from Wednesday evening into Thursday, something happened. It appears a number of Bluesky invite codes just happened to land into the right hands: Funny Twitter shitposters.
Since Elon Musk first took over Twitter, many users have longed for a place to go that’s free of Musk and his way of running a social media site. Every decision from Musk had weighed into the degradation of the platform, but probably the most jarring change was the prioritization of people who pay $8 for Twitter Blue. Their posts are everywhere now, filling the For You feed and being pushed to the very top of the replies on a tweet’s reply thread.
Bluesky just was the right app, in the right place, at the right time.
Now, it’s still very early. One good day does not make a platform. Just because Bluesky spent all day trending on Twitter, doesn’t mean Twitter should be worried, even though Zoe Schiffer of Platformer reported that Bluesky was a hot topic in private Twitter chats.
What are Bluesky’s weaknesses?
Bluesky could still screw it all up. For example, the platform’s currently invite-only status could be a boon or kill it off. Bring in new people too fast, you may bring in too many of the undesirables that ruined Twitter too quickly. Bring in new people too slow, good users will lose interest because it just took too long to get that invite. And let’s not forget, they still want to do that whole ‘decentralized’ thing that most normal people find confusing.
If Bluesky does actually end up taking a bite out of Twitter’s market share, though, it would be very funny, because Twitter actually did give Bluesky a good chunk of its initial funding. Before Musk took over, Twitter and Bluesky had a partnership, and when Musk came on the scene after spending $44 billion to acquire Twitter, that partnership ended.
But not before Bluesky received $13 million from its now-rival to create what it has so far. That’s a fun fact that will make for some good skeetable content.
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