Bluesky is the new decentralised social media platform that is touted as an alternative to Twitter. Source: Bluesky

What Is Bluesky And How Does It Work? A Twitter Alternative, Explained

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As Twitter removes legacy blue checkmarks, disables APIs, and continues to lose ad partners, users are constantly searching for an alternative to the bird app. And it may well have found one – named Bluesky – thanks to, of all people, Twitter’s original founder.

This week, Bluesky, a new social media platform, has found itself at the centre of attention. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chrissy Teigen, Taylor Lorenz, and a number of notable reporters have flocked to the Twitter alternative. Bluesky is being touted as an app that could potentially replace Twitter if the bird app continues to deliver an underwhelming user experience.

So what is Bluesky, where is it from, and how does it work?

What Is Bluesky?

Bluesky was founded in 2019 by *drum roll* Twitter. It was initially created as a project whose aim was to create “an open and decentralised standard for social media.” 

Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO, Jack Dorsey, is a hardcore believer in Bitcoin and decentralised blockchain technology. After Twitter, he co-founded crypto-focused payments company Square — now known as Block — in 2009.

So, Bluesky was a project that formed part of Dorsey’s larger ambition to create an alternative to present day social media. To Dorsey, it would be one that is “not owned by any single private corporation”, and furthers “the open and decentralised principles of the internet.”

In 2021, Bluesky received initial funding from Twitter to develop a prototype platform. In March 2023, Bluesky began inviting users on its waitlist to test out the app.

How Does Bluesky Work?

The Bluesky app is now available for iOS and Android devices. The catch? In order to use it, you will need to have an invite code, just like the good old days of Clubhouse.

Bluesky offers features that are similar to that of Twitter. After downloading it, users are required to pick a unique domain name as their handle. Users have a ‘Followers’ and ‘Following’ list, and are able to share posts.

Posts can also be liked, re-shared, and replied to. Some have started calling Bluesky posts “skeets”, a play on Twitter’s “tweets”, according to The New York Times.

Bluesky’s CEO, Jay Graber, asking the community not to use “skeets” – but too late now. Source: The New York Times

Each “skeet” has a limit of 300 characters. For now, users can only post texts and images, no videos. It’s not surprising as the app is still in its early stages, so you can expect more features to be added soon.

Users can choose between a chronological feed or a ‘For You’ type algorithmic feed. In March, Bluesky announced a ‘marketplace’ for algorithms that would let users customise what they would like to see on their timeline. This is unusual compared to traditional social media networks that subject users to one singular algorithm.

Why Is It Significant?

Perhaps Bluesky’s most compelling feature that sets it apart from Twitter is that users would eventually be able to export data and content created on the site onto other platforms. Traditionally, most social media sites have been “walled gardens”. According to The New York Times, this means that whatever is posted on a platform, stays on said platform.

For example, if you want to export a TikTok video to Instagram, you will need to download it first, then upload it to Instagram. A TikTok watermark remains and you will have to source for a third-party tool to get rid of it. In short, it’s troublesome, and Bluesky wants to get rid of that.

“Change hosts without losing your content, your follows, or your identity,” Bluesky’s protocol introduction page reads. This is what Dorsey means by creating a “decentralised” and “open” social network. In the future, users would also be able to build their own apps within the platform.

People on Twitter are starting to ask their social circles for invite codes too, so much so that users are joking it is now a new status symbol on social media.

There has yet to be data on Bluesky’s app downloads, but with big names joining the platform, it would not be surprising to see it skyrocket on the app store.