The Gist

  • What it is. Bluesky Social is a decentralized alternative to Twitter, powered by what the company calls the "AT Protocol.”
  • Invite only. The app is currently in private beta, with access invite only.
  • Founded by Jack. Bluesky Social was founded by Jack Dorsey, co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, and the project's goal is to "develop and drive large-scale adoption of technologies for open and decentralized public conversation."

Looking for yet another Twitter alternative? Bluesky, the decentralized project that originated within Twitter, has arrived on the Apple App Store, but as a private beta — access to this social-network is currently invite only.

The man behind the network is Jack Dorsey, co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, whom some have described as “a slightly restrained volcano.”

The app has been years in the making and was originally funded by Twitter. But in 2021, Dorsey announced he was stepping down as Twitter CEO and within three months, declared that Bluesky PBLLC (Public Benefit LLC) was now “an independent organization” with the stated mission “to develop and drive large-scale adoption of technologies for open and decentralized public conversation.”

What Is the Bluesky Social App?

Bluesky Social is a decentralized alternative to the existing Twitter platform with the slogan, “Find your scene, post what's new, and stay connected.”

At the moment, the app is rated five stars — gleaned from just five ratings. Going by screenshots posted on the app site, the profile format appears very similar to Twitter, allowing users to follow and be followed, repost and upload photos.

Reportedly, a simplified user interface allows users to create a post with a maximum of 256 characters, including photos, with the click of a plus button.

Powered by what Bluesky calls the “AT Protocol,” company officials describe it as a new federated social network that provides “a way for servers to communicate with each other — like email. Instead of one site running the network, you can have many sites. It means you get a choice of provider, and individuals and businesses can self-host if they want.”

What's unique about the AT Protocol? According to the company, special features include algorithmic choice, interoperation and account portability that allows users to move accounts from one provider to another without losing data.

“The many existing decentralized social networks that currently make up the ecosystem can be categorized into federated and p2p architectures. Our approach will be to combine the best of both worlds by integrating the portability of self-certifying protocols with the user-friendliness of delegated hosting, so users don’t have to run their own infrastructure and developers can build performant apps, company officials said, in a statement. “Moderation is an important part of any online social forum, which is why we will proactively build tooling for reputation and moderation systems that are transparent, opt-in, and multi-layered, as well as create frameworks for others to build such tooling.”

Further, he noted that while the company does see use cases for blockchains, “Bluesky is not a blockchain. We believe the adoption of social web protocols should be independent of any blockchain.”

Related Article: What Is Mastodon, the Red-Hot Open Source Twitter Rival

Learning Opportunities

How to Sign up for BlueSky Social

Currently, while the Bluesky Social app is available for download, an invite code is required to create an account. According to the developer page, Bluesky will launch soon, but those interested in trying it now can join a waitlist to sign up for the beta before it's publicly available.

According to app intelligence firm, the Bluesky iOS app debuted on Feb. 17 and had 2,000 installs in the testing phase.

Related Article: Twitter vs. Mastodon: The Marketing Reality

Who’s Behind Bluesky Social?

In a series of tweets posted in 2019, Dorsey (then as the current CEO of Twitter) announced his intention to create an “open and decentralized social network” based on four core principles — account transferability, algorithmic efficacy and interconnectivity. Further, he noted the project would be funded by Twitter and made up of a “small independent team of up to five open-source architects, engineers and designers” with the goal for “Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard.”

At the time, some in the decentralized network community appeared unimpressed. Some asked how it would be different from Mastodon; and Mastodon, the 2016-founded decentralized social network, acknowledged Dorsey's plan with a cryptic tweet.

In a post to the Bluesky blog on Feb. 7, 2022, the board members listed included Dorsey, Jeremie Miller, the inventor of Jabber/XMPP, and Jay Graber, CEO of the Bluesky company.

The following month the initial members of the Bluesky team included.

  • Daniel Holmgren, a protocol engineer with previous experience developing on IPFS at Fission
  • Paul Frazee, a protocol engineer and full-stack web developer
  • Aaron Goldman, a security engineer who was most recently at Twitter and previously worked on trust and safety at Google

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