Here’s a first look at Bluesky from the Twitter co-founder

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey recently introduced his new social network Bluesky to the App Store as a “private beta.” Although new members need an invite to join Bluesky, there are already a few thousand people there – and I was able to take a closer look at how it works.

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The idea behind Bluesky

Jack Dorsey left Twitter in May 2022 amid negotiations with Elon Musk, who now owns the platform. However, the project behind Bluesky was born long before that. In 2019, Dorsey created a new project at Twitter to redefine the social network under a decentralized structure.

The initiative, which was internally called “Bluesky”, never materialized. But with Dorsey off Twitter, he decided to revive the project on his own. Under the hood, Bluesky is based on the AT protocol (originally called ADX or Authenticated Transfer Protocol). AT is similar to ActivityPub, the decentralized protocol that powers Mastodon.

As a decentralized social network, developers will not have full control over what users and other developers can do with the social network. Dorsey once said that platforms like Twitter should not have as much power “in terms of deciding which users and communities can participate in speech and who will be responsible for moderating that content.”

That’s how it works

Bluesky developers have made it super simple for users to create a new account. you just need to choose username and password and that’s it. By default, the official app already selects the official Bluesky Social server for new users, so most people won’t need to worry about that.

Once you log into Bluesky, the app looks extremely familiar to Twitter, but as a truly alpha version. There are three different tabs for timeline, search and notifications. At the same time, there is also a side menu with quick access to the user profile and application settings.

The interactions are also very similar to those of Twitter, which is not surprising since Bluesky was created as a side project of Twitter. The timeline is displayed in chronological order and you can reply, repost, mention or like other users’ posts.

Here's a first look at Bluesky, the new social network from the co-founder of Twitter

One of the things that has upset Twitter users with the social network is how it pushes algorithms to show recommended tweets, even from accounts you don’t follow. At least for now, Bluesky’s developers are focused on letting users see content from people they follow and “nothing more.”

Bluesky also has no ads at this point. According to one of the developers working with the platform, users will always have the option to “never have ads”. However, that doesn’t mean Bluesky won’t add ads at some point or even a paid subscription in the future, like Twitter Blue. “Some Bluesky experiences will have ads, some won’t,” the developer said.

What doesn’t work

Ever since Bluesky was released as a private beta, there are a lot of things that aren’t working. There are no GIFs, hashtags, or polls, the interface looks pretty basic, dark mode doesn’t work automatically, and notifications seem broken. Also, Bluesky does not have a web version or apps for iPad, Mac, Android and Windows.

Of course, most of these things will have to be addressed in the future. One of the developers revealed that the next Bluesky update will add a better onboarding flow, interface improvements and more. People working with the platform have also confirmed that support for GIFs will be added in the future, and there are also discussions about hashtag support.

Interestingly, it seems that Apple has dropped the latest Bluesky update on the App Store, but the developers are already taking care of it.

Can it replace Twitter?

It’s hard to say whether Bluesky can truly replace Twitter when it comes to attracting longtime users to the new social network.

Here's a first look at Bluesky, the decentralized social network from the co-founder of Twitter

Mastodon, for example, has gained a lot of attention recently amid Elon Musk’s Twitter-imposed changes, but it seems that most of the users involved in Mastodon are tinkerers annoyed by the fact that all third-party apps like Tweetbots were killed with the end of the Twitter API.

But Bluesky has one clear advantage over Mastodon right now, which is people’s enthusiasm for a new invite-only social network. It reminds me of Clubhouse in its early days, where everyone wanted to join the platform just because you had to have an invite – and those who did felt good about it.

Of course, this will not make Bluesky successful, but it will help the platform gain attention from mainstream people. And arguably, Bluesky seems less complicated than Mastodon for non-tech users. Most of the people I’ve seen there are random people who were just curious to get an invite and try out the platform.

Soon, Bluesky users will be able to invite new users to the platform. However, it remains unclear when Bluesky will officially roll out to everyone – and whether the social network will still have traction until then.

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