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May 8, 2024
(Updated on
Feb 8, 2024

Blue Sky Ditches Invite-Only Sign Ups And Gets 800K New Users On Its First Day.

The decentralized Twitter rival, Bluesky, is making moves as it gets ready to launch its underlying protocol, the AT Protocol, and opens to the public. Bluesky is removing its invite-only sign-up process and allowing anyone to sign up, having amassed over two million users during its closed beta phase. Additionally, the platform plans to enable outside developers to host their own servers on the AT Protocol later this month, providing users with more options and flexibility. This is what makes Bluesky different from its competitors: its decentralized infrastructure, which Jack Dorsey paid for.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

The platform's commitment to user experience, coupled with technical advancements like open federation and customizable content moderation services, aims to provide a seamless and safe social media environment. However, challenges persist, particularly regarding the potential for abuse or harmful content on decentralized platforms. Bluesky's approach to moderation involves a balance between user empowerment and intervention by the platform itself, with a focus on minimizing harm while maintaining user autonomy. Despite uncertainties in its development, Bluesky's emergence as a separate entity from Twitter positions it as a contender among social media platforms. Bluesky’s key features include: 

  1. Democratizing Access: By removing the invite system, Bluesky is democratizing access to its platform, allowing anyone to sign up and experience its decentralized approach to social networking. This move reflects Bluesky's commitment to inclusivity and its belief in the power of decentralized technology to empower users and foster transparency in online communication.
  2. Expansion of Ecosystem: Bluesky's decision to enable outside developers to host their own servers on the AT Protocol is a crucial step towards expanding its ecosystem and fostering innovation. This move not only enhances scalability but also provides users with a broader range of options and functionalities, thus enriching the overall user experience and stimulating growth within the platform.
  3. Prioritizing User Experience and Safety: The platform aims to strike a balance between simplicity for less technically literate users and options for more advanced customization. Bluesky's focus on user experience and safety is evident through features like open federation and customizable content moderation services. These initiatives aim to provide users with a seamless and secure social media environment while preserving user autonomy and fostering a positive online community.
  4. Balancing User Empowerment and Platform Intervention: Despite the challenges inherent in managing decentralized platforms, Bluesky's approach to moderation strikes a delicate balance between user empowerment and platform intervention. By prioritizing harm reduction and user autonomy, Bluesky aims to cultivate a positive and inclusive online community while minimizing the potential for abuse or harmful content.
  5. Commitment to Resilient Infrastructure: As Bluesky opens its doors to the public, CEO Jay Graber emphasizes the platform's commitment to building resilient infrastructure and ensuring a seamless user experience. With a growing user base and innovative features in the pipeline, Bluesky aims to solidify its position as a leading decentralized social media platform.
  6. Public Benefit Corporation: Operating as a public benefit corporation, Bluesky prioritizes user support and moderation, underscoring its dedication to fostering a safe and inclusive online environment. With plans for monetization through additional features and enterprise services, Bluesky aims to ensure its long-term sustainability while maintaining its commitment to user empowerment and transparency.

Bluesky, operating as a public benefit corporation, has just under 40 full-time employees, with a significant focus on moderation and user support. The platform boasts 3 million monthly users and 25,000 custom feeds, showcasing the diversity and quirkiness inherent to Bluesky's approach. As Bluesky prepares to roll out the AT Protocol for third-party developers, Graber highlights plans for monetization through additional features, custom feeds, and enterprise services. However, it was also acknowledged that there is a need to eventually transition control of the AT Protocol to a web standards body to ensure long-term sustainability.

While Bluesky's focus is not currently on interoperating with ActivityPub (an open, decentralized protocol designed for federated social networking), Graber recognizes the importance of experimentation in the evolving landscape of social networking. Despite ActivityPub's current prominence, Bluesky sees potential for another take on decentralized social networking and remains open to future possibilities. With 3 million users already on board, Bluesky aims to offer a decentralized alternative to traditional social media platforms like Twitter and Meta's Threads.

Graber explains that the delay in opening up Bluesky to everyone was primarily to ensure the platform's underlying infrastructure and moderation capabilities were robust enough to provide a good user experience. The upcoming features, such as Federation and third-party moderation services, required time to develop properly. Regarding concerns about losing momentum during the transition period, Graber emphasizes Bluesky's focus on building resilient infrastructure for the long term. The platform aims to avoid the pitfalls of centralized platforms by providing decentralized alternatives, ensuring that users have more control over their social media experience.

Bluesky's grand opening to the public was met with significant fanfare and excitement, despite encountering some initial hiccups. Transitioning from its exclusive invite-only beta phase, Bluesky saw an influx of nearly 800,000 new users within its first day, marking a substantial leap in its user base. The platform's total signups are expected to surpass the 4 million milestone, a testament to the enduring curiosity surrounding this decentralized, open-source social app. 

While Bluesky may still trail behind other platforms in terms of user count, its rapid growth trajectory mirrors that of its competitor, showcasing immense potential for expansion.

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