Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s new decentralized Twitter alternative, BlueSky, has taken a major step forward as it enters a closed beta phase, now available exclusively on Apple’s App Store.
Bluesky started in 2019 as a side project funded by Twitter. Dorsey saw it as a more open alternative to centralized Twitter. Bluesky spun off as its own company in 2021. The Bluesky initiative’s aim is to develop a decentralized social media protocol where social networks can interact through a single application.
Jack Dorsey stepped down from Twitter in November 29, 2021, to focus on his other company, Square. Elon Musk bought Twitter a year later, on October 27, 2022.
Unlike Twitter, Bluesky does not store user data on its own servers, but instead stores it on a distributed network of computers. This means that users can access their data from any device, and that their data is more secure.
Dorsey said he believes social media should be free of government or corporate control and that authors should be the final authority on whether or not content is removed.
Per Bluesky’s website, the new platform gives creators independence from platforms and developers, as well as the freedom to design, allowing users to customize their experience.
At the time, Dorsey said he was funding an independent team charged with developing an “open and decentralized standard for social media.”
Conversely, he stated that Twitter’s decision to ban Donald Trump after his role in the January 6 insurrection was the right decision, but he was worried about the precedent it set in endangering a free and open global internet.
Bluesky’s user interface has been kept simple with Twitter’s dominant blue colour retained. Users have 256 characters to create a post, which also includes photos by clicking on the app’s plus button. Additionally Bluesky users can now mute, block or share accounts. But advanced tools like adding accounts to a list are unavailable at present on the app.
It also provides suggestions of who to follow and includes the classic feed where users can inspect recent updates on followed accounts.
The iOS has been available since February 17 and has been installed around 2,000 times in the testing phase, according to app intelligence firm data.ai.
Anyone interested in joining the application can submit an email address to join the waitlist.
We are trying to do our part by funding an initiative around an open decentralized standard for social media. Our goal is to be a client of that standard for the public conversation layer of the internet. We call it @bluesky: https://t.co/51or6OuNNv
— jack (@jack) January 14, 2021
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Twitter alternatives offer alternative perspectives
But Dorsey’s Bluesky isn’t the only Twitter alternative. The first Twitter alternative was Jaiku, launched in 2006.
Jaiku was a microblogging platform launched in 2006. It was similar to Twitter in that it allowed users to post short messages, or “jaikus”, and follow other users. It also had a feature called “presence” which allowed users to see when their friends were online. Google acquired Jaiku in 2007 and shut it down in 2012.
It was one of the first social media platforms to offer features such as following other users, posting short messages, and seeing when friends were online.
Other alternatives have since risen to challenge Twitter’s dominance.
Founded by tech entrepreneurs in 2018, Counter Social is based in San Francisco, California. The social media network follows a similar format as Twitter, but with 500 characters per post. It also has no bots, ads, internet trolls and a zero tolerance to hostile nations policy, according to the site.
The platform’s features include Counter Share, Emergency Radio Traffic, which lets users tap into radio frequencies, and CoSocial conferencing where users can have private Zoom-like conferences online.
Unlike Twitter, it allows the creation of communities called COSO groups. Here users can join and network more like with Facebook communities than Twitter offerings.
Launched in October 2016, Mastodon is another alternative to Twitter. It follows the same ‘micro-blogging’ format, but has adaptable policies called ‘Mastodon Instances.’
Additionally, the algorithm includes a self-selection capability. The platform asks a user a series of questions about their preferences for their feed and tailors content for them.
This allows the user to screen out content that’s irrelevant like salacious content, spam or links to illegal content. After which, the site guides the user to a specific instance tailored to said preferences.
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