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With Twitter gone and users unsure about X, is Bluesky the future? We try it out

How does Bluesky compare to X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter?
How does Bluesky compare to X, the social media platform formerly called Twitter? Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Luke Hurst
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Bluesky is the new social network backed by one of the founders of Twitter - but is it a viable alternative to X?

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Since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, many users have been hoping for a viable alternative, after the self-declared “free speech absolutist” made sweeping changes to the platform.

This included letting anyone pay a monthly fee for verified status without an identity check, letting previously banned users back onto the platform, and rebranding the whole company to X.

There hasn't been a shortage of candidates for wantaway users to pick from, with the likes of Mastodon, Substack and Tribel all trying to fit the mould.

Facebook’s parent company Meta even released its own competitor to Twitter, with millions of people signing up to its Threads app within days, an app which looks and functions remarkably similarly to X (formerly Twitter).

While it’s still early days, none have shown they are its natural successor.

One app that many are pinning their hopes on is Bluesky, which is backed by one of Twitter’s founders and former CEOs Jack Dorsey.

Despite the huge demand for access to it, it’s currently only available for those on a waiting list, who are being let in a few at a time (or via invite codes which some users have).

Euronews Next finally got access - so here’s everything you need to know about Bluesky.

A Twitter clone?

Just like Threads, Bluesky is extremely similar to X in its form and function. You set up a profile with a round profile picture, a banner image, a bio and a screen name, and then you can “post,” repost your own or others’ “posts,” like them, or reply to them. You can post images, and, of course, you can follow other accounts and they can follow you.

So, on the surface it’s the same as X but with fewer features. There’s currently no direct messaging other users (DMs), you can’t post videos or gifs, and there’s no bookmarking functionality.

One of the key drawbacks at the moment of Bluesky is that there aren’t that many users on it, meaning if you’re used to having a big following on your social media accounts, that’s probably not going to happen straight away.

There has been a waiting list in place since it launched, and only a trickle of new users are invited to create an account at a given time.

On the flipside, it means lots of accounts are active and will provide replies to new users who don’t have any followers.

Within minutes of Euronews Next’s journalist posting his first “post,” a number of users chimed to answer his question about whether hashtags work on the app (they don’t).

Two users also pointed out that posts are “called skeets here” - a blend of “sky” and “tweets”. Skeet also has another slang meaning, and Bluesky’s CEO Jay Graber pleaded back in April for users not to let the term stick.

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It appears the term has stuck for now, however.

Bluesky
A post from CEO Jay GraberBluesky

‘Open and decentralised public conversation’

While Bluesky currently looks and feels like a Twitter clone, the company’s stated mission is to “develop and drive large-scale adoption of technologies for open and decentralised public conversation”.

One Bluesky employee, Rose Wang, explained in a recent blog post that the platform wants to give people control over their own online identities by allowing them to link their profiles and their content across different platforms.

Currently, because of the original web protocol social media platforms are built on, users have “fragmented” digital lives, with multiple accounts on multiple platforms. If you want to set up an account on another platform, your followers and data on a rival platform don’t get transferred across.

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“If you move from one site to another, you have to start over with no history of the friends or content you created there,” she wrote. If you’re kicked off a centralised social platform, it’s like being kicked out of a city and not being able to go back and see your friends, or even pick up your belongings.

“An analogy for what Bluesky is building is an identity and transport system between cities, so you can move from one place to another and keep your friends,” she said.

The idea is that users will be able to take their data with them wherever they go, developers won’t get locked out of the ecosystems they build on top of the platforms, and creators will always keep their relationship with their audience.

Bluesky wants to achieve this with a “federated social protocol”. A protocol is a set of instructions for how data can move between different servers. With this new type of protocol, users should be able to move between platforms, keeping their data and connections - so for example you could post and interact on Mastodon with your Bluesky identity.

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“In the future, we hope to see many new and different kinds of cities (i.e. other social apps like dating apps or video feeds) get built by users and developers, as well as the bridges and tunnels that connect these cities,” explained Wang.

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