Bluesky snags more than 800,000 new users after opening to the public

A day after shedding its invite-only requirement, the X alternative saw its user count jump by 856,000 from just 62,000 a couple of days earlier.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Bluesky app open on iPhone
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Bluesky's decision to open its social network to the public triggered a flood of new people eager to join. Based on stats released by a Bluesky account as spotted by TechCrunch, the number of new users skyrocketed to 856,000 on Feb. 7, the day after the platform removed its invite-only sign-up process. That number was a healthy increase from the 200,000 new users recorded the prior day and the 62,000 to 64,000 users seen each previous day.

The surge bumped up the total number of Bluesky users to more than 4 million, up from the 3 million seen earlier in the week, and the 2 million that the Bluesky team reported last November. Yes, the total user count has more than doubled in just three months, with much of that seen just over the past two days.

Also: 5 reasons to try Twitter rival Bluesky

The number of new users also jumped during technical troubles with Bluesky. On Wednesday, a member of the Bluesky team acknowledged intermittent feed outages that affected the platform's performance. Though the influx of people likely contributed to the snafu, Bluesky developer Paul Frazee blamed the problem on a bit of technobabble that sounded like it came from a Starfleet engineer.

"When there's a large increase in database usage, the system enters a multi-polar tachyon flow which overloads the power couplings, which we all just experienced," Frazee said. 

Kicked off about a year ago and initially for iPhone users, Bluesky has been one of several social networks designed to offer people an alternative to X without the baggage that Musk brings to the table. Over the past year, Meta's Threads has been one platform trying to gain a foothold. Bluesky's user numbers are still quite small compared with Threads at more than 130 million and X at 556 million.

Also: Bluesky vs. Threads vs. Mastodon: If you leave Twitter, where will you go?

But in contrast to Meta and X, Bluesky is a decentralized network in which users control their own data. They can use their own domains and create their own custom feeds. This also means you don't have to share your data with larger companies, like Meta or X.

Available as a closed, invite-only beta, Bluesky attracted interest from people curious to join. But since the invites were in short supply (with some selling on eBay for $300 a pop), the user count remained relatively flat. However, the extended beta period gave Bluesky the time it needed to improve and enhance the platform. And there's more ahead.

"Over the past year, we've been giving ourselves space to make sure that things like the underlying infrastructure and moderation capacities are built up. Now, we're just about ready," Bluesky CEO Jay Graber told Business Insider. "Later this month, we're opening up Federation and opening up third-party labeling, allowing people to run moderation services. So those are some of the things that took some more time."

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