I tried Bluesky Social and it's basically a far friendlier Twitter (for now)

Here's how you can try the latest -- and maybe greatest -- Twitter alternative contender, too.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Bluesky social media app
Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After Elon Musk took over Twitter, people began leaving Twitter for other social networks. Unfortunately, even as Twitter has grown less reliable -- on May 2nd, desktop users were kicked off and couldn't log back into it -- no real replacement has arisen. But, maybe, Bluesky Social, a social media platform backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, might do the trick. 

Also: How to get on the Bluesky Social waitlist

For now, while the Bluesky app has been downloaded over 375,000 times, the actual membership is almost an order of magnitude smaller. Today, there are approximately 40,000 beta members, including yours truly.

BlueSky Social Beta

I can quickly summarize Bluesky as Twitter without the crap. 

It looks like it, and in many ways, it acts like Twitter. Bluesky has a maximum post length of 300 characters and features to like, reply, and repost messages. It also includes a "What's Hot" feed for trending posts and a "Following" feed for accounts you follow. However, as the platform is still under development, it currently lacks direct messaging capabilities and the ability to post GIFs and videos. It also, oddly enough, doesn't support hashtags at this early stage.

Also: The best Twitter alternatives

Bluesky, for now, is also far friendlier than Twitter. Of course, that's because there are only a relative handful of people on it today. As Mike Masnick, the editor of the Techdirt, skeeted (a portmanteau of "tweet" and "sky"), "just a bit of a warning from a jaded old internet guy: many of the exciting things people are highlighting are simply because it's new and small. Those things will change with time. Keeping a good community takes work."

So far, though, so good.   

Also: 48% of people under 42 spend more time socializing online than off

Bluesky was created within Twitter in 2021 and launched as an independent public benefit limited liability company in 2022. Bluesky operates on a new open social networking protocol, AT Protocol. It's designed to support a decentralized social network the way  Mastodon already does with ActivityPub.

The AT Protocol will also eventually enable you, again as Mastodon already supports, to set up your own AT-based server. You'll also be able to decide what you see by controlling your traffic with algorithms, where you make the call, not some company. You will also be able to change hosts without losing your content, your followers, or your identity.

Also: Ditching Twitter? Here's how to get started on Mastodon

This is all a work in progress. Most of these features aren't really there yet. For example, even the simple ability to block users has only been implemented in the last few days. However, you can use the settings to control what content you want to see. So, for instance, you can block  "explicit sexual images," "political hate groups," or "violent/bloody content." That's not to say anything goes. It doesn't. Bluesky takes a "first pass" at removing illegal content. Content moderation, eventually, will be largely under the control of users

So, although it's still early days, Bluesky's popularity is skyrocketing. The platform experienced its largest single-day user increase on April 27th, when it almost doubled in users.

Also: Meta is developing a decentralized Twitter alternative: What we know

However, joining Bluesky isn't easy. It currently operates on an invitation-only basis. You must either join a waitlist or receive an invite from an existing member. And, even existing members, for now, only get one invite for every two weeks they've been on the service. 

Some people you might know who are already on Bluesky include New York Congressperson, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez; author and TV personality Chrissy Teigen; comedian Paul "Dril" Dochney; other internet influencers; and well-known journalists.

Also: How to find your followers and friends on Mastodon

I've been using social networks since the days of Usenet and CompuServe, and I'm active on half-a-dozen modern networks. If Bluesky lives up to its potential, I can see it replacing Twitter. 

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