Twitter alternative Bluesky is kicking off its first paid service, one that will help people set up their own domain name to use on the platform. In a blog post published Wednesday, the Bluesky Team described the new service as one that will allow for easier domain purchasing and management through a partnership with domain registrar Namecheap.
Bluesky users have already been able to set up custom domains and use them as their handles via the company's AT Protocol. But that demands some knowledge of domain registrars and DNS settings.
To simplify the process and generate some income, Bluesky's new paid domain setup still taps into the AT Protocol but can be accomplished in under a few minutes, according to the blog post. The company touted Namecheap for its reputation for preventing unauthorized domain transfers and protecting domain names.
Already, more than 13,000 Bluesky users have either recycled existing domains that they own or bought new ones to use on the platform, the company said. The appeal here is that people can customize and verify their identities on Bluesky and tie them into existing websites. As one example cited in the blog post, US senators use the domain senate.gov on Bluesky to verify their identities. A web extension designed by a third-party developer ensures that the websites are linked to an AT Protocol identity.
Creating a custom domain name with Bluesky offers a few benefits. You can search for and purchase your domain directly in the Bluesky app, allowing you to then apply it as your username. To try to protect your privacy, Bluesky doesn't register your personal details with the WHOIS directory, a publicly searchable database. You can forward any emails sent to your domain address and redirect your domain to your Bluesky profile or another URL. Further, you're able to manage your domain settings within Bluesky.
The new service is also a way for Bluesky to remain ad-free. Social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter have depended largely on advertising to pay the bills and fund their operations without charging users directly. But ad-driven platforms often trigger privacy concerns among people who are subjected to targeted advertising. To avoid that pitfall, Bluesky is aiming to offer paid services to generate income without relying on ads.
"Traditionally, social media companies have supported business costs through advertising," the Bluesky Team said. "While advertising can subsidize services to make them free to the end user, it comes with negative long-term consequences like incentivizing platforms to lock their users in. In the business of advertising, where social media companies exchange user data to serve ads to specific audiences, users become the product."
Backed by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, Bluesky has been the recipient of a surge in signups lately. At the same time, Twitter owner Elon Musk continues to devise new policies and restrictions that seem to tick off users. Over the weekend, Musk announced that both verified and unverified accounts would be limited to a certain number of tweets read per day.
Due to the flood of new users and the accompanying increase in traffic, Bluesky had to temporarily halt new signups. But people are now able to sign up once again, as long as they have one of those valuable Bluesky invites.