Twitter users, weary from another tumultuous weekend, are exploring Jack Dorsey-backed app Bluesky as a possible alternative to the social media network.
The invite-only Bluesky has been downloaded by iPhone users 245,000 times, of which more than half came this month, according to Data.ai. This year, the app started inviting users from its waiting list — which numbered more than a million people when Elon Musk bought Twitter in October — to test a beta version, although it’s limiting users for now. It recently added an Android app as well.
Musk’s Twitter, which has hundreds of millions of users, removed legacy verification marks on the service en masse before restoring a number of high-profile accounts, causing confusion over the weekend. The billionaire has made verification part of an $8-a-month subscription service, and many of the platform’s most influential users have criticized the fee and accused Twitter of misrepresenting them as paying subscribers.
Users put off by Musk’s seemingly haphazard Twitter decisions have sought a credible alternative for months, including services like Mastodon. Bluesky has a close affinity with Twitter, having been initiated by the bigger network’s co-founder Dorsey in 2019. The younger service aims to provide a more open social protocol and standard that would allow any service to plug in and interact.
The Bluesky app is, in the words of project leader Jay Graber, “a very simple microblogging format to show how Twitter could have been built” on its protocol. It works much like a rudimentary version of Twitter, allowing 300-character posts and replies, the ability to repost and also share photos as well as text. In testing by Bloomberg News, the Android Bluesky app was occasionally slow to load, but it has all the basic features required for communicating with a much quicker and smoother onboarding process than Mastodon.
Bluesky aims for a more open approach, allowing users for instance to use their web domain address as their handle on the service, granting a self-verification option and potentially the freedom to move to a different server or service with the same username.