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The experiments, it must be said, are over. One year after its invitation-only launch, which led several million users to download and use the app, Bluesky opens its doors to everyone. And for those who wanted and financed this platform, Jack Dorsey, the former CEO and co-founder of Twitter, enters the heart of the long-distance challenge with Elon Musk. Having completed the “limited beta” phase which involved registration to the service via a waiting list, the new social network is now accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world, and throws down a symbolic gauntlet to a competition that obviously calls Mark Zuckerberg and his creatures, Facebook and above all Threads, are also at the game.
What it is, how it works and why it is different from others
Bluesky is a microblogging platform that uses a decentralized open source protocol (AT, an acronym which stands for Authenticated Transfer) and is available for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems and the Web. Its announcement, in February 2023, made a big difference speak for a coincidence that is certainly not random, as it is a project started in 2019, when Dorsey was still the CEO of Twitter. From a functional point of view, the differences with the blue bird’s social network are in fact minimal: users have the possibility of creating short posts including photos, sharing, muting and blocking accounts and, nevertheless, following other people and viewing their updates in the Home Feed. Furthermore, in the app there is a tab that offers useful suggestions on “who to follow” and a system to view the most recent updates of the people you are interested in, based on the content they publish rather than on the name of their account. What changes, compared to other social networks, is the absence of a centralized control body, while a strong point is the presence of a team of full-time moderators who verify compliance with the community rules. Furthermore, among the options made available by the service to subscribers, the possibility of creating personalized discussion rooms and managing the flow of posts on the bulletin board as desired (by default the chronological order of the contents is set, without intrusions of advertising posts or sponsored). Finally, for the moment, Bluesky does not offer a private messaging function between users like rival microblogging platforms.
The business model
However, Dorsey’s bet has found room to grow in these twelve months, proving to be a “valuable” alternative to the many users disappointed by Twitter. It is difficult to predict Bluesky’s further development curve compared to the current three million registered users (the number was made official by CEO Jay Graber) but it is clear that the race of the new social network will be made on of content moderation have often sparked criticism and complaints) and on Threads, whose popularity (according to statistics collected by the specialized site Similarweb) seems to be losing steam significantly, with an average number of users standing at 10 million, down nearly 80% since launching last July. At the moment, as The Verge writes, the platform employs just under 40 full-time employees, of which around half are involved in moderation and user support, while the app boasts 1.6 million monthly users and 25 thousand personalized feeds . The next move, after the public opening of the service, will be the gradual activation of the AT protocol (now effectively controlled by Bluesky but in the process of being “handed over” to a Web standardization body such as the Internet Engineering Task Force) for third-party developers, which will theoretically allow anyone to create a server with their own rules. An experiment, Graber framed it this way, “to make sure that the network doesn’t change from one day to the next”. In short, Bluesky is betting its chances on being a more open, free and decentralized alternative to Musk and Meta’s social media, focusing on its nature as a conversation platform aimed at a general public and on a business model which includes multiple income items, from “fees” to access additional functions of the application to the percentage on the sale of personalized feeds.