Social network

X’s (ex-Twitter) competitor is already known: Bluesky Social 🟦

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In recent months, a newcomer to the social networking landscape has been making serious waves: Bluesky Social. Indeed, this ambitious project has been in the pipeline since 2019 within Twitter itself. And its creator is none other than… Jack Dorsey, co-founder of the famous social network before leaving in October 2022.

Bluesky and X: The competitive context

Elon Musk is having a hard time keeping X (formerly Twitter) afloat. The Tesla CEO took the reins of the social network in October 2022, after a veritable internal revolt. Since then, one major shake-up after another has been initiated by the billionaire, and the user experience has deteriorated.

What’s more, certified accounts have lost the precious blue dot if they refuse to pay, the emblematic blue bird has turned into a big black cross, and the media have been widely abused by a wave of censorship. This left the competition with plenty of opportunities, while millions of twittos deserted the platform.

And Bluesky has understood this 😏. The new social network passed the million-user mark in September. This tech magnate had initially planned to make Bluesky a Bluebird customer. But things went sour between the two men when Elon Musk took over Twitter.

Bluesky: What are the reasons for this early success?

Circumstances have propelled Bluesky into the limelight. The question now is whether he has what it takes to stay there.

  • Ideal conditions for emancipation

Bluesky starts out with a few significant advantages: a proven designer and a handsome financial endowment.

In October 2022, after some much-publicized procrastination, Elon Musk finally signed the deal to buy Twitter. This was the moment for Bluesky and its president Jay Graber to become independent, even though the agreements between the two entities were cancelled as soon as Elon Musk took over the reins of the blue bird. And this, despite the $13 million Bluesky had already received. Quite a launch budget! 🚀

And then, the new policies put in place by Twitter’s new boss have left many disgruntled. As a result, the timing is ideal to propose an alternative.

  • An (ultra) selective access policy

For the moment, this alternative is in the form of a beta version. And access is by invitation only.

Indeed, to avoid reproducing Twitter’s problems, Bluesky imposes a waiting list to be authorized to enter. And the queue is long. But as in life, it’s possible to jump the queue by getting a referral. Users can sponsor a member via an entry code. It’s an astonishing process… but it has the merit of generating genuine enthusiasm. Everyone wants the Holy Grail.

  • Decentralized content

It’s quite a revenge that Bluesky is taking on X, or rather that Jack Dorsey is taking on Elon Musk. The decor is tinted the same azure blue, and features similar functionalities. Users can « like » and share their posts.

Let’s talk about features !

On Bluesky, you can perform the following actions:

  • Post messages of up to 300 characters,
  • Add or take a photo (but still no video or GIF!),
  • Reply to other users, like or repost their content,
  • Share a post outside the application,
  • Translate a post, mute a thread or report content.
Bluesky on Mobile

The network looks like this on mobile, with navigation buttons at the bottom of your screen:

  • A general chronological timeline featuring the « skeets » (as Bluesky posts are called) of the users you follow.
  • A search section that lets you find users or skeets.
  • A Feeds tab that suggests and enables you to find and join specific timelines.
  • A Notifications section where you’ll see follows, replies to your tweets, likes, reposts and more.
  • A Profile tab where you’ll see your profile page with its stats, and where you can edit the photos and bio associated with it.

Above the general timeline, three tabs let you navigate between it, a Discover timeline that lets you discover other skeets and users, and a Popular With Friends timeline that includes the most popular posts by people you follow.

  • « Moderation » tab

It lets you manage the accounts you’ve ignored, those you’ve blocked, the mute lists you’ve subscribed to, as well as setting your content filters. Here you can :

  • Confirm your age to access « adult » content,
  • Choose to show or hide « sexually explicit, nudity, suggested sexuality, violent » content,
  • Choose to show, prevent or hide content showing images of terrorist groups, broadcasting articles covering tragic events, interacting excessively (spam), or originating from accounts misleading about the user’s identity.
  • « Settings » tab

This tab lets you manage the application’s appearance and accessibility, as well as preferences for your main timeline, threads (posts and replies), saved feeds, language and moderation settings. This is also where you can change your handle, i.e. the username attached to your @, or delete your account.

  • « Home Feed Preferences » tab

Accessible by clicking on the settings icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen, this settings tab lets you quickly manage your general feed preferences: show or hide replies, set your filter for displayed replies, and show or hide reposts.

Numerous settings are available, including precise control over what content is and isn’t allowed.

Understanding Feeds on Bluesky

This is a particularly interesting feature of Bluesky. Feeds are algorithmic timelines created by other users of the application, which can be pinned.

There are some very classic ones:

  • Home +, which displays the activity of people who follow you,
  • The ‘Gram’, which only shows posts with an image,
  • Newskies, which displays the first skeet of each new user…

Initially, Bluesky « provided six custom feeds for users to subscribe to, but now the vast majority of feeds on the network are created by independent third-party developers, » explains the team.

Feeds are the algorithmic lists, which can be created simply with SkyFeed.

Indeed, it is also possible to create your own feeds. However, this requires some development skills.

What are Bluesky’s limitations and areas for improvement?

Bluesky may have reached the million-user mark, but it’s not yet a finished application. Some basic functionalities are still missing. For the time being, you won’t be able to :

  • Write DMs or private messages,
  • Have a private account,
  • Post GIFs or videos,
  • Create lists (a feature planned for a future update),
  • Pin posts,
  • Draft threads and post them all at once.

With developers currently focused on decentralizing the network, features such as DMs are not yet in the pipeline. Indeed, this possibility will require an encrypted conversion system, similar to that used on WhatsApp or Telegram. Sometimes, third-party developers offer alternatives that allow private messages to be sent, but not in a perfectly secure and confidential way.

Meanwhile, while X has made its former tool known as TweetDeck (now X Pro) chargeable, it is possible on Bluesky to use similar solutions.

So, are you tempted by the Bluesky experience?

Sources: Bluesky, Bluesky, France Info

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