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What is Bluesky?

Recently, Twitter celebs Dril and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have joined a new invite-only Twitter alternative, causing a surge in interest and users. Bluesky, a Twitter clone backed by Jack Dorsey, has a very similar format to its established rival and has been available on Apple’s app store since February, but only recently added an Android and beta web version.

According to Data.ai research cited by Bloomberg, the app has been downloaded over 240,000 times, with half of these installs in April alone. Bluesky CEO Jay Graber announced that 1.2 million people were on the platform’s waitlist following Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. Musk’s ex-girlfriend, Grimes, also seems to have joined the platform, although the profile couldn’t be independently verified by Insider.

To create a profile, Bluesky users choose a picture, bio, display name, and domain name. They can then post, repost, like, and reply to other users. The platform has a search tab to find other users, and it suggests people to follow who are “in your network.” Bluesky’s timeline is split into two feeds – posts from users an account is following, and a “What’s Hot” section that displays popular posts. However, unlike most alternatives, the app doesn’t have any direct messaging features or hashtags.

One of the missing functions is the ability to block other users or set profiles to private, which can lead to harassment. On Thursday, Graber acknowledged the problem and said that the team was working on a block function, delayed because of “protocol-level complexity.”

Currently, the app is still in beta and only available to users with an invite or on the waiting list. The invite codes are usually given out once every two weeks, although the Bluesky team has said they would occasionally “arbitrarily” hand out extra invite codes to activate more users.

Bluesky is a decentralized platform, meaning user data is not stored on servers owned by one company. It has been compared to Mastodon, an earlier Twitter alternative. However, unlike Mastodon, Bluesky users don’t have to choose a server when they sign up, which was a hurdle for many Mastodon users who found the process too complicated.

Bluesky started in 2019 when Dorsey was still CEO of Twitter and initially received funding from the company it now rivals. In April last year, Bluesky clarified its relationship with Twitter, stating that “the bluesky project originated with Twitter in 2019, but the Bluesky PBLLC established this year is an independent company focused on decentralized social network R&D.”