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Arts & Entertainment Editor: Kamryn Kobel
You may have heard of BlueSky, a new contender in the social media scene. But what is BlueSky? How does it work, and what other apps compare? And most importantly, should you get it?
The site launched in October of 2021.
Their FAQ page states BlueSky was designed to “[build] a protocol for public conversation that can make social networks work more like email, blogs, or phone numbers — the open systems that power the rest of our online lives.”
According to Dorsey, the original goal of BlueSky was “to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media.”
For Dorsey, BlueSky being “decentralized” improves where Twitter (X) fails: by enforcing a more democratic moderation system, moving away from algorithms that compete for users’ attention, and centralizing “conversation which informs and promotes health” rather than “controversy and outrage.”
Dorsey wants BlueSky to be “inclusive of companies & organizations, researchers, civil society leaders, all who are thinking deeply about the consequences, positive and negative.”
The layout is similar to Twitter (X). Posts can be replied to, liked, reposted, and quoted. The navigation bar includes the home feed, the search page, notifications, the user’s profile, and a unique “feeds” feature.
On the Feeds page, users can discover and subscribe to different Feeds, which categorize posts and help organize communities and discussions. Examples of Feeds include What’s Science, Women in Stem, BlackSky, Disability, GameDev, Cat Pics, and many more.
Some Feeds are open to all users, where you only have to include a specific hashtag or emoji for your post to be contained within them.
For example, the Feed “Birds!” is a community for sharing pictures and information about birds. Users must include either #birds or any bird emoji in their post to be categorized and included within the Feed’s timeline.
However, some Feeds require users to be accepted as registered contributors by the creators/moderators before they can post on them. This creates a semi-private community, with the users controlling who is allowed to post and what kinds of posts are allowed. Anyone can view the feeds, even if they cannot post within them.
Once a user follows a feed, it becomes pinned at the top of their Feeds page, where it can be easily accessed.
Another unique feature of Feeds is that they help categorize the user’s own posts, too. Some feeds include Your Media, Mentions, Your Likes, and OnlyPosts, which only includes “posts from people you follow without reposts or replies,” as stated in its description.
You can even organize your Feeds page, personalizing which feeds appear and in what order you want them to appear.
Feeds do not appear on the Following page because only individual accounts users follow appear there. BlueSky includes an experimental feature that allows Feeds to show up on the Following page, so the development could be made a permanent feature soon as more people sign up for the site.
BlueSky is surprisingly welcoming towards NSFW and 18+ content, as there are multiple Feeds under these categories.
To join BlueSky, you need an invite code. By requiring a code, the developers hope to prevent an influx of bots and spam accounts. You can join the waitlist by clicking “Create a New Account” or by getting a code from an existing user.
On September 12th, BlueSky reached 1 million users – reaching this milestone in just under two years.
Since Twitter was bought by Elon Musk and rebranded as X, web developers have been clamoring to create the next big social media.
As of September 2023, Threads has 132 million users, and Mastodon has 8 million. Threads and Mastodon have been Twitter’s greatest competitors so far, but neither has seemed to stick into popular culture the same way that Twitter (X) has.
The question remains: Will BlueSky have the longevity needed to replace Twitter? Or will it fall into oblivion like the rest?
Whatever happens, be sure to follow The Torch on BlueSky at @umassdtorch.bsky.social!