For about a year now, Bluesky has been making it exceptionally difficult for new users to join.
Like a fancy VIP party, the Twitter alternative was only accessible to those with an invite code. You can get one by joining a waiting list, but who has the patience for that? While begging Bluesky members for a pass just seemed a bit desperate.
Fortunately, that has all changed: the velvet rope is gone and everyone can enter. Bluesky just announced that new users no longer need an invitation to join. Instead, you can sign up as you would on any other form of social media.
Just go to the website or download the app, enter your email address and a few other details, and voila, you’re in.
Whether you’re escaping Elon Musk’s Twitter or just want to give it a try, now’s the best time to get involved.
Unfortunately, you could argue that Bluesky missed the boat by restricting access to the platform for so long. Yes, Twitter is still as problematic as ever under Musk, but the noise surrounding it has subsided in recent months. Meanwhile, Facebook owner Meta has taken some of Bluesky’s shine off with the launch of Threads. The social platform amassed 100 million users in record time, proving there was room for a true Twitter rival.
Nevertheless, if you’re still eager to get a taste of what Bluesky has to offer, this guide should help you get the hang of it. Although it looks like Twitter, it has its quirks that take some getting used to.
So what is Bluesky? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Bluesky?
Bluesky appeared on Apple’s iPhone App Store in February 2023, and an Android version was released in April.
Until now, the only way to access the platform was by joining a waitlist or receiving an invite from someone who had already signed up.
In terms of design, screenshots on the Bluesky App Store page show an interface very similar to Twitter’s. There are likes, retweet-like “reposts” and comments on posts.
The app’s fledgling user base has even coined a term for Bluesky posts: skeets. This is a combination of the words “tweet” and “sky”. It also has a very NSFW meaning that we won’t share here.
The phrase is emblematic of the irreverent vibe on the app; one article describes it as the opposite of the professional networking platform LinkedIn.
However, the way the network functions in the background is quite different from its rivals.
Bluesky is a decentralized social app, meaning it runs on multiple servers managed by multiple entities, rather than being managed by a single company. It uses a piece of technology called the AT protocol to store your account information, effectively connecting these “decentralized” elements together.
If you’ve tried Mastodon, another Twitter alternative, you’ve already experienced a decentralized social network.
Who’s on Bluesky?
After launching, the platform quickly attracted the attention of a number of troubled celebrities who were annoyed by Musk’s divisive management of Twitter.
The current crop of celebrities includes US Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has more than 13 million Twitter followers; model Chrissy Teigen, who has mocked Musk’s removal of Twitter blue ticks; and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning director Christopher McQuarrie.
They are joined by The Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright and Moon director Duncan Jones.
Why did Bluesky use invitations?
Bluesky CEO Jay Graber previously claimed that 1.2 million people were on the waiting list after Musk acquired Twitter.
At its height, invites were given out on Twitter, the very place those who most want to use Bluesky flee from. An r/blueskyinvites subreddit was also created, and there was an invite thread in the r/BlueskySocial subreddit.
One seller even tried to list Bluesky invitations on eBay for £155 each before his listing was removed.
Bluesky’s rollout has been slow; the service reached an estimated 20,000 users in April last year. But this is partly to generate the hype that comes with scarcity, and to ensure that the service’s servers don’t collapse due to rapidly increasing demand.
Is Bluesky a good Twitter alternative?
At a glance, this looks like former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is responding to Musk’s handling of Twitter. However, Dorsey announced Bluesky in December 2019, in an effort to address social media issues that existed years ago.
One goal was to give the user more control, including over the content recommended to them, while reducing the power of the platform holder.
Bluesky reportedly started with a team of five people and was spun off into its own independent company in 2022, with Dorsey on the board. It is unclear how involved he is in the day-to-day management of the company.
He has described the Bluesky app as a “web browser” that allows you to explore the AT Protocol network. Here we find the problem that caused some Twitter alternatives to disable Mastodon.
You’ll be asked to join a specific server, which makes the process seem less simple and more like a geekier online community like Reddit. At this point it’s unclear how friendly Bluesky will appear to less technical audiences, although the screenshots are at least promising.
Last July, Bluesky came under fire for temporarily allowing users to register accounts that contained racist comments.
Bluesky previously banned an offending account within 40 minutes of being reported, and the company says that “the code that enabled this was patched the same evening.”
Numerous racist, ableist and transphobic slurs were also removed from the list of flagged words in a controversial July update.
It comes amid broader concerns about racism and moderation on the platform.
“You have an incredibly serious anti-Blackness problem on your platform,” Scott Hirleman, host of the Data Mesh Radio podcast, wrote in a LinkedIn post addressing Bluesky’s executive team. “If you don’t want to run a social media platform, split the company in two, focus on the protocol and fund the platform with another team that cares.”
Bluesky’s community guidelines emphasize that it does not allow behavior that “targets people based on their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation.
“Our community guidelines reflect our values: that racism and harassment have no place at Bluesky, and we will continue to take action to uphold these policies,” the official Bluesky account on the platform wrote.