What is Bluesky? Chrissy Teigen and AOC join Twitter alternative

·4-min read
Bluesky app (Bluesky)
Bluesky app (Bluesky)

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky app has been released — and it’s already attracting some big names.

While most people can’t try the fresh social network just yet due to an invite-only waitlist, a number of celebs have skipped to the front of the queue. The app’s notable users include a mix of nerdy Hollywood types, media personalities, and a US politician who is a known Elon Musk critic.

Bluesky’s current crop of VIPs include US Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who boasts more than 13 million Twitter followers; model Chrissy Teigen, who has mocked Musk’s purge of Twitter blue ticks; and Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning director Christopher McQuarrie.

They’re joined by luminaries including The Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright, and Moon director Duncan Jones.

The app’s fledgling user base has even coined a phrase for Bluesky posts: They’ve taken to calling them skeets, which 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 mood on the app; one article describes it as the opposite of professional-networking platform LinkedIn.

How to get a Bluesky invite

The Bluesky app appeared on Apple’s iPhone App Store in February, and an Android version was released in April.

Those who want to try out Bluesky can input their email address at the Bluesky website, to “try the public beta”.

Bluesky CEO Jay Graber has claimed 1.2 million people were on the waiting list after Elon Musk took over Twitter, and that figure is only likely to have climbed since. But, there may be a quicker way to get in.

Existing Bluesky users are being sent invite codes, which let anyone get started on the social network.

Some of these are being given away on Twitter, the very place those keenest to get on Bluesky are fleeing from. A r/blueskyinvites subreddit has been established, and there’s also an invite thread in the r/BlueskySocial subreddit.

One seller is even attempting to offload Bluesky invites on eBay for £155 each. However, we strongly recommend not paying for these invites.

Bluesky’s rollout is quite slow, with the service having reached an estimated 20,000 users in mid-April. But this is in part to generate the hype that comes with scarcity, and to make sure the service’s servers don’t fall over through rapidly increasing demand.

What is Bluesky?

Screenshots on the Bluesky App Store page show an interface very similar to that of Twitter. There are likes, retweet-like “reposts”, and comments on posts. However, the way this social network operates in the background is quite different.

Bluesky is a decentralised social app, meaning it operates off multiple servers run by multiple entities, rather than being controlled by a single company.  It uses a piece of technology called the AT Protocol to store your account data, effectively connecting up these “decentralised” elements.

If you have tried Mastodon, the most talked about of the Twitter alternatives, you have already experienced a decentralised social network.

Is Bluesky a good Twitter alternative?

From a glance, this may look like Dorsey reacting to Musk’s recent handling of Twitter. However, Dorsey announced Bluesky in December 2019, as a way to attempt to tackle issues with social media that existed years ago.

One aim was to give the user more control, including over content recommended to them, while reducing the power of the platform holder.

Bluesky reportedly started off with a team of five people and was spun off into its own independent company in 2022, with Dorsey on its board. It is unclear how involved he is in the day-to-day of Bluesky at this point.

He has described the Bluesky app as being like a “web browser” that lets you explore the AT Protocol network. Here’s where we bump into an issue that turned some off Twitter alternative Mastodon.

It asks you to join a specific server, making the process seem less simple and more like a geekier online community such as Reddit. At present, it’s unclear how friendly Bluesky will seem to a less techy crowd, although the screenshots are at least promising.