The wait is over. Bluesky, the long-anticipated Twitter alternative, is here.
CEO & Founder
The wait is over. Bluesky, the long-anticipated Twitter alternative, is here. The brainchild of Twitter’s former CEO and co-founder, Jack Dorsey, Bluesky was originally a side project kicked off by Dorsey in 2019 while he was still at Twitter, which then became fully divorced from it once Elon Musk took over in 2022.
That could turn out to be a big mistake as Bluesky has been capturing widespread interest following its launch in private beta in March. Early users claim it’s the antithesis of the often toxic and chaotic experience of Twitter under the stewardship of new CEO and owner Elon Musk.
Whether you’re new to Bluesky, which had just 50,000 users at the end of April 2023, or you’re still waiting for an invite to get in, we’ve taken a closer look at why access to the network is in high demand, and how you can get the most out of it if you’re one of the chosen few.
What is Bluesky?
Bluesky is a social network that feels like a stripped down version of Twitter, and this could be the reason for such high levels of early interest in the platform. Simply put: large numbers of Twitter users have been searching for an alternative, and Bluesky certainly is that.
If you imagine Twitter in its entirety – minus ads, video, spam, trolls and audio – then you have Bluesky. It’s a mobile app at the moment so there’s no desktop version, but functionality-wise it works almost identically to how Twitter does. You have a Twitter-esque profile that you can customise, you publish posts (known as ‘skeets’ - Sky/tweets) with a limit of 300 characters, and you can attach up to four images. Then, to fill your timeline, you follow others – which, at the moment, means regular people, a few famous people, and some news media and brands.
How to get into Bluesky (it's invite-only)
First, you’ll need to download the app from whichever app store you use. You can do this without an invite.
However, to set up an account requires an invite code – and access is currently being limited so the network doesn’t become flooded with users while it’s still being built. To get an invite code, head to the Bluesky website where there’s a waitlist to request one, or ask around in case anyone you know has one spare. These codes are hot property and are even being sold on eBay, but if you’re patient and ask around, it shouldn’t be too long before you’re in.
How does it work?
Once you’re in, you need to set up your profile. There’s the usual bio to write, profile pic and background image to choose – just like Twitter and other platforms.
You’ll also need to choose a handle, or username, but this bit is more like Mastodon than Twitter as usernames are triple-barrelled by default, and consist of your chosen handle alongside a URL. For example, I chose the handle ‘@drewb’, but on Bluesky this displays as ‘@drewb.bsky.social’. The ‘.bsky.social’ part of the username is default for all new users, but can be customised for branding or verification purposes. You can easily do this yourself by following Bluesky’s guide. This is Bluesky’s approach to verification – an interesting pivot from the blue tick route that other networks operate, instead giving users the power to verify themselves through their own URL.
Then it’s time to start following some accounts, which you can look for in the ‘Search’ tab. Once you’ve added some interesting connections, your ‘Home’ tab will show a timeline of posts from the accounts you follow in chronological order, rather than being algorithmically mixed like on other networks.
At the top of your ‘Home’ tab, you can switch from the classic view of your connections’ posts which is called ‘Following’, to ‘What’s hot’ – a selection of posts on Bluesky that are receiving lots of engagement, again in chronological order.
Regularly adding new connections means your experience on the platform will be better, because with Bluesky being so new and the user base so small, you’ll need to find friends or interesting accounts in order to make the experience you want to have on the network.
Getting started: some accounts to follow
Whether you’re looking for someone high-profile, a news channel, sports club, journalist or politician, there are plenty of recognisable users that are already on Bluesky. Here are the handles of some Bluesky accounts that you might find interesting to follow.
Business, politics, tech, celebrity & entertainment
- @jay.bsky.team Jay Graber, CEO of Bluesky
- @support.bsky.team the official Bluesky support channel
- @aoc.sky.social AOC, aka US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes
- @chrissyteigen.bsky.social Chrissy Teigen, TV personality
- @jimmykimmel.bsky.social Jimmy Kimmel, TV host
- @anildash.com Anil Dash, tech entrepreneur
- @dril.bsky.social Dril, writer and comedian
- @dallasmavs.bsky.social Dallas Mavericks basketball
- @jack.bsky.social Jack Dorsey, former Twitter CEO and co-founder, and generally recognised as co-founder / inventor and board member of Bluesky
- @mcuban.bsky.social Mark Cuban
- @para.ga Parag Agrawal, former CEO of Twitter and, while there, manager of Bluesky as a project when it was being built
- @grimes.bsky.social Grimes, musician and Elon Musk’s ex
- @washingtonpost.com The Washington Post
- @bloombergnews.bsky.social Bloomberg
- @techcrunch.bsky.social TechCrunch
- @opinion.bsky.social Bloomberg Opinion
- @theintercept.com The Intercept
- @theonion.com The Onion
- @techmeme.com Techmeme
- @zsk.bsky.social Zoe Kleinman, tech editor, The BBC
- @timbradshaw.bsky.social Tim Bradshaw, global tech correspondent, Financial Times
- @mshannahmurphy.bsky.social Hannah Murphy, tech and social media reporter, Financial Times
- @taylorlorenz.bsky.social Taylor Lorenz, tech columnist, Washington Post
- @drewharwell.com tech reporter, Washington Post
- @genepark.bsky.social Gene Park, games reporter, Washington Post
- @oremus.bsky.social Will Oremus, tech writer, Washington Post
- @davelee.bsky.social Dave Lee, US tech columnist, Bloomberg Opinion
- @davey.bsky.social Davey Alba, tech reporter, Bloomberg
- @jamestitcomb.bsky.social James Titcomb, tech editor, The Telegraph
- @ebakerwhite.bsky.social Emily Baker-White, tech journalist, Forbes
- @paris.nyc Paris Martineau, tech reporter, The Information
- @mikebutcher.bsky.social Mike Butcher, editor-at-large, TechCrunch
- @sarahp.bsky.social Sarah Perez, reporter, TechCrunch
- @caseynewton.bsky.social Casey Newton, Platformer
- @emilybell.bsky.social Emily Bell, writer and academic, former editor of The Guardian
- @battenhall.com Battenhall
- @drew.bsky.social Drew Benvie (me)
- @nica.bsky.social Nicole Mezzasalma
- @marks.bsky.social Mark Stuart
- @thomasfalconer.bsky.social Thomas Falconer
- @rmathew.bsky.social Rhea Mathew
- @abdxl.bsky.social Abdul Abubakar
- @kaylasnyder.bsky.social Kayla Snyder
- @sjam.bsky.social Sam Mead
- @anthonylwolf.bsky.social Antonino Lupo
What's next for Bluesky?
As the Bluesky community grows, it will be stretched in every direction that other social networks are.
There will (inevitably) be more accounts to follow that will make the whole user experience more relevant and interesting, but this in turn means more irrelevant and harmful content will pop up too – an unfortunate side effect of all social networks as they begin to grow.
To ensure a healthy balance, Bluesky will need to work hard to cultivate an ecosystem, while also giving users the customer service and protection they have come to struggle with on many other social platforms – Twitter being the highest profile example of this.
One thing is for certain: demand for access to Bluesky is outstripping supply of invites, so there is growth ahead, and with that growth we’ll definitely see the best and worst of the social media landscape emerge.
Keeping social media safe and balanced will no doubt be right up at the top of the to-do list for team Bluesky. We recommend getting in there while you still can.
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