Twitter has been mired in controversy almost since it came into being, but that seems to have reached new heights during Twitter’s Elon Musk era. Regardless of where you stand on Twitter’s current state, it’s clear that a large number of people are looking for a new home, and the fledgling social media site Bluesky has become one of the top contenders. However, you currently need an invite to access the beta version of the site, and those invites are scarce and becoming a hot item for those who crave access.
But what exactly is Bluesky, who created it, and how can you get your hands on an invite? Here’s an explainer of exactly what you can expect from the new Twitter clone, Bluesky.
What is Bluesky?
Unless you’re really plugged into tech news, you may not have heard the name “Bluesky” until a month ago. Created from parts of Twitter in 2019, it didn’t hire its first employees or become an independent company until 2021. It finally began garnering public attention when it released an iOS app in February 2023. Since then, it’s slowly been picking up traction as a potential Twitter alternative, and with the release of an Android app in April 2023, it’s started getting some real recognition.
But what actually is Bluesky? In short, it’s a new social media network that bears a striking resemblance to Twitter. Follow people, like their posts, and make replies — it’s all very Twitter, all the way down to the app interface. You even send “skeets” instead of tweets — a term that has caught on, despite CEO Jay Gruber’s pleas. But look a little deeper, and more differences can be found.
One of the main differences is how Bluesky is structured. Rather than having a central server where all posts are collated, Bluesky works a little more like another Twitter alternative, Mastodon. Like Mastodon, Bluesky is decentralized — meaning there isn’t a single central server under the control of Bluesky. Instead, there are many separate servers, each with its own moderation principles and curation. While there’s still an official Bluesky Social server that anyone can join, there’s an expectation that users will branch off into their own networks, which Bluesky calls “applications”.
Sound confusing? It isn’t too complex, though a lot can be said for Bluesky keeping this particular element quiet for the moment, as confusion over the server system can be a significant barrier to entry for many Mastodon newbies.
Thankfully, Bluesky makes it easy. If the idea of separate applications and decentralized networks makes your head swim — and you wouldn’t be alone there — then just sign up for Bluesky Social network.
Is Bluesky legit?
Bluesky was co-founded by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, so it’s about as legitimate as you can get. Interestingly, Bluesky seems to be Dorsey’s second stab at getting the Twitter formula right. Dorsey has spoken about his regrets over Twitter, and those regrets center largely around the centralized nature of the platform, and the fact that it eventually ended up as a company at all.
Dorsey sees social media at its most pure with Bluesky. Rather than being run as a company with moderation principles, he wants to put power back into the hands of the people. While Bluesky will operate its own server, there’s an emphasis on user-run servers, taking power away from Bluesky as a company and placing it into the hands of separate moderation teams. Considering Twitter’s troubles over the years with content moderation, this could be a smart move from Dorsey — though there’s been some historical pushback on that theory.
The bottom line is yes, Bluesky is a legitimate social network. However, that only means you should treat it with as much trust as you would normally treat social networks — and that’s a personal decision that’s going to be different for everyone.
Is Bluesky owned by Twitter?
The short answer is “no,” but there’s more to this story than just that. Initially, Bluesky was “spun out” from Twitter in 2019. In business terms, a “spin-out” is when a company moves parts of its assets into a new one before it’s launched and run as a new company in its own right. So while Bluesky may have begun life as part of Twitter, it has since been fully separated from its parent company.
Bluesky shares a lot of other similarities with Twitter. As mentioned, Twitter founder Dorsey is involved in the company, as was previous Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal. But even with those strong links, Bluesky is fully separate from Elon Musk’s Twitter and certainly isn’t owned by Twitter.
Is Bluesky available for Android and iPhone?
Yes, there’s a Bluesky app available right now on both Android and the iPhone. You can find Bluesky on the Google Play Store and Bluesky Social on the Apple App Store.
Remember that you’ll need an invite code to sign up, which is pretty scarce right now. You can go ahead and download the app ahead of time if you’re happy to wait, but keep in mind that Bluesky is still under construction. Word from those on the inside describes a rather basic Twitter clone, with routine features like blocking and direct messaging not having been added. So while Bluesky is very much hot property right now, it’s clear it’s not quite ready for release … yet.
How to get a Bluesky invite
If you want a Bluesky invite, then you’ll have to join the queue — literally. The best way to get into Bluesky is to join the waitlist and wait for an invite to drop into your inbox. To sign up for the waitlist, head to the Bluesky beta website and enter your email address.
There are other ways to get invite codes for the platform, but they’re not going to be as easy as signing up for the waitlist and waiting. People already on the platform sometimes get invite codes they can share with people, and if you have a friend already on the new social network, this could be a good way to get in. Unfortunately, this also means there’s a bustling market for Bluesky invite codes, and some unscrupulous people have taken to charging money for their codes.
We do not recommend spending money to get hold of a Bluesky code. There’s very little stopping somebody from taking your money and not giving you a code or giving you a fake or expired code. It’s a risk, and it’s probably not one that’s worth making for a social media network that will eventually be open to everyone anyway.
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