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Bluesky opens the floodgates, ends invite-only system

The big picture: With its core infrastructure now set for primetime after extensive development, Bluesky Social could finally garner the awareness it deserves. The platform, supported by Jack Dorsey and an expanding community of decentralization proponents, presents a compelling open-source vision at a time when dissatisfaction with major centralized social apps is on the rise.

Bluesky Social, the open-source and decentralized alternative to X (formerly Twitter), has officially transitioned from its closed beta period and is now open for signups to the general public. With over three million users already onboarded during the private beta phase, the platform is poised for a potentially massive influx of new users.

This public launch represents a significant milestone for the platform, which originated as an experimental project within Twitter under the guidance of Jack Dorsey. Since becoming an independent company, Bluesky has diligently worked on creating an alternative social network focused on providing users with more control through decentralization and transparency.

At first glance, its app appears very similar to X, featuring a chronological feed of posts playfully referred to as “skeets” by early adopters. However, beneath the surface, Bluesky is built on the AT Protocol, an open-source standard that will soon enable independent developers and groups to create their own interconnected instances of the platform.

CEO Jay Graber has articulated their vision as an “open, decentralized protocol,” similar to email, allowing users on different services like Gmail and Outlook to freely communicate across providers. This approach stands in contrast to closed, centralized social networks such as Facebook and Twitter that exert control over all aspects of their platforms.

While still considerably smaller than mainstream competitors, Bluesky has already carved out a niche as a gathering place for X users yearning for a return to the quirky culture reminiscent of early Twitter. Despite lacking some features, such as direct messaging, its growth hasn’t been hindered so far. For comparison, Meta’s Threads also lacks direct messaging.

Bluesky’s public debut aligns with a shifting landscape of X alternatives. Threads, boasting over 130 million active users according to Meta, has expanded into the broader Mastodon ecosystem by making some posts available on the platform, aiming to eventually integrate into the fediverse.

In addition to discarding the waitlist, Bluesky has unveiled plans to invite external developers to host experimental servers that interconnect with its main network – a crucial step towards the broader vision of a user-controlled federated network. The company also intends to empower users and organizations to create moderation tools and filters that individuals can choose to implement for their feeds.

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