Last year, Bluesky, which attracted attention with its decentralized structure and was seen as an alternative to Twitter, became a major focus of attention in the social media world. The application, which reached more than two million users during the closed beta period, also frequently took its place on the social media agenda. However, recent discussions about the future of social media platforms have focused on ActivityPub, the decentralized protocol that powers a number of services including Mastodon and Meta’s Threads.
Even as ActivityPub grows in popularity, Bluesky is ready to make a comeback. As of this week, the application is removing the invitation system and opening its doors to anyone who wants to register. By the end of the month, it plans to allow external developers who want to host their own servers on the AT Protocol. The aim is for Bluesky users to be able to participate in experiences that are not managed by the company and move their profiles to competing applications on the network.
Bluesky’s innovative steps
In an interview with The Verge, CEO Jay Graber stated that they needed to improve moderation features and stabilize the app’s infrastructure before leaving closed beta and making it available to the general public. Graber said the app has received more than 3 million sign-ups and many more downloads since its launch a year ago. It is hoped that by removing the invitation requirement, these people will become active users and Bluesky can play a role as a conversational platform for a more general audience.
Bluesky was founded as a public interest business, and about half of its full-time employees work on moderation and user support. Graber notes that the Bluesky app has 1.6 million monthly users and 25,000 custom streams for people to choose from. These private streams are a unique feature powered by the AT Protocol and demonstrate Bluesky’s originality. Graber says he just followed a feed that showed pictures of algae.
When Bluesky opens the AT Protocol to third-party developers in the coming weeks, it will theoretically be possible to create a server with its own rules. Graber states that this is an “experimental launch” and will be a gradual transition. “We’re thinking about slowing things down, putting limitations in place to prevent the network from completely changing overnight,” he says.
Even though AT Protocol will open soon, the Bluesky company plans to make money through various means, such as charging users for additional features in its app. It also aims to capture a share of purchases, such as custom streams, that developers can charge for. Graber adds that a Cloudflare-like enterprise arm is in the works to help others who want to easily manage their own servers over the AT Protocol.
Bluesky currently controls the AT Protocol, and Graber recognizes that if the protocol is to be used by many other companies over time, its control will need to be handed over to a web standards organization, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force. When asked if they plan to integrate with ActivityPub in some way, he states that it is not on the roadmap, but the company is not against the idea.
“This is a time to experiment,” Graber said. says. ActivityPub seems to have caught the zeitgeist right now, with companies like Meta embracing decentralization that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Bluesky still thinks it can gain a good foothold on this platform, which increasingly looks like the next phase of social networks.