Source: Bluesky FAQ
What is Bluesky?
Bluesky is building a protocol that can make social networks work more like email, blogs, or phone numbers — the open systems that power the rest of our online lives. The protocol we built, the AT Protocol, is close to completion, and the Bluesky app is a microblogging client built on it to showcase the protocol’s features. The Bluesky app also introduces people to how a social web on the AT Protocol will work.
The goal of the AT Protocol is to allow modern social media to work more like the early days of the web, when anyone could put up a blog or use RSS to subscribe to several blogs. We believe this will unlock a new era of experimentation and innovation in social media. Researchers and communities will have the ability to jump in to help solve the problems social networks currently face, and developers will be able to experiment with many new forms of interaction.
Traditional social networks are often closed platforms with a central authority. There’s a small group of people who control those companies, and they have total control over how users can use the platform and what developers can build. On these platforms, as a user, if you try to leave, you have to start over from scratch without the connections you built there or the content you made. As a developer, if you try to build a new app, you have to overcome network effects to rebuild the social graph from scratch, and if you try to build on the APIs of these companies they can cut you off and kill your company in the blink of an eye. As a creator, you might spend years building an audience only to lose access to it when the platform changes the rules on you.
The AT Protocol changes this.
What is the AT Protocol?
The AT Protocol is an open-source framework for building social apps, meaning people have transparency into how it is built and what is being developed. It creates a standard format for user identity, follows, and data on social apps, allowing apps to interoperate and users to move across them freely. It is a federated network with account portability.
An analogy to explain this: every time you create an account on a social platform, it’s like moving to a new city. You make friends and create posts, which is like filling your house with furniture you made. But on centralized social platforms, if you leave, it’s like leaving all your friends behind with no way to contact them, and leaving your house behind without being able to take anything with you. Leaving a centralized site and starting over from scratch is very hard.
The AT Protocol essentially lets people move between cities. Creating a standard format for identity and data is like giving people a passport, cell phone, and property rights. If you don’t like the city you first moved to, you can relocate and take all your belongings (data) with you. Your friends will still be able to find and stay in touch with you at the same name and number (identity & follow graph).
This feature of “account portability” is one of the most important differences between apps built on the AT Protocol and other sites, but we are also working on algorithmic choice and composable moderation, which you can read more about in the linked blog posts.
What is the corporate structure of Bluesky?
Bluesky, the company, is a Public Benefit LLC. It is owned by Jay Graber and the Bluesky team. Jack Dorsey and Jeremie Miller serve on the board, along with Jay. Find past public statements we have made about Bluesky PBLLC’s governance and structure in our original announcement, other posts on our blog, and on social media.
What is the relationship between Bluesky and Twitter?
Bluesky was initially a project kicked off by Jack Dorsey when he was CEO of Twitter in 2019. Jack chose Jay to lead Bluesky, and Twitter paid Bluesky services income to build an open social protocol for public conversation that it could someday become a client on. Bluesky has been an independent company since its formation in 2021.
In late 2022, Twitter chose to sever the service agreement with Bluesky, and Bluesky agreed. The Bluesky PBLLC has continued to pursue its original founding mission to “develop and drive large-scale adoption of technologies for open and decentralized public conversation.”
How many people are on the app? What is the plan for invites?
We brought a few hundred beta testers onto the app in February, and by the end of April, we reached over 50k users. We plan to grow the invite system at our discretion in a way that preserves our focus on protocol development and creates a network where healthy conversations can happen.
We also want the network to grow organically, so most invites are now given out through existing Bluesky users. New users receive one invite code every two weeks they’re on the app. We periodically monitor the social graph, and if certain users are inviting other trustworthy participants, we give them more invites.
Why use invite codes?
Social networks can be abused by spammers and bad actors who might want to manipulate the public conversation. It’s much easier to limit sign-ups and let them spread through an existing social graph than to try to retroactively clean up rampant network abuse.
Long-term, we view this invite code system as a piece of the open source tooling we’re building to help server admins (people running services) to help curate and moderate their communities.
What is your plan for moderation?
Our approach to moderation is three-fold: automated filtering, manual admin actions, and community labeling. It stacks new approaches to moderation on top of what centralized social sites already do, and exposes the internals of the system for anyone to observe. The open and composable labeling system for moderation we’re creating will allow anyone to define and apply labels to content or accounts, and lets anyone choose to subscribe to these label sets. Labels can be automatically or manually generated, and can be applied by any service or person in the network. For example, an organization like the ACLU could create a “hate-speech” label, and services or users in the network could subscribe to their labels to flag, filter, mute, or ban content. The Bluesky reference app we’re building has custom controls that lets users hide, warn, or show content, and will add more controls over time. Through this approach, we aim to prioritize user safety while giving people more control and transparency over how moderation is done. For more information, read our original blog post on composable moderation.