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31st Oct 2022

Twitter’s founder launches beta for new social media company just as Elon Musk takes over

Steve Hopkins

Thirty thousand people signed up to Bluesky’s waiting list in just two days

Former Twitter boss Jack Dorsey is trialing a beta version of a new social media venture just days after Elon Musk took over his old platform and started making changes.

A week before Musk wandered into Twitter with a kitchen sink and went on to fire top execs, Dorsey, 45, announced that his decentralised social app, Bluesky, was seeking beta testers. Dorsey stepped away from Twitter in November.

“The next step is to start testing the protocol. Distributed protocol development is a tricky process,” the company shared in a news release last week, according to reports.

“It requires coordination from many parties once a network is deployed, so we’re going to start in private beta to iron out issues.

“As we beta test, we’ll continue to iterate on the protocol specs and share details about how it works. When it’s ready, we’ll move to the open beta,” it added, sharing a link to sign up for the beta test’s waitlist.

Now, as people come to terms with Twitter under the ‘Chief Twit’ – with celebrities leaving in droves and plans for a $20 a month charge for a blue check  – Dorset looks set to disrupt the social media landscape some more.

Bluesky is taking a different approach to socials, its website reads: “We‘re building the AT Protocol, a new foundation for social networking which gives creators independence from platforms, developers the freedom to build, and users a choice in their experience.”

Bluesky added in its release: “The word ‘Bluesky’ evokes a wide-open space of possibility. It was the original name for this project before it took shape, and continues to be the name of our company.

“We’re calling the application we’re building Bluesky because it will be a portal to the world of possibility on top of the AT Protocol.”

Dorsey shared last week on Twitter that Bluesky intends to be “a competitor to any company trying to own the underlying fundamentals for social media or the data of the people using it”.

Bluesky was initially founded by Twitter as a non-profit initiative in 2019 to help develop a similar decentralised concept for the social media giant.

In a Q&A at the time, Dorsey wrote: “The biggest and long-term goal is to build a durable and open protocol for public conversation.

“That it not be owned by any one organization but contributed by as many as possible,” he added. “And that it is born and evolved on the internet with the same principles.”

In an announcement he added: “Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralised standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard.”

Bluesky moves away from the existing framework of a company controlling a platform for users, with advertising schemes in place for profit. Instead, Dorsey’s new project uses Authenticated Transfer Protocol, a federated social network, that is run by many sites instead of just one.

Bluesky announced on 20 October that some 30,000 people had signed up for the app’s waiting list in just two days.

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