It looks like we have a new social media app on the market after Bluesky, a Twitter alternative backed by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, makes its way into the App Store. Bluesky was first announced in 2019 by Twitter as a project to create an open and decentralised standard for social media, according to a statement on the app's blog page.
Since then, the project has remained relatively lowkey with the last update from the team coming in October last year. At that point, the team updated the public on the status of its social protocol that powers its new app. It revealed that since it released its Authenticated Transfer Protocol (ADX), the very first iteration of the protocol, it had since improved and simplified ADX’s design which was then renamed to be called the AT Protocol.
"The “AT Protocol” is a new federated social network. It integrates ideas from the latest decentralised technologies into a simple, fast, and open network," said the Bluesky team on its block. It went on to define a federated network by explaining that it is a way for servers to communicate with each other. Instead of one site running the network, you can have many sites. This means you get a choice of provider, and individuals and businesses can self-host if they want, according to the app.
What is Bluesky?
Bluesky is a new social media app that has been touted as an alternative to Twitter. Currently, it is only available as an invite-only beta which essentially means that we can soon expect a public launch. While little is known about Bluesky at the moment, we do have an idea of what this decentralised social media platform will look like based on its App Store listing which has images of the app. Screengrabs reveal a feed that looks almost identical to Twitter with similar user profile pages and feeds. Media reports also mention that posts are also limited to 256 characters.
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A threat to Twitter?
Currently, the climate surrounding Twitter is very unstable as it continues to be wracked with significant layoffs and changes. Most recently, Twitter said that it will be offering free advertisements to brands that advertise on its platform as it attempts to lure brands back onto its platform following a massive drop in its ad business. This initiative came as the social media site saw the loss of many top advertisers that contributed to the company bleeding over US$4 million a day, according to a tweet by Musk in November last year.
As a result of massive revenue drops, Musk began cutting costs beginning with significant layoffs and office closures that even affected Singapore. In January, Twitter Singapore asked its staff members in its Singapore office to vacate the building after issues with rent payments.
Considering the instability, the world is at the cusp of a potential social media platform overhaul, according to Nachiket Desai, an account director at M&C Saatchi Performance. "Based on what we have seen in the past with platforms such as Myspace, social media is cyclical in nature and a decentralised platform such as Bluesky might work as an ‘un-censored’ or less censored aggregator of social media views and content," he said.
Saying that, he acknowledged that every platform takes time to build itself up and gain adoption, so it is nascent to think of advertising potential given the current macroeconomic situation. "However, as soon as there is a sizeable audience in place, we may start seeing a budget shift there as evidenced by TikTok’s recent result," he said in response to questions about Bluesky's advertising potential.
He added that from a brand perspective, only two things mater with advertising and those are brand safety and the results of digital metrics. "As long as Bluesky is able to convince advertisers of the benefits here, many brands may move to get an early mover advantage on a niche audience," he said.
BlueSky or even the likes of Mastodon, have the potential to take over Twitter space, with decentralisation, said Siddharth Surana, COO of Media360 Communications. However, getting to that scale will prove to be very challenging, with the multitude of options out there for users.
“BlueSky did take a leaflet from Google playbook with its invite-only beta launch and that looks positive with a focus on product. However, from an advertising standpoint, it’s not on anyone’s radar. It’s too new, without a notable user base and for all we know, it might never really take off,” he added.
Saying that, it looks like Bluesky might see a boom considering that social conversations around it have peaked in the last few days. According to media intelligence company Carma, Bluesky garnered a huge wave of conversation on social media in the first couple of days after its launch.
"Sentiments are positive at 30.2% as netizens demonstrate excitement and curiosity around the possibilities of the new social platform," said a spokesperson from CARMA.
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