X rival Bluesky hits 2M users, says federation coming ‘early next year’

Bluesky, the company building a decentralized alternative to Twitter/X, Office has partnered now it’s hit 2 million users – up another million since September, despite remaining an invitation-only app. It also revealed the timeframe regarding other key goals, indicating that it plans to have a public web interface live by the end of the month and launch the federation early next year.

The latter is one of the most important differences between Bluesky and X, because it allows Bluesky to act as a more open social network. This means it works more like Mastodon where users can pick and choose which servers to join and switch their accounts at will. This is what Bluesky says today that makes it “billionaire-proof” – a swipe at Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter, now called X.

“You always have the freedom to choose (and to opt out) instead of being held to the whims of private companies or black box algorithms,” explained in a company blog post. “And wherever you go, your friends and relations will be there too,” it said.

Similar to the decentralized service Mastodon, the federation can be anyone running their own service and connecting to any service that also runs the same protocol. In Bluesky’s case, this will be done through the AT Protocol that the company is also developing with its consumer-facing service and mobile app. However, the other major decentralized social network, Mastodon, uses a well-established protocol, ActivityPub, which has gained greater traction in the months since Musk’s Twitter acquisition.

Since then, other companies including Mozilla, Flipboard, Medium, and Automattic (parent of WordPress.com) have accepted ActivityPub and Mastodon. That will be a challenge in terms of Bluesky’s future reach unless it works to allow AT Protocol and ActivityPub to interoperate. solidarity both will be technically possible, but probably something that will happen further down the road, rather than in the near term.

In the meantime, Bluesky is working to make its own service more accessible, which includes launching a public web interface later this month. This allows anyone to see Bluesky posts, even if they don’t have an account. That would make the network more promising in terms of a true X rival for breaking news and conversations but could also expose the posts of Bluesky users to the outside world in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. ready for. (The app doesn’t currently offer an option to set profiles to “private,” as Twitter/X. Other users not happy about IT.)

Despite its growth, Bluesky’s reluctance to remove its invitation-only status and open its network to more users has allowed other X competitors to gain a foothold. Last month, for example, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his X alternative, Instagram Threads, has just under 100 million monthly active users. He believes it will reach one billion users in the next few years. And Threads intends to interoperate with ActivityPub in the future.

Bluesky’s announcement follows Threads’ rapid-fire release of features to make the app more competitive with X, including things like a chronological feed, support for viewing what you like, search, a (free) edit button, a web version, polls and GIF support , topic tags, and soon, a developer API. Mastodon also took advantage of the opportunity presented by the acquisition of Twitter, and launched an accessible version of its service this September. But Mastodn currently has 1.6 million monthly active userswhich makes it even smaller than Threads.

Along with today’s news, Bluesky also noted other recently launched features, including mobile push notifications, shareable user lists, email verification, advanced feed and thread preferences for sorting and filtering posts. , a media tab in user profiles, a Likes tab in your own user profile. , suggested fixes, and various accessibility improvements.

Although Bluesky began life as a Twitter project under Jack Dorsey, the company was spun off from Twitter. $13 million to start R&D. Dorsey sits on its board. This year, the company raised an $8 million seed round led by Neo to continue its growth, and converted from a public benefit LLC to a public benefit C Corp.

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