That’s great news for Bluesky, a rival app launched in February to invite-only users and has since seen rapid growth. Data.ai, a consumer data firm, informed Fortune that 360 thousand people around the world have downloaded the app from the Apple store and that another million people are on the waiting list to sign up. Bloomberg claims that the vast majority of the new customers had joined in the past week.
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, also founded Bluesky. He aimed to create a decentralized service, in contrast to Twitter, in which users’ information is spread across multiple servers rather than being housed by a single entity.
CEO of Bluesky Jay Graber stated on the company’s blog last year, “We envision an open social media ecosystem where developers have more opportunity to build and innovate, and users have more choice and control over which services they use and their experience on social media as a whole.”
Dorsey has said that turning Twitter into a business is one of his worst mistakes. If he could redesign it, it would have more of an open-source feel.
When asked in August if Twitter had turned out how he had hoped, Dorsey responded, “The biggest issue and my biggest regret is that it [Twitter] became a company.”
The biggest issue and my biggest regret is that it became a company.— jack (@jack) August 25, 2022
The emergence of Bluesky comes at a time when concerns about data security on social media platforms and criticism of Twitter under Musk’s leadership are at an all-time high. Among these is Twitter’s decision to begin charging users for the blue checkmarks that indicated their identities had been confirmed (they were previously free) and later to begin giving away blue checkmarks to specific prominent persons (in some cases, the deceased). Some people who got free tick marks are upset because they give the impression that they paid for something when they didn’t.
What Services Bluesky May Provide
Bluesky’s backstory involves Twitter heavily. Dorsey served as CEO until November of 2021, and the company obtained its initial capital from Twitter somewhere in that year. Dorsey is not the only board member at Bluesky. There is a queue for customers interested in using the service because it is currently in beta. Timelines for a wider release are currently unknown.
Fortune’s request for comment from Bluesky went unanswered for some time.
Despite the close relationship between Twitter and Facebook, people may be looking for a new social media app as a direct result of Musk’s changes to Twitter. Musk assumed control of the company in late October last year and promptly fired the company’s top executives and, within a few weeks, almost half of the company’s workforce. Due to staffing issues, Twitter experienced periodic outages and has now reduced its content moderation staff. The Washington Post reports that the site has become an incubator for racist and vile material.
Since Musk purchased a social media firm, a number of viable substitutes to Twitter have emerged, Bluesky among them. Also founded in 2016, the decentralized service Mastodon has experienced rapid expansion. The number of people using Mastodon skyrocketed soon after Musk bought Twitter. According to Wired, their biggest month of use was November, when they reached 2.6 million users, up from 300,000. Growth, however, has proven difficult to maintain. By February, downloads had dropped by as much as 99 percent.
One of the main themes during last month’s Congressional hearing of TikTok was the potential for decentralized platforms to solve some of the greater concerns over user data in the hands of particular firms.
For us, decentralization is not an end in itself,” Graber said last month on his blog. The ultimate aim is to give creators more agency over their work while still giving users a say in the matter.