How to Use The Bluesky Social Media App

28 February 2024

After Elon Musk’s changes to X, many loyal Twitter users started to look at alternatives. From this emerged two new micro-blogging apps, Threads and Bluesky. Twitter’s ex-CEO, Jack Dorsey, wanted to create a decentralized social media app that would allow anyone to weigh in on the development of the network. Thus, Bluesky social media was born, sitting at 4 million registered users as of February 2024.

What is Bluesky Social?

In February 2023, Bluesky Social arrived at app stores, looking rather similar to Twitter’s interface. The features don’t stray too far away from Twitter either. However, there’s one main difference: decentralization. 

Bluesky is a microblogging social app, with many similarities to Twitter such as an almost identical interface, community-based features, and algorithmic choice and personalization. 

However, the main difference is Bluesky is building an AT Protocol, allowing users to see how this app is being built, with full transparency. 

What is the Bluesky AT Protocol?

Designed by Bluesky, the AT Protocol, also known as atproto, is a new networking technology focusing on decentralizing power on social media apps. This allows users to do a few different things: 

  • Connect with anyone on any service that’s using the AT Protocol.
  • Control what content you view, through an open market of algorithms. 
  • Create one identity Bluesky and transfer this to other platforms using the AT Protocol. 

Bluesky’s goal is to open the marketplace for social media networks, to challenge larger networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. 

This AT Protocol is now making it possible for more than one organization to own a social network. This will allow researchers and users to openly communicate and help solve issues on the app, to continue to improve and develop user experiences. 

How to Join Bluesky Social

Bluesky Social is now open to the public and anyone can create an account. To create an account, you can either do this via the mobile app on iOS and Android, or by heading to this link. From here, the app will prompt you through a few questions to set up your account:

Handles on Bluesky are presented as @username.bsky.social. You may notice this is similar to Threads, where handles appear as @username.threads.net.

Once you select your handle, you will be asked which topics interest you, which feeds you want on your main feed, and other feeds that may interest you. Bluesky feeds are unique since many are built and created by the community rather than solely by the network. You can see that the #nba feed was designed by user @skyfeed.xyz.

When you have made it through the registration steps, you will be navigated to the home page of the app. At the top, all of the main feeds you have chosen will appear. On the left-hand side, you will see a series of symbols that represent different menus. As you navigate through this network, you will notice its structure and features resemble those of early Twitter quite closely.

Bluesky Social Media Features

When you first enter the app, the interface of Bluesky looks like this:

As you can see, the UI of Bluesky is very similar to X’s, just with fewer options.

Choose your Bluesky Feeds

When first entering the app, you will be led to the home page with those feed topics you have chosen as your “Main feeds”. While these feeds will differ per user, you can customize, move around, and continue to find new feeds to save. To do this, navigate to the menu with a # icon.

Within this menu, you will see a list of “My Feeds”, including all those feed topics you have subscribed to. Under this, you can discover new feeds based on your interests.

Post to Bluesky

Posting on Bluesky is straightforward, and functions very similarly to Twitter and Threads. To create a new post, click on the blue button in the bottom right corner including a pen and paper icon.

Posts can include up to 300 characters, multiple images, hashtags, and emojis. Before publishing, you also can select who can view your post:

Moderate your account

Inside the Moderation menu, indicated by a raised hand icon, you can moderate your account in four different ways:

  • Content filtering: Inside this option, you can select to either hide, warn, or show certain content that contains spam, impersonation, or hate group iconography. These are all set to hide by default.
  • Moderation lists: These are public lists of users to mute or block in bulk. With this, you can name the list and add a description.
  • Muted accounts: If you have muted any accounts, you will no longer see their posts in your feed. After muting an account, their profile will appear in this section.
  • Blocked accounts: Any accounts you have blocked will appear here. If you have blocked an account, they cannot interact or view your content in any way, and you will not see their content in your feed.

Create user lists

While you can create moderation lists of those users to mute or block in bulk, you can also create lists of users based on any grouping. For example, you could create a list of users that are amazing authors, another list of users posting up-to-date news, etc. These can even drive feeds and create new communities.

Customize your profile

You can customize your profile by adding a profile picture, background image, display name, and description. Inside your profile page you can view all your posted content, and any replies, media, likes, feeds, and lists.

If you want to share your profile, you can do so by clicking on the three-dot icon in the top-right corner of your profile page.

Create your own Bluesky feed

Setting up your own Bluesky feed is possible for any user, however it does require basic coding knowledge. To do this, you first need to head to Skyfeed.app. You will enter in your Bluesky username, and then for the App password, you will grab this from inside your Bluesky Settings, underneath App Passwords.

Once you’re inside the Skyfeed app, you will create your feed via the Feed Builder. This process can become complicated, however, in short you will create different blocks that form the feed. First, you will define the inputs, then add filters, and finally add a RegEx.

We know this is not a beginner process, so again, ensure you understand how this process works before diving in to create your own feed.

Select your app preferences

Inside the Settings menu, you have a variety of options to customize your feed and select your content preferences. For example, you can choose your app appearance to be either System, Light, or Dark. You can also choose if you want to turn on the Dim or Dark themes.

Choose how you want to sort replies and if you want to prioritize your followers posts inside Thread Preferences. In the Following Feed Prefences, you can choose if you want to show replies, reposts, and quote posts and create reply filters.

Conclusions

Although it’s unlikely Twitter will be completely taken out by Bluesky, we do know that this is changing the digital ecosystem tremendously. Decentralization in social networks has been long gone, as we have seen smaller and smaller groups centralize authority over networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. 

The goal of Bluesky Social is to go back to the days when anyone could publish a blog, or use a RSS to subscribe to multiple blog sites. This new open-source app may also allow for freedom in content creation and accessibility. 

When Twitter allowed free public access to its API, many companies including Metricool, could create tools to support creators, marketers, and business owners in growing their brands. 

However, with recent changes to its API, many businesses had to make a big decision on if they wanted to pay for this access. Bluesky Social launched at a convenient time, announcing its free API access to all users.

Anniston Ward Anniston Ward , 28 February 2024

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