14.12.2023 | by Lili & Berit
Users unhappy with Elon Musk’s changes on Twitter (including the rebranding and name change to X) are constantly on the lookout for a new social media platform with similar features. And what could be better than a platform developed by the same people behind the former version of Twitter?
Screenshot of apps.apple.com displaying the Bluesky app’s page
Bluesky is a decentralised social media platform based on the AT Protocol, “an open-source framework for building social apps.” According to its mission statement, Bluesky encourages open public conversation and advocates for transparency about the creation and development of the app and its algorithms.
Interestingly, Bluesky was launched back in 2019 as a small project of Twitter’s CEO at the time, Jack Dorsey. The plan was to create the open-source framework and gradually migrate Twitter to it. However, when Elon Musk purchased the platform in 2022, Bluesky separated from it and launched its independent operations.
Currently Bluesky is an invitation-only platform, meaning that only people invited by existing users are able to sign up. People who don’t know anybody on the platform but still wish to sign up can join a waitlist and can eventually get an invitation from Bluesky itself.
Screenshot of bsky.app displaying the option to join the waitlist
Despite this, Bluesky can boast a rapid increase in users. Back in September 2023, the platform reached 1 million users, which had quickly doubled by mid-November. Notable personalities like author Neil Gaiman and politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are also amongst those 2 million users.
Bluesky has similar functions to the old Twitter. Once signed up, users can pick their handles and write, share, reply to or like 256 character posts that may include pictures. Users can also follow other users and interact with posts appearing on their personalised Discover feed. However, Bluesky doesn’t currently offer direct messages nor other features like adding accounts to lists or searchable hashtags.
Screenshot of bsky.app displaying the signup steps to the platform
As you may see from the above screenshot, signing up for Bluesky is not difficult (provided you have an invitation). All you need to do is enter your hosting provider, your invitation code, your email address, password and birth date, and finally, pick a handle for your profile.
While Bluesky is similar to other major social media platforms, there are a few significant differences. For example, the option to pick a hosting service allows users to host their own servers and retain control over their data.
Similarly, Bluesky wants to become federated. This means that if a developer built their social network using the AT Protocol, Bluesky users can migrate their accounts to that network, allowing small independent communities to form within the open source protocol. This may sound reassuring to users worried about somebody purchasing the platform and changing it beyond recognition. Should that happen, they can simply take their accounts and go over to another platform built with the same protocol.
From an online brand protection point of view, the current invitation-only signup process considerably enhances the security of the platform. The higher the entry barriers, the lower the chance that fraudulent users can storm the platform en masse.
As we’re always on the lookout for potential fora where fraudsters can infringe on our clients’ IP rights, we decided to test the platform and report on our findings.
After receiving an invitation and signing up, we landed on a welcome screen explaining the core values of Bluesky.
Screenshot of bsky.app’s welcome screen
Then the platform recommended various feeds and users for us to follow. Since they didn’t ask about our interests first, we believe these recommendations are initially generated randomly and may be adjusted later on.
|Screenshot of bsky.app’s randomly recommended feeds to follow
|Screenshot of bsky.app’s randomly recommended users to follow
Bluesky’s own official account and the AT Protocol’s Developer account are first on the list of recommended follows.
We searched for several well-known brands on the platform, but at the time of writing this article, none of our randomly chosen brands were on Bluesky. This could indicate that despite the rapid growth in user numbers, brands are still holding back to see if setting up an account on Bluesky is worth their time.
Similarly, we ran a search for newspapers and TV stations. We found a couple of them, like German news magazine Der Spiegel and public broadcasters BBC from the UK and Tagesschau from Germany, but they’re mostly bot accounts reposting content from other platforms. This again indicates that Bluesky is not yet in the mainstream and media corporations want to wait before investing valuable human resources into maintaining an account.
Screenshots of Der Spiegel’s, BBCNews’ and Tageschau’s bot accounts on bsky.app
The platform allows users to choose their own handle. Normally this comes with the extension bsky.social but people can change their entire handle, including extension to their own domain name.
At this point it’s unclear whether some handles are reserved for official accounts of notable personalities. However, we’ve noticed that just like on other social media platforms, unofficial accounts with common misspellings already exist on Bluesky. For example, take a look at the screenshot below.
Screenshot of an account in Joe Biden’s name on bsky.app
Without more extensive research we can’t be entirely sure who the operator of this account is, but based on the content of the posts, as well as the fact that they use a “0” in their handle instead of an “o”, it’s safe to assume that this is not the official account of the President of the United States, nor a private account of Joe Biden’s.
Which brings us to a very important question: verification and identity theft.
While it’s not directly forbidden to take a handle that resembles another person or brand’s name, Bluesky seems to be aware of the issues with impersonation. In fact, users can filter accounts and posts that falsely claim to be another person or organisation.
Screenshot of the moderation options of bsky.app
However, it’s unclear what Bluesky does with such information. The fact that users can filter such content suggests that while Bluesky takes note of the issue, it lets it slide and puts it up to users whether they want to see or block content from an account that may impersonate another entity.
When it comes to copyright infringement, the platform has a stricter approach. Users can flag content as infringing on somebody’s copyright and notify the platform about it. If such an incident repeatedly occurs, Bluesky reserves the right to disable the account responsible for the infringing content.
Screenshot of bsky.app displaying the option to report content for any kind of violation
But who’s going to notice and report such content? It seems that Bluesky, like many other platforms, makes this the responsibility of users.
globaleyez’s social media monitoring service is already available on Bluesky and is perfect for detecting any content that infringes on your brand’s IP rights. Once we highlight infringing posts and imagery, we’ll enforce your rights and ensure their swift removal from the platform.
Bluesky is an up-and-coming social media platform trying to establish itself in the confusion that follows the rebranding of Twitter. While it’s not yet clear how much Bluesky will influence the landscape of social media, it’s important for brands to remain vigilant and nip any potential infringements in the bud.
If you’re worried about the security of your IP rights on Bluesky or anywhere else on- and offline, contact us and let’s set up a comprehensive IP protection strategy for your brand.