More power to users? Bluesky takes on Twitter, to decentralize social media experience with AT Protocol
Bluesky has emerged as a Twitter rival that aims to put more power into the hands of its users through an innovative technology called AT Protocol. What is it and how can it revolutionize the social media experience?
Ever since Twitter was acquired by billionaire Elon Musk, the user base has been highly polarized on the platform. While one-half of the Twitter population has been on board with the new developments, the other half is not at all happy. People wanted a better alternative and soon, a number of Twitter-like platforms began emerging. From Mastodon to Substack Notes, they all claimed to offer something different, but none were able to create a buzz similar to Bluesky. The platform was conceptualized and designed by Twitter ex-CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey and is built on a promise of creating a decentralized platform using an innovative Authenticated Transfer Protocol (AT Protocol) as its foundation.
And the combination of a decentralized social media platform and the Twitter cofounder's seal of approval has turned a lot of eyes. At present, Bluesky is invite-only and has about 50,000 users. But as per reports, as many as 1 million people have joined the waitlist including personalities such as US representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the comedian Dril.
But the question that remains is what exactly is this decentralized platform and how does it innovate the existing social media experience?
Bluesky - Innovating the current social media model
In short, today's social media experience is largely around engagement. Users get markers such as ‘like', ‘share', ‘retweet', ‘upvote', ‘comment' etc. to show whether they find a particular content shared on the platform interesting or not. A post that has a high number of likes, shares, or comments is generally considered to be ‘viral'.
Now, when it comes to the developers' side of things, these viral posts indicate what people are most likely interested in. So, most recommendations pick out these posts to the top of user feeds and most users interact with these posts first.
The problem with this is that the nature of these posts is often provocative, sensational, and strongly opinionated, which can often create a toxic space for users who do not agree with the opinion. Further, this also means that fabricating such virality by having a large community to support such content can also create a biased perception of the entire user base.
That is where Bluesky begs to differ. Jack Dorsey, first began working on Bluesky in 2019, while he was still at Twitter, with an aim to eliminate these algorithm-based flaws and create a platform where virality is not rewarded to simulate conversations and interactions that are similar to real life.
His solution to the problem was AT Protocol which enables users to create a decentralized platform.
Consider this, maybe you like the group of people you are connected with on a social media platform and you would want to see their posts, but the platform constantly pushes politically charged content that you are not interested in. The AT Protocol will allow you to access the posts from your group through an open domain and take it to a different platform (that you can either build or join after someone else has built it) with a different set of algorithms that aligns with your social media usage.
In theory, every user on the platform can create a different version of social media for themselves which will be governed by their own principles and functionalities.
Of course, there are significant roadblocks in achieving this, and users' adoption of such complex technology is a primary issue. So, it remains to be seen how Dorsey's platform solves this problem to make decentralized social media more accessible to the masses.
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