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Some unhappy Twitter users are turning to Bluesky, another site from Jack Dorsey

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Twitter is going through one of its most challenging periods ever. An alternative called Bluesky has been getting a lot of attention in the meantime. It is still small, but it's backed by Jack Dorsey, who also founded Twitter. NPR's Bobby Allyn is here to tell us more. Hey there.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Is Bluesky the next Twitter?

ALLYN: Hard to say just yet, but it is the buzziest social media site right now. And that's because, as we know, ever since Elon Musk purchased Twitter back in October, the platform has just been really rocky. It's been less reliable, less trustworthy, and people have been looking around to find trying to find another place to go. Bluesky was actually started back in 2019 by, as you mentioned, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

KELLY: Oh, so while he was running Twitter, he started this.

ALLYN: While he was running Twitter.

KELLY: OK.

ALLYN: And he did it because he wanted to sort of try out a new kind of social media site. And it's different because - well, there's a few ways in which it's different. The first is that on Bluesky, you'll be able to sort of customize your own experience. You'll be able to kind of tune up and tune down things based on your preferences. Say, if you want more baseball on your feed, you can tune that up. Say you want less weather. You can tune that down. And the whole idea is to be able to sort of say, we don't want this centralized algorithm dictated by a company. Instead, let's put the power in the user's hands, and people are flocking to it. Just consider this stat, though, Mary Louise. There are just 100,000 people on Bluesky, and there are more than 2 million people on the waiting list. So it's kind of the coolest party on the internet right now that everyone's trying to get an invite to.

KELLY: Did you get invited?

ALLYN: I did get invited. And...

KELLY: What's it look like?

ALLYN: It looks like Twitter. It looks like a beta version of Twitter. You know, the people who are Twitter diehards are also on Bluesky. It's kind of a nerdy lot, I would say. There's a number of, you know, tech journalists. There's some politicians. There's some, you know - just people who love to use Twitter every day are also now using Bluesky. It's - you're starting to see communities pop up that really got Twitter a lot of momentum early on, communities around academic circles, journalistic communities, various cultural groups. But, yeah, it's - right now it's small. It's sort of clubby. But people are saying, hey; maybe it is going to be the next Twitter because many people are trying to jump ship.

KELLY: Yeah. And I gather another difference is that if you were to leave Bluesky, you could take your followers with you.

ALLYN: Exactly. There's a very technical term for this called interoperability. And in plain English, that means if, say, a billionaire came in and purchased Bluesky, say, a very mercurial billionaire who likes to rule by chaos - I'm not going to name any names, but say that happened. You can leave Bluesky with all of your followers and with all of your data to another social media site. Now, traditionally, you know, social media sites like Twitter do not work like that. They kind of have a moat around them. You're trapped there with all of your followers and all of your data, and you can't take it anywhere, which is one of the reasons why, despite Elon Musk's sort of mayhem-filled reign of Twitter, people are still there. And that's because, as we know, it's kind of the front page of the internet. It has power in numbers. It's where news happens. It's where people turn to during natural disasters. It's where, you know, politicians and celebrities are making news.

KELLY: Yeah. While I've got you, Bobby, briefly catch me up on where all these other Twitter alternatives stand. People at one time were going to Mastodon or Post or other places.

ALLYN: Yeah, there have been a bunch, and for a variety of reasons, none of them have really taken off. But Bluesky does have potential. At the same time, I have to say it could also just be a flash in the pan. We've seen social media sites like this come and go before. But whatever happens, we'll be here following along.

KELLY: NPR's Bobby Allyn. Thank you.

ALLYN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICHAEL JACKSON SONG, "ROCKIN' ROBIN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.
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