Decentralized Twitter alternative Bluesky rolls out an optional Discover feed

By 07/31/2023
Decentralized Twitter alternative Bluesky rolls out an optional Discover feed

Big changes are coming to Bluesky. The alternative to Twitter/X is moving beyond its custom recommendation algorithms by rolling out a default Discover feed that resembles TikTok’s For You Page.

Bluesky, which is backed by Jack Dorsey and other longtime Twitter execs, aims to provide a more customized experience than X. The app’s bread-and-butter is its decentralized structure, which allows users to build and share their own themed feeds. The new Discover page, which replaces a preexisting product named What’s Hot, pulls each user’s feeds together on a central hub. As a blog post from Bluesky explains, Discover is a mix of trending posts, updates from your follows, and content that exists “near your social graph.”

In an era when some social networks are sparring with users over frustrating algorithmic adjustments, Bluesky is committing to its core theme of user choice. “If you don’t like our new Discover feed, you can simply remove it and replace it with any other custom feed,” reads the company’s blog post. “Our approach to how feeds work mirrors our overall design philosophy: give users sensible defaults but leave them the option to fully customize their experience if they don’t like our choices.”

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By taking a more flexible approach than its rivals — even as it apes their signature products — Bluesky is trying to put the joy back in social media. “We sat down and said, ‘How do we make a better experience than what Twitter did?’ And the real opportunity is in creating something that’s a fundamentally more positive experience,” Bluesky engineer Paul Frazee told Gizmodo. “You get more of what you want, less of what you don’t want, and it’s less emotionally chaotic.”

Bluesky’s shifting Discover feed arrives during a period of significant growth for the young company. Chaos at X is driving former Twitter users to alternative sites. Some of those disaffected tweeters are going to Bluesky, which hit the App Store earlier this year. The influx of new users has been so great that Bluesky temporarily halted sign-ups as it worked on performance updates.

In an article for The Atlantic, Helen Lewis concurred that Bluesky “has been notoriously stingy with its invite code,” but she has also seen the rise of a unique culture on the young platform. “As far as I can tell, Bluesky is siphoning off both Twitter’s most emotionally dysregulated users and its most committed shitposters,” Lewis wrote. “It’s nice to see that a small, tight-knit, and politically distinctive community has formed.”

Bluesky is not the only destination for never-Xers. T2, which raised funding earlier this year, launched an invites system in April.

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