I was very kindly invited by someone to try out BlueSky, and although I’d already heard some less-than-positive things about it, I was curious and accepted. With my new account, @theresnotime.bsky.social (now just @theresnotime.co.uk) I set off to understand what the latest social media hype was about.
It didn’t take long for me to start to see flaws, and that hype to fade away to concern.
Now, BlueSky and its protocol are in beta. The developers are quite transparent with the fact that as it stands, things are broken, buggy and need work — that is, at the very least, encouraging news as by definition this means they are going to be working to “fix things”. I posted my initial impressions to my fedi account:
Looking back, that might have been a little unfair given the transparency of the devs on how broken things were in this beta stage, but the things that were broken, and the ‘features’ (or lack thereof) in place this early on, is what fuelled a growing feeling of concern.
As I later went on to post;
Folx, how we all approach the “alternatives” to something as impactful as Twitter (and yes, it was impactful. For many, it was their only lifeline to a “community”) is a big fucking deal and something we shouldn’t jump into feet first.
The decision to trust a service with our social connections, our data, our communities should never be taken lightly.https://iscurrently.live/@theresnotime/110250500485516892
I was (and in some places, still am) as critical of Mastodon and the fediverse in general as I’m currently being with BlueSky — it is a big deal to accept a service which by definition handles our social interactions. That’s a lot of control to give away, and where a social media platform is poorly implemented (or poorly managed) real, lasting damage can be done.
Poor implementation, such as whatever the hell this option is meant to do, could help guide a fledgling community towards building the sort of thing which “free speech absolutists” flock to. Providing toggles in this manner gives the impression (regardless of intent) that “users should have the option to post, and receive, hate speech”.
Combined with ‘features’ like not being able to block accounts, quote “tweets” (something Mastodon has avoided for understandable reasons), a community that already appears to be importing the Twitter toxic mentality (the “woo yeah, we got in on the ground floor 💪” self-congratulatory posts are a bit much…) and a lack of direction on what federation is going to look like, I’m worried what we’re seeing being built is going to just be a repeat of Twitter — whereas many people miss what Twitter was to them (myself included in some respects), we had an opportunity to build back better.
It’s too early to label BlueSky as anything other than “in development”, and only time will tell if criticism from those brave enough to levy it (I don’t count myself in that number — my posts on my fedi account/here are little more than cheap shots at a concerning topic.) will be listened to.