a lot of the blackAnd Gay and transgender Users who have made Twitter a cultural touchstone are becoming weary about the platform, which they say is becoming increasingly inhospitable to marginalized communities. Instead, they’re flocking to Bluesky, a noisy invite-only app that just might be the faltering alternative Twitter users are looking for.

Bluesky is in beta testing, which means it’s not widely available yet; The company said It has about 50,000 users. The invitation system reduced the risk of bad actors by limiting sign-ups and prioritizing people who bring in “Trustworthy participants. Some members Marginalized communities on it say they are being careful They are optimistic that their early input will help create a tolerant environment as the app grows.

Black tech workers on Twitter were among the first communities to migrate to Bluesky, an initiative spearheaded by an active user named Aveta.

“I was heartbroken that so many of my favorite people on Twitter were leaving and I didn’t interact with them and it felt like a fluke,” said Avita, who asked that her screen name be used to protect her privacy. “So I was, like, maybe by bringing them to Bluesky, I could see them again.”

Aveta joined the platform on April 15th. She said she was encouraged by its familiar feel and the team’s support of community builders. I got some invitation codes and set out to bring in as many people as I could. Its first goal was to get its community, Black tech Twitter, on Bluesky.

“One thing that’s been consistent throughout all those years of social media is, at the core of social media, that black people made it popular,” she said. She added, “We have such a huge influence on these networks, and yet we are so often overlooked.”

Once Black Twitter users started moving to Bluesky, Aveta said, others wanted to follow.

“Black Twitter” — an informal group of users self-organizing around shared cultural experiences holding sometimes viral discussions about social issues of pop culture — has played a major role in movements such as #SayHerName And #Oscar So White.

In 2018, black Americans represented an estimated 28% of Twitter users, is nearly twice the proportion of the black population in the United States, according to media benchmarking firm Nielsen. As of last spring, black Americans were 5% more likely than the general population to have used Twitter in the past 30 days — second only to Asian American users.

Some signs point to a slowdown among Black Twitter users predating Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter last year. In April 2022, the growth rate among Black Twitter users was already slower than for any other ethnic group: 0.8% in 2021, down from 2.5% the year before, according to estimates provided by Insider Intelligence eMarketer.

Aveta said it prioritized bringing the Black Tech community to Bluesky first to combine social appeal with tech know-how.

“I really wanted us because, together with the development team, we could help shape and shape it. We could help give a perspective that might not have been thought of before,” she said.

Research firm Data.ai said that despite an invite-only status, Bluesky ranked high on download charts around the world.

Aveta has instructed those who want her Bluesky invites to have someone who can vouch for their characters, as she has built her Bluesky community with intent.

“The Internet has good people, but it has really bad people, and for me, when I’m inviting people and when I’m in this community-building mode, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I get it,” she said.

Avita called itself the “unofficial Mama Sky” because of the number of invitations it had for new users. She estimates she gave close to 1,000, but has lost track of the exact number. After introducing her community, Aveta has extended its invitations to people of color, LGBT people, and people with disabilities.

“Intersectionality interests me,” she said.

Among the invitees were several members of Tech by Choice, a 1,200-member nonprofit group that helps marginalized communities get into and stay in the tech industry. “Through it, I’ve been able to bring people from the Tech by Choice community onto the platform so they can understand what’s going on and learn how to build for the platform, which I think is huge — to have developers of color that aren’t represented,” said Valerie Phoenix, 29, who founded and runs the organization. Underrepresented trying to create a new platform.”

Phoenix, who follows DigitalBlkHippy on Twitter, said Twitter has become a mandatory part of her social media presence — ads and professional interactions, for example — since Musk took over and that she finds herself more engaged with the community on Bluesky. The hands-on moderation on Bluesky makes her feel safer, she said, and she was encouraged by the feedback the Bluesky team is asking for.

“It seems to be the other way around when it comes to moderation on Twitter,” she said.

Queer and Trans users also migrated to Bluesky, and soon they are Big part from him. One of the best parts about Bluesky, compared to Twitter, is that she can post normally without immediately receiving an influx of transphobic comments or death threats, said Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic and transgender rights activist. .

“It was really cool to be publishing stuff in a place that was so offbeat and friendly,” said Caraballo. “Also, the sex factor was very positive, and generally had very positive vibes. It was refreshing, and reminded me of what social media can actually be.”

Caraballo said Bluesky’s unique corporate structure as a limited liability public benefit company may have an impact on the app’s culture going forward. A limited liability public benefit company allows executives to pursue social causes without prioritizing shareholder returns.

“What this does is allow the company more leeway to protect its users without necessarily having a commercial rationale behind its policies,” she said.

Pariss Chandler, organizer of Black Tech Twitter and founder of recruitment platform Black Tech Pipeline, said diversity, equity and inclusion should be taken into consideration early in launching the platform. She said the visibility of marginalized communities in Bluesky beta testing is valuable to the developers who are building the app.

“They’re really lucky to have all these different communities out there, especially marginalized communities, because they get feedback right away,” Chandler said. “It’s like you’re getting different feedback from different experiences, different needs and features that people want to see on the platform and why those things are important, especially when it comes to safety and moderation.”

The developers’ quick responses to feedback or issues are “beta,” Chandler said, because the platform is not widely available. However, she said that once Bluesky is available to everyone, moderation will be difficult to deal with.

Caraballo agreed that increasing Bluesky’s moderation would be a challenge, but said that the actions of the current user base may dictate users’ expectations going forward.

“The most effective moderation would be community and social norms, such as what is acceptable and what is not,” she said. “And by demonstrating that harassment and antisocial behavior really will not be tolerated, a certain kind of community can really be built.”

Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at eMarketer Insider Intelligence, said the challenge will be maintaining the same sense of comfort for users as Bluesky evolves.

Although the app has many similarities to Twitter, its main difference is that it is decentralized. This means that user data can be stored on independent servers rather than on company-owned servers. In the future, users will be able to develop their own servers for use with the communities of their choice.

Right now, most users interact on one main feed. As servers are divided, this could result in communities with more autonomy in dealing with trolls – or an interface that is more complex and less attractive to potential new users.

“It’s easier now because it’s smaller, right?” She said. “But overall, this is the closest thing we’ve got to a near-perfect Twitter replica and, for now, without too many challenges.”

Bluesky did not immediately respond to a request for comment. in that moderation plans On its website, it says that as it grows, it will use “automatic filtering, manual management actions and community rating” to moderate content.


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