Heed caution before you sign up to Bluesky, the new Twitter alternative
The grass isn't always greener on the other side
You’ve probably already heard about Bluesky, the Twitter alternative which has attracted thousands of new users in recent weeks. But before you bin off Twitter and praise Bluesky as the solution to all of social media’s problems, you should probably read the Terms of Service.
Ashley Gjokvic, a lawyer based in New York, tweeted some worrying facts about what you’ll agree to when you sign up to Bluesky, which is currently only accessible if you have an invite or receive a code from an existing user.
As Gjokvic points out, Bluesky’s Terms of Service make it clear that all of the content you put on the platform – posts, pictures, name, likeness, or other personal rights – belong to BlueSky. Section four of BlueSky’s Terms of Service makes it clear you’re granting ‘Bluesky Parties’ an “irrevocable, non-exclusive, perpetual, transferable, worldwide, royalty-free license”.
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: murky Bluesky
📈 Bluesky is growing rapidly in popularity
🔎 However, you might want to check the small print
😬 Some of the Terms of Service are slightly concerning
🗣️ However, Bluesky’s CEO has moved to address some of the issues
Bluesky also has the right to “terminate or suspend, in whole or in part, your access” to the platform at its “sole discretion, at any time and without notice to you”. Interestingly, all requests to delete an account will be considered “on a case-by-case basis”, too.
Got a dispute with Bluesky? You’ll have to revolve it solely “by binding, individual arbitration and not in a class, representative or consolidated action or proceeding”.
Finally, and perhaps the most concerning aspect, is that Bluesky doesn’t guarantee your data is secure. “Unfortunately, no system is 100% secure, and we cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information you provide to us,” says section 6 under ‘Security of your information’.
Bluesky also says “It may attempt to notify you electronically by posting a notice on our Services, by mail, or by sending an email to you”, but doesn’t expressly say that it will.
Ashely Gjokvic’s thread prompted a response from Jay Graber, the CEO of Bluesky.
Replying to Gjokvic’s concerns, Graber tweeted: “Hi – I’m the CEO of Bluesky. I asked for a standard social media ToS [Terms of Service] from our lawyers in preparation of our beta app release. It was not my intent for the legalese to end up so confusing and unfriendly. We’ve already been working on a second pass over the past few weeks.”
Graber went on to address a few of Gjokvic’s points, beginning with clarifying that Jack Dorsey “does not have any personal license to any content” and that he is one of three board members at Bluesky.
She also says that “for any accounts that are used legally, we will perform hard deletes of the account and data across the network” and said "individual arbitration is “Pretty standard… We’re considering a new provision where the arbitration has to take place in the location of the party being sued.”
In terms of tracking and data breaches, Graber was less forthright. “We needed some tracking to know who’s using our app: for metrics and for catching bad actors. We need to follow the law to protect our community,” Graber tweeted.
Regarding breaches, she said, “We said ‘no system is 100% secure’, which is true. And we say we may try to reach you by multiple means, including by email, by the app, or even by mail if we could”.
Bluesky could be the first genuine rival to Elon Musk’s Twitter. Previous platforms like Mastodon and Hive saw early success only to die off later, Bluesky seems to have more appeal, mainly because it’s a Twitter clone.
If, like me, you’re tired of social media in general and are too dug in to jump on the bandwagon of the next platform claiming to be “different”, remember it’s always worth heeding caution before you sign up.
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