Bluesky starts letting users host their own servers

Bluesky is taking a big leap toward federating. On Thursday, the social network announced that it is opening up early access for users and developers who want to self-host their data. While this isn’t true federation yet, the company plans to open up federation to larger servers with even more users in its next phase. When the dust settles, anyone can (in theory) create their own server with their own rules on Bluesky’s AT Protocol. 

The draw of self-hosting is that it offers users more control over their social media. Rather than store your data on Bluesky’s servers, you can keep it on your own, or move your existing posts, likes, and followers to another company’s platform. If Bluesky were to go bankrupt or change hands, users who self-host would have a degree of extra security.

In its developer’s blog, Bluesky stressed that “guardrails” are still in place. Most significantly, users can only self-host their own accounts for now, and in the next phase, self-hosted servers will initially be limited to 10 accounts each, with rate limits on usage. Bluesky will increase the baseline rate limits over time, as “trust and reputation is established” among those who self-host. It is also working on tools to detect and mitigate abuse. 

Even though there are training wheels, users should still self-host with caution. Bluesky does warn in its developer’s instructions not to be surprised if things are slow or just outright break, and it recommends against self-hosting for most users, at least on their main accounts.

Earlier this month, Bluesky finally tossed its invite-only system, opening up the network to expand well beyond the 3 million signups since its launch in 2023. As self-hosting becomes more accessible, more users and third-party developers will hopefully flock to the platform.

On Bluesky, server choice doesn’t affect what content you see. Servers are only one piece of the protocol — when you browse Bluesky, you see posts that are pulled together from many different servers. This is why you can change your server after signing up without losing your username, friends, or posts.

All told, today’s Bluesky will still look very different from the Bluesky of the future. Independent moderation is also expected to arrive at Bluesky sometime soon. The platform is gradually taking more steps to give third-party developers and users more control over their experiences online. And Bluesky may no longer retain ownership of its AT protocol. CEO Jay Graber told The Verge that the plan is to hand over control of the AT protocol to a web standards body like the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Source: The Verge

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