If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen people flocking to Bluesky, a social platform hailed as a promising alternative to the now-struggling Bird app. It looks almost identical to Twitter, it was originally funded by Twitter(opens in a new tab), and it’s called the “social network for microblogging,” which, hey, is funny because that’s exactly what Twitter is. Anyways! Before you run off to the greener pastures of Bluesky, it’s important to know what you’re agreeing to when you sign up for the platform.
Bluesky currently owns everything you post
On Thursday, Apr. 27, Twitter user Ashley Gjøvik he tweeted(opens in a new tab) about Bluesky’s bewilderingly broad terms of service(opens in a new tab). He tweeted several screenshots of the terms, including an excerpt that reads “If you post any content to Bluesky’s web services, you hereby grant Bluesky and its licensors a worldwide, perpetual right and license to use copyright-free and non-exclusive, reproduce, publicly display, publicly perform, modify, sublicense and distribute the Content, on or in connection with the Bluesky Web Services.”
In plain English, this means: We own everything you post.
Rose Wang, who works in strategy and operations at Bluesky according to her LinkedIn profile,(opens in a new tab) responded to Gjøvik’s screenshots with an explanation of how the Bluesky team intends to interpret the terms: “In order for us to work, we need to be able to promote the app,” Wang wrote.
“This means that we will take screenshots of Bluesky, which will include your user content. That said, we have explicitly told our community that if we are using your content in a way that you disapprove of, please email us … and We’ll do our best to fulfill your wishes Bluesky was built so that users own their data, developers are never left out of the ecosystem, and creators can always own the relationship with its users… So we are doing our best how [a] team to honor our ethos… Coming soon, our ToS will explain use cases to mitigate confusion.”
This all sounds good. But the Terms of Service agreements amount to a binding contract, and the tweets say a company is “doing it.” [its] better’ to use your content in a certain way you don’t.
Is it the Bluesky? An alternative to Twitter takes off.
These terms are harsh, even compared to Facebook
Let’s take a look at Facebook’s Terms of Service,(opens in a new tab) which are much more nuanced in their explanation of user rights. “You retain ownership of the intellectual property rights,” the terms page says. “Nothing in these Terms takes away the rights you have over your own content… However, in order to provide our services we need you to give us certain legal permissions (known as a ‘license’) to use that content.”
Facebook’s terms document then outlines what the license covers, noting that it only applies “specifically when you share, post or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights in or in connection with our Products” . The document also provides a useful example: If you post a photo, you grant Facebook certain necessary permissions, allowing Facebook’s parent company, Meta, to duplicate it, store it and share it with others in a manner “consistent with your settings”. Reassuringly, it notes that the license you grant “will end when your content is removed from our systems.”
Bluesky may be protecting itself because it’s new
Compared to Facebook’s terms, Bluesky reads like a first draft launched to satisfy a legal team, presumably so the platform can start onboarding users and, in turn, said the CEO(opens in a new tab) this is essentially what happened. You know what they say in tech: move fast, break things, and claim ownership of your users’ content!
Wang’s answers point to another sticky issue: copyright. “We must protect ourselves,” he wrote. Journalists, according to Wang, “have taken screenshots of the app and inserted it into their publications,” and the terms must make it possible to “transfer content licensing rights to them.” In the case of moderation, Wang said, copyright comes into play again. Bluesky must be able to legally transfer content to moderators “so they can scan the content” and screen out objectionable material.
These terms may be disadvantageous to Bluesky
But having user content and being able to transfer the rights to that content may mean that BlueSky is not protected by the “safe harbor“.(opens in a new tab)” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Under the DMCA, safe harbor protection disappears if a company has the “right and ability to control(opens in a new tab)” content that infringes copyright and can potentially profit from it. This means that these terms leave Bluesky vulnerable to costly copyright infringement litigation, which would undermine the new app’s potential.
For all its promise, Bluesky is still a work in progress. And while it’s never fun to read the fine print, it’s worth a quick look before handing your content over to Bluesky.
Mashable has reached out to Bluesky’s CEO for comment and will update if we hear back.
At Ikaroa, we understand the importance of transparency in terms of using the services we provide. This is why we strongly encourage everyone who wants to try Bluesky to look carefully at the terms of service before committing.
By taking the time to read the terms of service, you are ensuring that you know all of the rules and regulations about using Bluesky, which can help avoid potential lawsuits or breaches of your agreement. For example, the terms of service may outline the exact features included in the service, and the specific ways in which Bluesky can be used. This is important to ensure that you are not in breach of any of the rules set out.
It is also important to look out for any additional fees outlined in the terms of service. It is important to know the additional expenses that may be incurred while using Bluesky, as these might significantly affect your budget. The terms of service may also include information on exactly how much you will be charged per month, what conditions must be met in order to receive an invoice, and information on cancellations or refunds.
Above all else, when you look closely at the terms of service for Bluesky, you are ensuring that you are not agreeing to any unethical practices or unfair agreements. It is imperative that you have a clear understanding of what is included in the terms of service, so you can use Bluesky without worry.
At Ikaroa, we strive to provide our customers with the best services and solutions possible. That is why we advise everyone who wants to try out Bluesky to look closely at the terms of service before committing, so that you can make sure you are abiding by all the appropriate regulations.