Bluesky and Mastodon users can now talk to each other with Bridgy Fed

Bluesky and Mastodon users can now talk to each other with Bridgy Fed

An important step toward a more interoperable “fediverse” — the broader network of decentralized social media apps like Mastodon, Bluesky and others — has been achieved. Now, users on decentralized apps like Mastodon, powered by the ActivityPub protocol, and those powered by Bluesky’s AT Protocol, can easily follow people on other networks, see their posts, as well as like, reply and repost them.

Those same people will be able to see the others’ posts in return, too.

The technology making this possible is Bridgy Fed, one of the efforts aimed at connecting the fediverse with the web, Bluesky and, perhaps later, other networks like Nostr.

Since the 2022 sale of Twitter to Elon Musk, who rebranded the app X, there’s been a surge of interest in decentralized social media. Apps like Mastodon gained a following in the wake of Twitter’s new ownership, as users explored what a network without a centralized authority may look like. Meanwhile, Bluesky — a startup originally incubated within Twitter — raised a seed round and grew its network to over 5.7 million users after launching publicly earlier this year.

Other decentralized social media networks are finding footing of their own, too, like the blockchain-based Farcaster, which just last month closed on $150 million in funding from Paradigm, a16z crypto, Haun Ventures, USV and others.

There’s just one problem these networks face in gaining traction against a rival like X or Meta’s Threads: Their users couldn’t talk to each other.

Though both Mastodon and Bluesky are decentralized social media efforts, they rely on different underlying protocols. That means a Mastodon user can interact with others who post elsewhere on the fediverse — that is, other apps that use the older ActivityPub social networking protocol. But they couldn’t interact with people who posted on Bluesky, because it uses the newer AT Protocol to operate.

Software developer Ryan Barrett has been working to address this problem with Bridgy Fed, a social networking bridge that would connect fediverse users to those on Bluesky and vice versa.

Though the matter was originally fraught with debate over the bridge’s planned opt-out nature, Barrett listened to the community feedback and made the bridge opt-in on both sides for the time being.

That could shift in the future, however, to becoming opt-out for Bluesky users only. “The norms and expectations there are somewhat different than in the fediverse,” he told TechCrunch.

Bridgy Fed itself soft-launched in mid-April and transitioned to a full launch over the past month. It’s now one of many different efforts to bridge networks in the fediverse, in addition to Sasquatch, pinhole, RSS Parrot, mostr.pub and SkyBridge, though many are not as fully bidirectional as Bridgy is.

How to use Bridgy Fed

Using Bridgy Fed is fairly easy. It only works with public accounts and public posts, for starters, so there’s no concern about your private or followers-only posts being replicated elsewhere.

To bridge an account from the fediverse to Bluesky, you simply follow the Mastodon account @[email protected]. The account will follow you back. You’ll then automatically have a new, bridged account available to Bluesky users under your fediverse/Mastodon handle (where the second @ is now a dot) followed by “ap.brid.gy.”

For example, if my Mastodon account is @[email protected] then my bridged account is @sarahp.mastodon.social.ap.brid.gy.

(OK, sure it’s a lot of letters, but it works!)

Image Credits: Bluesky screenshot of bridged account

On the flip side, if you want to bridge your Bluesky account to the fediverse, then you’ll follow the @ap.brid.gy account on Bluesky. Similarly, you’ll then be provided with a bridged version of your Bluesky account in the fediverse. In this case, the format is @[handle]@bsky.brid.gy.

So if my Bluesky account is @[email protected], then my bridged account is @[email protected]. It will also be labeled as an “automated” account on Mastodon, as well, so people know it’s a bridged account.

Anything from your Bluesky account that interacts with fediverse users will be bridged, including replies, @-mentions, likes, reports, and, if you have fediverse followers, your own Bluesky posts. The same is true for the reverse.

This is different from cross-posting, to be clear, where you post once using software that then publishes it to all your connected accounts. Instead, it’s more like setting up a mirror of your feed on another platform. This could help you reach more people as you’ll be able to engage with people on a different social network.

The fediverse-to-Bluesky bridge (and vice versa) are both still in early beta testing, so you will likely come across issues, bugs, downtime and other problems for now.

Barrett says he has more plans ahead for Bridgy Fed, too, including the launch of a prompt to make it discoverable. “When you try to follow someone who isn’t yet bridged, it will send them a DM to ask them to opt in. I’m waiting on Bluesky’s upcoming OAuth support for that,” he notes.

The bridge currently works with fediverse servers like Mastodon, Friendica, Misskey, PeerTube, Hubzilla and others, as well as Bluesky and your own website. Later, it plans to incorporate Nostr support into its bridge as well — a decentralized social service now favored by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey.

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