Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Damus Zaps vs. the App Store

Sarah Perez:

Another decentralized social networking application to challenge Twitter has hit the App Store. Last year, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey donated around $245,000 in bitcoin (then roughly 14 BTC) to fund the development of an open and decentralized social networking protocol known as Nostr, which is based on cryptographic key pairs. Now, the first mobile app to leverage the protocol, Damus, has been published on the App Store, allowing anyone to try out the new technology.


The site also touts end-to-end encrypted messaging — something Twitter does not have, and which has concerned users in the wake of the Musk takeover. There’s also no requirement to sign up with a phone number, email, or name because of how the Nostr works.


Bitcoin integration is also a part of the Damus experience, allowing users to tip friends’ posts, for instance. This is made possible by way of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network.


Damus’s decentralized nature presented a problem for getting through App Review at first, as Apple kept asking the app to follow the same rules as any other social network — like providing a way for users to flag objectionable content, and having a policy that makes it clear abuse is not allowed. The Damus Twitter account had earlier tweeted the app was being rejected repeatedly, despite its claims that it had resolved the issues Apple raised.

I still think these rules are extremely unclear and not consistently enforced.


Damus will be removed from the app store in 14 days, apple says zaps are not allowed on their platform because they could be used by content creators to sell digital content.

Via Tim Sweeney:

Apple is coming for money transfer and funding apps like Damus, Patreon, Venmo, maybe PayPal and Stripe. If digital goods may be somehow involved in the transfer, now they want 30%. If Apple can tax this, they can tax digital banking, payroll, and anything else.

Jonathan Vanian and MacKenzie Sigalos:

Apple later reneged on its threat, but only if Damus agreed to remove certain payments functionality.

The move could stall one plan to ease the use of bitcoin and turn it into a more convenient transnational digital currency.


“Only zaps on profiles are allowed,” Damus said in the tweet. “This cripples damus pretty bad, but you can still zap at least.”


Dorsey tweeted his displeasure against Apple saying that “Tipping on posts is not selling digital content. It’s a form of feedback.”

And it’s allowed with WeChat?


Update (2023-06-26): Damus (via Hacker News):

Looks like we are getting removed from the appstore even after updating our app to make it clear that no digital content is getting unlocked when users are tipped. Users are only ever tipped after posts are made, the idea that content is being sold is nonsense. We will be filing an appeal as this guideline is clearly being abused and misapplied.

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