Decentralized social networking app Damus to be removed from App Store, will appeal decision

Image credits: Damus

Damus, a decentralized social networking app backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, will be removed from the App Store due to Apple’s strict payment rules. Apple threatened to remove Damus earlier this month over its app recommendations feature, claiming it could be used by content creators to sell digital content on the platform.

The tech giant has a long history of prohibiting developers from selling additional in-app content unless the transactions go through Apple, which calls for a 30% cut. To avoid a ban, the team behind Damus had to change the app flip feature, made possible through Bitcoins Lightning Network. The company has previously explained in a chirp which was to remove the suggestions button from posts and was only allowed to allow suggestions on profiles.

Despite the changes, Damus revealed on Monday that its app will be removed from the App Store. The company has shared a screenshot of Apple’s review notes, which states that the app suggestions feature still doesn’t meet its guidelines. The tech giant wrote that while tips or donations may be optional, if they are connected or associated with receiving digital content, they must use the in-app purchase in accordance with its guidelines.

An Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch in an email that the company rejected the app after receiving Damus’ latest submission, noting that the issues it previously outlined were unresolved.

Damus plans to file an appeal to challenge Apple’s decision.

It looks like we will also be removed from the App Store after we update our app to clarify that no digital content is unlocked when users are tipped, wrote Damus a chirp. Users are only tipped after posts have been published, the idea that content is being sold is nonsense. We will be filing an appeal as this guideline is clearly being abused and misapplied.

Last year, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey donated about $245,000 in bitcoin (then about 14 BTC) to fund the development of an open, decentralized social networking protocol known as Nostr, which relies on key pairs cryptographic. Damus is the first mobile app to take advantage of the protocol. Dorsey reacted to Apple’s decision in a tweet on Monday, outlining that hints do not unlock the content.

Damus hit the App Store in February and was one of several Twitter rivals that emerged after Elon Musk’s takeover of the social network, which prompted Twitter users to try decentralized social networking services, such as Mastodon. Damus has seen around 255,000 downloads globally on iOS since its release, according to mobile analytics firm

The promise of the app is an open social network without a central authority that makes decisions about the contents of the network or who is allowed to participate, as Facebook or Twitter do. Damus has end-to-end encrypted messaging and does not require users to register with a phone number, email or name due to how Nostr.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Damus has had problems with Apple. Damus faced some issues during the app’s review process due to its decentralized nature, as Apple had kept asking the app to follow the same rules as any other social network, such as providing users with a way to report content questionable and have a policy that makes it clear that abuse is not allowed.

The company previously said the app had been rejected several times, despite making changes to adhere to the tech giants’ guidelines. That changed in February when the app was finally approved.

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