Jack Dorsey-Based Social Network Nostr's Damus App Banned From China App Store

A notification from Apple says Damus “includes content that is illegal in China.”

AccessTimeIconFeb 3, 2023 at 7:03 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:07 a.m. UTC

Damus, a Twitter alternative backed by Jack Dorsey that integrates the Bitcoin Lightning Network, has been banned from Apple’s China App Store, according to a tweet by Damus.

According to a notification from Apple received from Apple, the Cyberspace Administration of China deemed the app “includes content that is illegal in China” because its an “Information Services with Attribute of Public Opinions or Capable of Social Mobilization.”

Damus, the app, lives on top of Nostr, a decentralized social network that bills itself as “censorship resistant.” Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is backing the development of Nostr with a donation of 14 BTC (worth $245,000 at the time of donation).

Even getting Damus listed in Apple’s global App Store proved difficult for the company, as its decentralized nature means there is no moderation of content. The app was rejected multiple times by Apple, according to tweets by Damus, because Apple requires apps to have a mechanism for users to flag objectionable content and block abusive users.

In China, any online platform listed in an online marketplace or accessible by users in-country requires an Internet Content Provider (ICP) license.

As part of the rules, ICP-licensed entities are prohibited from publishing content that “opposes the basic principles determined in the constitution of China”, “damages the honor and interests of the nation”, and “disseminates rumors, disrupts the social order or undermines the social stability,” amongst other things.

The inclusion of support for the Bitcoin Lightning Network is another reason why authorities don’t look kindly on the project because crypto is banned within the country.

ICP-licensed entities are also required to maintain real-name information and IP addresses of those posting and producing content, while providing them to authorities upon request.

In addition, China has a ban on foreign investment in any internet news information service.

Will this change anything?

Despite China’s "great firewall," there are hundreds of thousands of people who reside in the country active on Western social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter thanks to the wide availability of Virtual Private Network (VPN) services.

Members of the crypto community based in China who spoke to CoinDesk say the impact of this ban won’t make much of an impact because many Chinese use VPNs and have their phone’s App Store set to the U.S. or Hong Kong marketplaces.

Part of Damus’ popularity, according to one person, involves the perception that a sort of airdrop is coming to early users, especially those who sign up a lot of new users via their referral code.

This ban on Damus won’t do much, one said, because technically crypto is banned in China but is as popular as ever.


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