Just two days after its global launch, Damus, a decentralized Twitter alternative backed by Jack Dorsey, was removed from China’s version of Apple’s App Store. The move was made by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) due to alleged violations of national speech laws. Apple promptly complied with the request.
Damus is built on top of Nostr, a decentralized social media protocol favored by Dorsey, who donated 14 BTC to fund its development. Nostr is an open-source protocol that aims to be the foundation of a global, decentralized, and censorship-resistant social network.
While Apple, at the behest of national governments, can ban apps built on Nostr like Damus, no entity is able to censor Nostr itself. That selling point is the main reason free speech proponents like Dorsey have so vocally supported the protocol.Nostr spokesperson
Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and ex-CEO of Twitter, has been a strong advocate for the proliferation of censorship-resistant social media platforms. In 2019, while serving as Twitter’s CEO, he funded a small team to create a decentralized social media protocol. He even implored Elon Musk, during the acquisition of Twitter, to transition the app to an “open source protocol, funded by a foundation.”
However, the reality of censorship-resistant social media still faces many challenges, as the ban of Damus in China shows. Despite its removal from the App Store in China, the potential of Nostr and its decentralized social media apps remains a beacon of hope for free speech advocates.
“Damus is just one of several projects currently being built atop Nostr,” the Nostr spokesperson added. “Other projects built atop the protocol include a Telegram replacement and a chess app.” These projects demonstrate the versatility of Nostr and its potential to provide a censorship-resistant platform for various use cases beyond social media.
Nostr’s decentralized nature makes it immune to censorship and interference by any single entity. The protocol is maintained by a network of nodes, with each node having a copy of the data and the ability to validate transactions. This eliminates the need for a central authority and provides a tamper-proof environment for users to express their thoughts and ideas.
Despite its removal from the App Store in China, Damus remains available for download on other app stores, and its developers are already working on a new version that complies with Chinese laws. The ban of Damus in China only highlights the importance of decentralized social media and the need for platforms that promote freedom of expression.
This ban serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggles for free speech and the need for decentralized social media platforms that protect the rights of users. Jack Dorsey’s vision of a censorship-resistant social media network through Nostr remains a crucial step towards a more democratic and inclusive online community.