Home Technology Damus pulled out of Apple’s App Store in China after two days • businessroundups.org

Damus pulled out of Apple’s App Store in China after two days • businessroundups.org

by Ana Lopez
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Damus, one of the fastest growing Twitter alternatives, has been pulled from the Chinese App Store just two days after the app was approved by Apple.

The app, which runs on top of the Jack Dorsey-backed decentralized social networking protocol Nostr, was removed from China’s App Store at the request of the country’s largest internet watchdog because it “contains content that is illegal in China,” according to an app review post Damus received and shared on Twitter.

Being decentralized means there is no central authority that decides who can participate or say what on the platform. That made Damu’s approval process difficult at first, as Apple requires services to have a mechanism to flag objectionable content, but eventually Damus figured out a way to be listed on Apple’s App Store on Feb. 1.

The decentralized nature of the app has undoubtedly led to its short-lived debut in China, where information is tightly controlled by the government. Social networks operating legally in China all have built-in censorship tools to remove illegal content or information prohibited by the authority. Anonymity does not exist, because user logins are tied to people’s real identities.

The authority has stopped distribution of Damus in the country through the App Store – Google Play is not available in China and there are a handful of third-party domestic Android stores that are often out of reach for foreign developers. But it seems that access is intact so far. Those who already have Damus on their phones will still be able to view and respond to messages from February 3 without having to circumvent the Great Firewall, the country’s censorship system that blocks or slows down certain foreign websites.

Nostr is built to be censorship resistant through “relays”, a type of network responsible for receiving messages and distributing them to network participants. Users can publish their messages to multiple relays and they will only see content in the relays they connect to. So if one relay gets censored, they can post their content through another. But having competing networks also undermines the platform’s network effects, meaning Damus isn’t exactly an ideal Twitter replacement.

“It’s more like a newsgroup, interest group, or fans club,” said Frank Hu, COO at ByteTrade Laba web3 infrastructure startup backed by SIG Asia Venture Capital Fund.

“Users can choose relays and must adhere to the codes there. Relays compete and relay owners also participate. Based on this competition, builders can build different communities – paid or free, censored or censor-free, targeting fans of influencers or porn stars. It is a relay-based free market.”

Is there a way to block each relay? Hu thinks it will be challenging to censor Damus, which runs on “multiple centralized servers” rather than a “fully decentralized” infrastructure. “It has about 300 relays now, and people can make self-hosted relays, so it’s pretty hard to take it out.”

It will be interesting to see how the use of the app develops in China in the coming weeks.

This is an evolving story…

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