Damus, a client app for decentralized social networking app Nostr, backed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, is set to be removed from the App Store due to Apple’s strict payment rules.
Apple has a long-standing policy of prohibiting developers from selling additional in-app content unless the transactions are processed through Apple, which takes a 30% cut. To circumvent a ban, the Damus team had to modify the app’s tipping feature, which operates via Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. The team had to remove the tips button from posts and only allow tips on profiles.
As TechCrunch reported on 1 February 2023, 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.
The Damus app was first released on the iOS App Store on 31 January 2023:
On June 26, 2023, the Damus team expressed their frustration on Twitter, stating that they were facing removal from the App Store despite making it clear that no digital content is unlocked when users are tipped. They argued that the idea of content being sold was unfounded and announced plans to file an appeal against what they believe is a misapplication of the guidelines.
The following day, the Damus team tweeted again, sarcastically suggesting they would use Apple Pay when it supports censorship-resistant, peer-to-peer payments to anyone in the world. They urged Apple to start with peer-to-peer payments first. In a public display of support for Damus, Jack Dorsey took to Twitter to directly question Apple CEO Tim Cook, asking, “Why doesn’t Apple Pay support bitcoin?”
Shortly after, Dorsey tweeted again, expressing his disappointment over Damus’s removal from the App Store for enabling global tipping without needing a bank, payment card, or government permission.