Damus, one of the fastest-growing Twitter alternatives, has been pulled from China’s App Store just two days after the app was approved by Apple.
The app, which is based on the Jack Dorsey-backed decentralized social networking protocol Nostr, was removed from the China App Store per request by the country’s top internet watchdog because it “includes content that is illegal in China,” according to the app review notice 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 the app approval process difficult at first, as Apple requires apps to have a system for flagging abuse and other content monitoring mechanism, but Damus eventually worked out a way to get listed in the Apple App Store on February 1.
The decentralized nature of the app no doubt led to its short-lived debut in China where information is under tight control by the government. Social networks legally operating in China all have installed censorship mechanisms to root out illegal content or information banned by the authorities. Anonymity is non-existent as signups are linked to people’s real identities.
The authority has cut off Damus’ distribution in the country through App Store — Google Play is unavailable in China and in place is a handful of domestic third-party Android stores that are often out of reach for foreign developers. But it looks like access is so far intact. Those already with the app on their phones can still view and comment on posts without having to circumvent the Great Firewall, the country’s censorship system to block or slow down foreign websites, as of Feb 3.
Nostr is built to be censorship-resistant through “relays”, a type of network responsible for receiving posts and distributing them to relay participants.
This is a developing story…
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