In a two-week-long battle, Damus, a Twitter-like app popular among Bitcoin enthusiasts, successfully retained its place in the Apple App Store. The conflict began on June 13 when Apple threatened to remove Damus due to alleged violations of the company’s in-app purchase guidelines. The app enabled users to send tips or “zaps” using Bitcoin instead of Apple Pay, which sparked the controversy.
On June 27, reports emerged stating that Apple planned to remove Damus from the App Store, citing violations of in-app purchase guidelines. Damus founder, William Casarin, announced this decision via Twitter on Monday, intensifying concerns among Bitcoiners who valued the app’s decentralized social media platform running on the Nostr protocol.
Damus leverages the Nostr protocol, which is favored by Bitcoin enthusiasts due to its compatibility with Lightning Network payments. The Lightning Network is Bitcoin’s second-layer payment network designed to facilitate faster and more affordable transactions. Damus’ feature called “zaps” allowed users to tip content creators using small amounts of bitcoin via the Lightning Network, similar to Twitter’s tipping feature.
Apple claimed that Damus violated its App Store Review Guidelines by enabling users to send tips in connection with digital content within the app. Apple considered this equivalent to selling digital content, leading to the threat of delisting. As a response, Damus made modifications to its app, removing zaps on posts while still allowing users to send zaps at the profile level.
The Bitcoin community, including former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, criticized Apple for hindering Bitcoin adoption through its stringent guidelines for Bitcoin-friendly applications. Dorsey, now heading the Bitcoin-focused financial services firm Block, directly addressed Apple CEO via Twitter. Dorsey tweeted at Apple CEO Tim Cook: “Why doesn’t Apple Pay support bitcoin @tim_cook?”
Despite the compromise to restrict zaps to profiles, the approval of Damus in the App Store was seen as a small victory by its supporters. They emphasized the significance of the concept of zaps and its potential to revolutionize social media in the medium term. While Damus creator William Casarin expressed frustration with Apple’s review process, he has already moved on to adding new features to the app after reaching a compromise with the tech giant.
The battle between Damus and Apple over the inclusion of Bitcoin-friendly features in the social media app has come to a favorable resolution. Damus’ victory in retaining its place in the Apple App Store marks an important milestone for the Bitcoin community.
Despite the compromises made, the concept of zaps, which enables Lightning Network-based microtransactions, holds great potential to transform social media platforms. This development highlights the ongoing struggle for wider Bitcoin adoption and the need for tech giants like Apple to embrace the opportunities presented by cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.