Damus, one of many fastest-growing Twitter options, has been pulled from China’s App Retailer simply two days after the app was accepted by Apple.
The app, which runs atop the Jack Dorsey-backed decentralized social networking protocol Nostr, was faraway from the China App Retailer per request by the nation’s prime web watchdog as a result of it “contains content material that’s unlawful in China,” in line with an app overview discover Damus acquired and shared on Twitter.
Being decentralized means there isn’t any central authority that decides who can take part or say what on the platform. That made Damu’s approval course of tough at first, as Apple requires companies to have a mechanism for flagging objectional content material, however Damus ultimately labored out a solution to get listed in Apple’s App Store on February 1.
The decentralized nature of the app little doubt led to its short-lived debut in China the place info is below tight management by the federal government. Social networks legally working in China all have censorship instruments baked in to eradicate unlawful content material or info banned by the authority. Anonymity is non-existent as consumer signups are linked to individuals’s actual identities.
The authority has minimize off Damus’ distribution within the nation via App Retailer — Google Play is unavailable in China and in place is a handful of home third-party Android shops which are typically out of attain for international builders. However it seems like entry is thus far intact. These already with Damus on their telephones can nonetheless view and touch upon posts with out having to bypass the Nice Firewall, the nation’s censorship system that blocks or slows down sure international web sites, as of Feb 3.
Nostr is constructed to be censorship-resistant via “relays”, a sort of community chargeable for receiving posts and distributing them to community contributors. Customers can publish their posts to a number of relays, they usually solely see content material within the relays they hook up with. So if one relay is censored, they will publish their content material via one other. However having competing networks additionally undermines the platform’s community results, that means Damus isn’t actually a really perfect Twitter alternative.
“It’s extra like a information group, curiosity group or followers membership sort of factor,” says Frank Hu, COO at ByteTrade Lab, a web3 infrastructure startup backed by SIG Asia Enterprise Capital Fund.
“Customers can select relays and have to obey the codes there. Relays compete and relay house owners additionally compete. Primarily based on this competitors, builders can construct completely different communities — paid or free, censored or censorship-free, focusing on followers of influencers or pornstars. It’s a relay-based free market.”
Is there a solution to block each single relay? Hu reckons that censoring Damus, which is run on “a number of centralized servers” relatively than a “totally decentralized” infrastructure, can be difficult. “It now has about 300 relays and other people could make self-hosted relays, so it’s fairly tough to close it down.”
It is going to be fascinating to see how the app’s utilization evolves in China over the subsequent few weeks.
This can be a growing story…
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