Elon Musk fires back at Apple over bitcoin app removal

In a fiery Twitter exchange that took place recently, tech titan Elon Musk responded to the imminent removal of the bitcoin (BTC) tipping app Damus from Apple’s App Store.

The social media platform Damus, backed by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, received a warning from Apple to fall in line with the company’s guidelines or face expulsion. Musk’s response on his Twitter criticizes Apple:

Apple’s guideline skirmish with Damus

The catalyst for this exchange was an announcement by Damus that Apple had warned the app of its potential removal from the App Store. In an email, Apple indicated that the app’s version 1.4.3 did not meet the review guidelines.

More specifically, the issue appears to be with Damus’s tipping function, which allows users to send “tips” to digital content creators via a mechanism “other than in-app purchase.”

Damus, an app that operates on the Nostr platform, is a foray into decentralized social networking. It provides a forum where users can share content without being dictated by a central authority, such as Facebook or Twitter.

In contrast to typical startups, Damus is an exploration into decentralized social networking rather than a traditional business venture. In this open social network, users can participate freely, and the app also includes a feature that enables users to send tips, much like Venmo or CashApp.

In response to Apple’s warning, Damus clarified via a June 13 Tweet that it does not involve the sale of digital goods nor offer features for selling such goods. Instead, it provides a tip button to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions.

Decoding the decentralized networking

Damus, backed by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, operates on the Nostr platform. Launched in February, this platform supports a decentralized social network protocol. Dorsey, a notable proponent of decentralization and bitcoin, expressed his support for Damus on Twitter, stating:

“This seems to be a misunderstanding by Apple. It’s a critical part of the future of the internet.”

Jack Dorsey, former Twitter CEO

A decentralized network distributes the workload among multiple points or nodes rather than relying on a central hub. This provides greater security and resistance to censorship, as there is no single point of failure. In the case of Damus, this network is used to host a social media platform where users can tip each other with bitcoin.

A game changer for open protocols

When the Damus app was first approved for the App Store in late January 2023, it was hailed as a breakthrough for open protocols. Both Dorsey and Damus celebrated the approval, viewing it as a significant step toward greater acceptance and usage of decentralized networks and cryptocurrencies.

However, the recent move by Apple puts this progress in jeopardy. If Damus were removed from the App Store, it could become a “dead platform for bitcoin applications trying to innovate on lightning,” the company says. This controversy has spotlighted the ongoing clash between big tech firms and crypto-based platforms, raising the question of how these new technologies should be governed.

For now, all eyes are on Apple’s next move. Whether the tech giant will reconsider could set a precedent for how decentralized applications and cryptocurrencies are treated in the digital marketplace. As the debate continues, one thing is clear – the future of the internet hangs in the balance.


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