Apple wants to remove an app for a Bitcoin-related feature

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The Damus app could be removed from Apple’s app store because of a Bitcoin-related feature. 

It is the Zaps feature of Damus. 

Apple: the Damus app and the link to Bitcoin

Damus is a social network created on Nostr, the decentralized protocol for creating social networks. 

Damus is therefore built on open Internet protocols, so that nothing and no one can ban or censor its use.

In addition, it is encrypted and allows users to maintain full control of their data and voice. 

It does not even require registration to be used, and creating an account does not require phone numbers, e-mails, or revealing one’s identity. 

It is not even based on a central server, because messages are distributed over a decentralized network. What’s more, it is also programmable and integrates bots to automate activity. 

Zaps

Because it is based on Nostr, it also integrates the protocol’s Zaps feature, which is one that sends tips via Lightning Network with virtually no transaction costs. 

In fact Zaps is the main method by which funds are transferred in Nostr notes. 

It is sufficient to have a Zaps-compatible wallet, such as Wallet of Satoshi, and a client that has implemented the function, such as Damus.

This means that through Zaps you actually send Bitcoin (BTS), in the form of Satoshi (Sat). Satoshis are nothing more than the smallest fractions of Bitcoin, equal to one hundred millionth of a BTC. 

So Zaps allows the sending and receiving of Bitcoin, although these are generally transactions of very small amounts. 

Unfortunately, Apple just does not seem to like this feature. 

The problem with Apple and the use of Bitcoin

The problem was highlighted by the Damus team itself on Twitter. 

In fact, today they revealed that they have received an app review from Apple regarding version 1.4.3 of their iOS app. 

In fact, the app would not comply with the App Store’s guidelines, particularly those regarding payments for in-app purchases. 

The objection raised by Apple specifically concerns the tips that can be sent on Damus using the Zaps feature, i.e., transactions in Satoshi (Bitcoin).

Specifically, the violation concerns the use of tips to pay for in-app purchases of digital content. 

However, it is not clear what this violation is in detail, and more importantly why this behavior is considered prohibited. 

The Damus issue writes that the app will be removed from the app store in 14 days, due to the fact that Apple bans tips because they could be used by content creators to sell digital content. 

They then comment, saying: 

“This would be a watershed moment: If people can’t transact freely p2p on their platform, this has huge implications for the entire ecosystem of apps with lightning integration and v4v.”

What Bitcoin has to do with it

Bitcoin as a currency apparently has nothing to do with the violation alleged against Damus. However, it probably has something to do with the fact that transactions via LN are neither traceable nor censorable. 

The real problem seems to be trivially due to the sale of digital content, since if paid for via LN they are absolutely uncensurable. 

What one struggles to understand is why Apple does not want to allow Damus users to sell digital content via this app. 

Besides, it would not be Damus that would be selling that content, only their users, and, as the team behind this social network points out, the tips feature is there in other apps, such as Venmo or CashApp.

Moreover, there is also a similar feature on Twitter, and Twitter is a social network like Damus. Why does Apple tolerate tips on the Twitter app and not on the Damus app? 

It is possible that the underlying problem is just the anonymity and non-tracking of transactions via LN. 

Damus will be forced to remove the Zaps feature in order to continue to have a presence in the app store.