The App Store now offers another decentralized social networking app that can compete with Twitter. The development of Nostr, an open and decentralized social networking system based on cryptographic key pairs, was funded by a donation of around $245,000 in bitcoin (then about 14 BTC) by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey last year. With the release of the first app on the App Store to use the protocol, Damus, anybody may experiment with cutting-edge technology.
Because of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, many users have returned to older applications like Tumblr or experimented with alternative decentralized social networking sites like Mastodon, and this new app is only the latest of many Twitter competitors to emerge in response. T2 and Spill are just two examples of Twitter-like businesses that have recently raised seed funding.
To be clear, Damus is not a business funded by venture capital. On the contrary, it’s another attempt at decentralized social networking. The promise of this software is an open social network, free from the kind of censorship and control exercised by platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Instead, “you are in charge” and “there is no platform that can prohibit or restrict you,” as states on the app’s main page. Your data is yours to manage at all times,” it says.
In light of user concerns after Musk’s takeover, the site also promotes end-to-end encrypted communications. Because of how the Nostr operates, there is also no need to provide personal information such as a phone number, email address, or name. Mastodon is distinct in that each user has an account on a certain server, and those administrators may exercise some authority over the members of their server. This also implies that your ability to access the network may be affected by problems with the Mastodon server you are using, such as an outage. In the event of an unexpected or prolonged outage, data may be lost.
Nostr is an abbreviation for “Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays,” and it describes how communications are relayed over Damus. Although federated servers aren’t used, it has been stated that some Nostr relays are more effective at blocking unwanted messages.
Tipping friends’ posts with Bitcoin is one example of how Bitcoin is integrated into the Damus experience. The Lightning Network in Bitcoin allows for this to occur. It also allows for longer postings than Twitter’s 280 character limit.
Cointelegraph reports that Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum; Edward Snowden, whistleblower; and Cynthia Lummis, pro-crypto U.S. senator; were among the early testers of Nostr.
Damus’s decentralised structure initially slowed its progress through Apple’s App Review, as the company demanded that the app adhere to the same standards as any other social network, such as allowing users to report inappropriate material and outlining clearly that abuse is not tolerated. Despite Damus’ assertions that it had addressed Apple’s concerns, the company’s official Twitter feed reported earlier that the app was being continuously denied.
But as Damus tweeted yesterday, everything changed after the app was given the go light. At the time of this writing, the account had 17.7K followers, so even if all of Damus’ prospective users left Twitter, it wouldn’t have a huge impact on Twitter’s user base. However, the Nostr website indicates that Damus is only one of numerous ongoing initiatives.
Dorsey tweeted on the release of the Damus app, praising it as “a milestone for open protocols.”
Meanwhile, the ex-Twitter executive has been hard at work on Bluesky, a new decentralised social network running on the AT protocol, which will soon go live in a client app that looks quite similar to Twitter. Mastodon, however, is employing an older protocol called ActivityPub, despite its rising popularity since Musk’s purchase. The founder of Tumblr has hinted that the platform could one day support ActivityPub as well. However, until Bluesky or Mastodon decide to adopt the other’s protocol, they will be unable to communicate with one another. With the addition of Damus’ open protocol, the new war between Twitter’s competitors has shifted focus from Silicon Valley firms to the underlying infrastructure of social media.
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