Apple yanks Twitter-like app from the App Store citing Chinese demands

App Store on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

Apple has removed a social media app from its Chinese App Store following demands by the local government.

Damus, an app designed to access the Nostr social media network, had already struggled to get into the App Store in the first place following rejections by App Store review. But a demand from the Chinese government means the app has now been removed from the App Store in that country.

Apple says that the app includes content that is illegal in the country.

Illegal content

Damus developer William Casarin shared a screenshot of a letter he received from Apple that explains the decision. Casarin posted the email to Twitter, as spotted by TechCrunch.

"We are writing to notify you that your application, per demand from the CAC (Cyberspace Administration of China), will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines," the email says.

The email continues, adding that "according to the CAC, your app violates the Provisions on the Security Assessment of Internet-based Information Services with Attribute of Public Opinions or Capable of Social Mobilization."

See more

What's particularly interesting here is that the app does little more than act as a client browser, similar to a web browser like Google Chrome or Apple's own Safari.

Nostr is a "decentralized network based on cryptographic keypairs, and that is not peer-to-peer," the project's web page says. Most notably, content shared isn't owned or hosted by anyone, unlike a traditional social network like Twitter or Facebook.

However, it's a little surprising that the Chinese government would be concerned about an app like that. This is because it likes to control the information moving around the Chinese internet, which it cannot do with apps and networks such as Damus and Nostr.

As a result, Chinese users who want to discuss anything from the best iPhone — the iPhone 14 Pro Max — to what they're having for breakfast must use apps and social networks approved by the CAC.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.