Decentralized social networking app Damus has received a warning from Apple’s App Store, stating that it has 14 days to bring its tipping feature into compliance or face removal from the platform. The feature, called “zaps,” enables users to send Bitcoin tips to content creators via the Lightning Network. However, Apple claims the feature violates its terms by not using the in-app purchase mechanism. Damus has until June 27 to comply with Apple’s requirements.
Damus expressed surprise at the timing of the warning, as the team is scheduled to speak at Oslo’s Freedom Forum about how Bitcoin and decentralized social media can promote financial freedom. The app developer argued that Apple’s reasoning revolves around content creators’ potential use of zaps to sell digital content, a claim they refute. The move threatens any app on the App Store that interacts with Lightning Network, as it may be subject to the same reasoning.
Concerns raised over Apple’s policy and potential bias toward Silicon Valley
Apple’s clash with emerging technology is not new. Last year, the tech giant began charging a 30% commission on in-app NFT sales, leading to criticism from industry figures. This year, Apple’s 30% cut came under scrutiny again, this time in relation to OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot. While some companies choose to comply with Apple’s terms, legal challenges have been raised against the tech giant’s 30% tax. Although a federal appeals court ruled that Apple did not breach U.S. antitrust laws, both Epic Games and Apple have requested a reconsideration of the ruling.
The warning letter to Damus reflects Apple’s policy against tipping features that deviate from in-app purchases. Damus clarified that it does not sell digital goods but provides a peer-to-peer tipping feature similar to Venmo or Cash App. The discrepancy between Apple’s acceptance of Bitcoin tipping in the past, as seen with the “Game of Birds” app, and its current stance on Damus has raised questions among crypto proponents. Critics accuse Apple of protecting Silicon Valley’s interests and wrongly penalizing Damus for a feature that does not involve the sale of digital content.