Featured February 3, 2023
Twitter-Like Privacy App Damus Banned in China 48hrs After Apple App Store Approval
Damus, a Twitter-like client app built to be compliant with the decentralized protocol Nostr, was banned in China for publishing “illegal content” just 48 hours after it became available for download on the Apple App Store.
Damus announced the App Store approval on Twitter on Jan. 31. The app has created a lot of excitement among crypto and privacy die-hards on social media, thanks to its promises of privacy, decentralization, and censorship resistance.
Also read: Social Networks Truth Social and Parler See Big Jump in Web Traffic
Jack Dorsey, the Twitter cofounder who backed Nostr with a donation of $240, 000 in Bitcoin, described the launch of the application as “a milestone for open protocols.” Nostr is already available for android devices on the Google Play Store, via the Amethyst app.
The latest approval means that Damus, which quickly rose to number 10 on the list of most downloaded apps on the Apple App Store, is now available as an app to users of iOS devices such as iPhone and Mac computers.
However, authorities in China are not impressed. They banned the application hardly 48 hours after it went live on the App Store. Damus triggered huge interest among users in China, where the government maintains a chokehold on the flow of information.
As of writing, it had reached a total of nealy 8,000 downloads in mainland China, second only to the U.S. at 23,700. In Hong Kong, downloads hit 4,200, more than double those of the UK and Canada. Altogether, downloads of the app totaled 56,000 worldwide.
“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,” Apple wrote to Damus, which shared the response on Twitter.
Apple said “apps that solicit, promote, or encourage criminal or clearly reckless behavior will be rejected.” According to the CAC, Damus violates provisions of a security law on Internet-based information “with attribute of public opinions or capable of social mobilization.”
That was fast pic.twitter.com/ntt9xW3AUr
— Damus⚡️ (@damusapp) February 2, 2023
Damus will still be available in regions outside of China. Earlier on Feb. 2, Bitcoiner and Jan3 CEO Samson Mow predicted that, “Damus [is] going to be removed from iOS App Store in China soon.”
What is Nostr?
To understand Damus, it is important to first have an idea of the protocol that supports the app. As MetaNews previously reported, Nostr is an open protocol that its developers say is able to “create a censorship-resistant global ‘social’ network once and for all.”
The protocol allows users to create posts (as they would tweets), “like posts, follow someone or unfollow them, retweet/repost,” according to a post on Github. Normally the term ‘post’ or ‘note’ is used to refer to creating a post on Nostr.
Fiatjaf, the creator of Nostr, says the protocol excels at ‘broadcasting’ stuff. Besides social networking, the developer said things like forums, Reddit-like apps, prediction markets, marketplaces of physical and digital goods, and others fall into the “broadcasting” category.
– reddit-like apps
– webpage comments
– encyclopedia (like https://t.co/Fvj5kQBEkJ)
– marketplaces of physical or digital goods
– joinmarket market maker announcements
– git patches, repos and git collaboration stuff
– prediction markets / DLC oracle announcements
— fiatjaf (@fiatjaf) December 22, 2022
Nostr has been used to build a variety of applications, including a chess engine called Chesstr and a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO. Chesstr is a new virtual chessboard that allows users “to play chess with a friend anywhere in the world.”
Users of the Nostr protocol are all identified by a public key (a long list of random letters and numbers). Such as the one Jack Dorsey displays on his public profile on Twitter. Every post is signed and clients, or user-facing apps, validate the signatures. One such client is Damus.
Damus ‘your very own Twitter’, says developer
Created by Bitcoin Lightning developer William Casarin, Damus is an app for iPhone, iPad, and MacOS that implements the Nostr decentralized protocol. The app allows users to post notes, tag other users, and engage with notes by reposting, liking, or replying to them.
Damus claims to support Twitter-like social networking, as well as show messages from channels. To create an account, users do not need a phone number, email or name, it says. Messages are encrypted end-to-end and you can tip your friend’s posts with Bitcoin.
“Built on open internet protocols, there is no platform that can ban or censor you. You are in control of your data and speech,” Damus says on its website. “Messages are distributed via decentralized relays. No need to run any infrastructure and no single point of
The developer says the app is “your very own Twitter for your friends or business.” At the time of writing, however, the Web version of Damus was down “because there is someone trying to exploit browser loopholes to steal private keys.”
“I would not recommend using a web client at this time. Damus iOS is not affected,” Casarin said on the site.
“Data Not Collected. The developer does not collect any data from this app. Damus doesn’t store any information about you other than the posts which you make, which are published to the damus relay as well other relays if configured.
In contrast, the official Twitter app disclosure says the network collects data that includes things such as purchases, contact Information, browsing history, usage data, location, user content, identifiers, search history, diagnostics and other data.
Risks of decentralization
Damus’ launch on the AppStore has not been without its fair share of problems. In some geographic locations, users complained the application was not working at all.
Well, I'm on Damus since a few months and all I can say is that nothing in that app seems to work. All I get to see is this… pic.twitter.com/zva4p4gL7b
— Martin (@mbrochh) February 2, 2023
Decentralization tends to generate incredible fear, the creation of a world without authority where bad actors can carry out their nefarious activities. One Twitter user asked: How does it [Nostr] shut down accounts posting things like child porn if everyone can do what they want?
In responses, Nostr pseudonymous creator Fiatjaf, said: “There are no such thing as accounts, only keys and events. Events are published to relays. Each relay decides who and what can publish to them.”
“Relays are free to censor child porn or anything else they want. Users can choose from where to read and can easily exclude bad relays,” he added.
Nostr is one among a number of emerging decentralized social networks intent on giving users both the personal and financial freedom to act according to their conscience rather than under political instruction.
Over the years, key figures in Bitcoin and web3, entities predominantly on the receiving end of U.S. government intrusion, have either disapprovingly reassessed the monopoly of dominant social networks or started to delink their relationships.
Biden Administration Demands China’s ByteDance Sell TikTok to Avoid Ban
The U.S. government has demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners ByteDance sell their shareholding in the widely popular video sharing app – or else face a ban, according to the Wall Street Journal.
America cites “national security” as the reason for the ban. The government has for a long time raised concerns about the social media site, voicing fears that China could use the app as a tool for espionage, and to possibly influence political outcomes in the U.S.
Former U.S. president Donald Trump threatened the exact same action in 2020, but the High Court struck the executive order down. Now President Biden is taking a tougher stance after Democrats were criticized for being weak on ByteDance, the Quartz reported.
TikTok rubbishes security concerns
The demand for ByteDance founders and owners to sell their 20% stake in TikTok came from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, or CFIUS, a multi-agency federal task force responsible for national security risks in cross-border investments, per WSJ.
While the shares of Zhang Yiming, ByteDance CEO Liang Rubo, and others who helped found the company in Beijing in 2012 appear in the minority, the shareholding carries a reported “outsized” share in voting rights.
Global investors own 60% of ByteDance’s shares, and the other 20% is owned by employees. In a statement shared with Reuters news agency, TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter explained that banning the video-sharing app on national security grounds would be a farce.
“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” she said.
“The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems.”
A Mar. 16 report by The Information suggested that the Chinese government will not take the U.S. threats lying down. It said Beijing will “oppose any attempt by the Biden administration to force TikTok’s Chinese shareholders to sell their stakes.”
Banning the app everywhere
The U.S. is a key market for ByteDance, with over 100 million people using TikTok in the country. That is partly why the company has been fighting tooth and nail to remain operational in America, even as the working environment looks increasingly difficult.
TikTok pledged to spend $1.5 billion on a program to protect U.S. user data and content from Chinese government access or influence, according to industry media. The plan would seal off U.S. operations, with all data stored within the country at Oracle, the U.S. tech firm. Oracle would have access to TikTok’s “algorithmic code and flag issues for government inspectors.”
The Biden Administration is giving TikTok an ultimatum: Either sever ties with China or be banned in the U.S. @sarafischer discusses pic.twitter.com/m11X7wmWPV
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) March 16, 2023
But as MetaNews previously reported, the issue has become highly politicized. While TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is expected to testify on security issues before a House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Mar. 23, local lawmakers have already tightened their chokehold on foreign-owned tech companies.
Also read: TikTok Manipulates Own Algorithm to Promote Certain Landmarks
Earlier this month, the Biden administration endorsed proposed new legislation from about 12 senators that gives the secretary of commerce power to restrict tech firms based in six countries, namely Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, and China. The U.S. considers all these countries “adversaries.”
It isn’t only Biden who is suspicious of TikTok. The app is also facing scrutiny in Canada, the UK, New Zealand and in the European Union. On Thursday, the UK banned legislators and other public officials from hosting the app on their work devices. And over 30 U.S. states have banned TikTok from being downloaded on state devices.
Google Says AI Can’t Replace Human Ingenuity, Integrates It Into Applications
Google has integrated generative artificial intelligence (AI) into its workspace applications like Google documents, Gmail, and Slides, according to a recent statement.
Per the announcement, the workspace applications would possess similar features to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and DALL-E, alongside Stable Diffusion’s Canva.
Users of Google docs could use AI to generate, summarize and brainstorm text. AI might also be leveraged to generate full emails by writing brief bullet points. On the other hand, Slides users can tap into AI to generate images, audio, and video to enhance presentations.
Google’s Workspace vice president of products, Johanna Voolich Wright, said the product would allow:
“Workspace users to harness the power of generative AI to create, connect, and collaborate like never before.”
Google’s AI product to be available to some US testers
The product will be available to select US-based “trusted testers” later this month, while it will be rolled out for public use later this year. The firm did not provide further information on its launch timeline.
Meanwhile, Google added that the new features would help increase users’ productivity while saving them time.
“Workspace saves you the time and effort of writing that first version. Simply type a topic you’d like to write about, and a draft will instantly be generated for you. With your collaborative Al partner, you can continue to refine and edit, getting more suggestions as needed.”
Google plans to extend the product into its other applications.
Google says AI can’t replace “real people ingenuity”
Although it has talked up the advanced capabilities of its AI product, Google says generative AI cannot be a “replacement for the ingenuity, creativity, and smarts of real people.”
The company wrote that AI sometimes gets things wrong — an allusion to the tech’s costly error that shaved the company’s stock value by around $100 billion.
Due to this, the firm said its focus is on building responsible AI that keeps the users in control. Google added that the AI would only make suggestions that users can accept, edit, and change.
Also Read: Microsoft Eliminates AI Ethics and Society Team
Who is winning the AI tech race?
While Google’s previous AI strides had been fraught with issues, its technological rival Microsoft has made giant strides in developing its ChatGPT.
Previously, Microsoft revealed plans to integrate the ChatGPT program into its Office Suite packages. The firm aims to revolutionize human-machine interactions by integrating AI into its products and tools.
Microsoft has already integrated AI technology into developer tools like Azure and other products like GitHub Copilot, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft Viva Sales. The firm also credited the chatbot for the astronomic growth of its search engine, Bing.
Concerns have, however, been raised about Microsoft’s apparently waning commitment to responsible AI development: recent layoffs mean the company no longer has a dedicated team to ensure its ethical AI principles are integrated into product design.
Of course, some will argue that AI should be an ideology-free zone, after ChatGPT’s political leanings were exposed.
Bing Removes Waiting List For All AI Chatbot Users
Microsoft’s Bing Chat waitlist is gone, allowing new users who sign up to immediately access the AI powered chatbot without waiting.
The tech giant’s search engine Bing has been making its way to the spotlight after they released their ChatGPT powered chatbot Bing Chat, which was previously available to a select few after joining the waitlist.
Also read: GPT-4 is Here: What You Need to Know About OpenAI’s New ChatGPT
This doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Microsoft released the Bing Chat feature early last month, and they even added an icon on their Edge browser. However, access to the chatbot still required signing in and joining a waiting list.
Only until accepted would one have a go on the AI powered chatbot. That has not been the smoothest onboarding experience, which seems logical for Microsoft to make it easier for the market to use its new Bing.
As of Thursday, many people claimed that they were able to gain access to the chatbot soon after signing up. Windows Central, reported that multiple members of their team were able to use the chat feature instantly.
TechCrunch also tested using multiple email accounts and gained access as well with some of the emails they used. However, one still has to request to join the waitlist after signing up and if you’re as lucky you might get access instantly.
“I joined the waiting list yesterday, it was less than 2 sec long” tweeted one user identified as Khatarina.
While the company did not specify if the waitlist changes were permanent or not, Microsoft said in a statement that it is running various experiments to onboard more users.
“During this preview period, we are running various tests, which may accelerate access to the new Bing for some users. We remain in preview and you can sign up at Bing.com,” said the company.
Bing gives users a taste of ChatGPT-4
The changes in the waitlist came after Microsoft confirmed its Bing AI chatbot has been running on OpenAI’s next generation AI language model, GPT-4.
The announcement generated a lot of interest and excitement on the market at a time GPT-4 is not yet publicly available.
Microsoft invested $10 billion with OpenAI towards the ChatGPT research. They have hit the jackpot as their ChatGPT-4 powered chatbot has Bing on the map. According to Jacob Roach Microsoft Bing Chat saw about 1 million users signing up for the waiting list soon after their initial announcement.
While OpenAI is only offering their latest model ChatGPT-4 to plus members, having access to the Bing Chat gives users a taste of the new ChatGPT which is used to power Bing Chat.
However unlike OpenAI’s chatbot Bing Chat does not allow users to use both text and image as input, but unlike OpenAI Bing has access to the internet which widens the results pool.
A downside to Bing Chat is that one can only have 15 conversational interactions before clearing the chat and starting again as compared to OpenAI, which allows one to save conversation even on the free version.
Tech firms haven’t been sitting by
Microsoft endured criticism when Bing was launched last month as users felt the company had rushed to release the product. But to the company’s credit, many of the challenges the first users encountered have been fixed.
Microsoft has been working non-stop in improving service delivery by integrating AI into most of their products. Recently they added the ChatGPT powered AI bot to windows 11 task bar according to TechCrunch.
Microsoft was scheduled to hold an event ‘Reinventing Productivity With AI’ on Thursday with the company expected to show off more AI features in its Office programs like Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
The popularity of ChatGPT has also put a lot of focus on Microsoft, while other tech companies are also busy incorporating the technology into their products and services.
Google is not just sitting by watching from the terraces. The search giant announced its Bard AI chatbot in February. Google also released AI-powered tools for its suite of online apps on Tuesday, ahead of Microsoft’s announcements later in the week.
Last month, Snapchat also released its AI chatbot ‘My AI’ powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology.
India to Reportedly Crack Down on Pre-Installed Apps
US Justice Department Warns It Is Coming for AI
3 Top Headsets to Watch: Samsung XR Glasses, Meta Quest Pro, Apple Reality Pro
OpenAI Founder Still Wants Your Eyeballs for ‘Worldcoin’ Currency
Educators Remain Metaverse Positive Despite Negative Media Spin
Could Mixed Reality Solve the Metaverse’s Sickness Problem?
LinkedIn’s New AI Tool to Improve User Profiles and Job Descriptions
AITue 21 Mar 2023 17:45 GMT
Podcast Created Entirely with AI Debuts on Spotify, Apple
BusinessTue 21 Mar 2023 14:30 GMT
Security Hole Found in Google Pixel Devices: Redacted Photos Recovered
AITue 21 Mar 2023 11:00 GMT
Are Tesla Bots Already Helping to Build Cars?
Press ReleasesTue 21 Mar 2023 10:00 GMT
TMRW Conference Announces Dates and Location for Its Second Belgrade Edition
AITue 21 Mar 2023 07:33 GMT
HustleGPT: How To Build a Business With GPT-4 as Co-founder
CultureMon 20 Mar 2023 19:08 GMT
Taco Bell’s Metaverse Wedding Actually Happened
AIMon 20 Mar 2023 15:59 GMT
Musk Will Leverage AI to Detect Manipulation of Public Opinion on Twitter
AIMon 20 Mar 2023 10:45 GMT
LinkedIn’s New AI Tool to Improve User Profiles and Job Descriptions