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Is Nostr Going to Be the New Twitter for Bitcoiners?

It seems like every week a new social media app pops up and claims to be the new Twitter. Many people, myself included, just ignore the new apps and continue to use the flawed, but favorite blue bird app.

That is, until I tried using Damus, an iOS app that taps into NOSTR, a social media protocol.

Although I was skeptical at first, a couple of novel and genuinely interesting features captured my attention. I found myself asking the question, “Is Nostr going to be the new twitter?”

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What is NOSTR?

Let’s start by breaking down the acronym – Nostr. First of all, it stands for “Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays”.

Secondly, Nostr is not a platform or an app – it’s a protocol. In the same way that both bitcoin and the internet are protocols, Nostr is simply an agreed upon structure for sharing social-media-like information. The internet is a protocol for sharing data, bitcoin is a protocol for sharing value, and similarly, Nostr is a protocol for sharing “notes and other stuff”.

Unlike the dozens of blockchain-based social media platforms that have spawned in the last decade, Nostr doesn’t have a blockchain behind it. No token, no ICO, no governance. It is simply a network of relays that forward notes to other relays. Then, “clients” like Damus and Amethyst show the notes from authors that you’re interested in.

These are crucial aspects to understand about Nostr because there are some less-than-intuitive takeaways that we can now get into.

One Key to Rule them All

Imagine that you have the same login credentials for all of your social media accounts. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, and all of the others. This is how Nostr works by default.

Earlier I mentioned that I use Nostr through an iOS app called Damus. After downloading the app and creating a public and private key (much like a crypto wallet), I gained access to a massive feed of notes (posts) through my mobile device.

The neat thing about Nostr is that I can take the same public and private key, and log into any other application built on Nostr.

You can access your posts from an Android app called Amethyst, or directly from the browser by navigating to There’s also clones of platforms we already use, such as Nostrgram, a clone of instagram.

What’s important to understand with this functionality is that – if I wanted to build a new application on Nostr, I would inherit the entire Nostr userbase by default. If I were to build Nostr-BNB, an AirBnB-like app on Nostr, I would instantly have about 500k users, no need to grow my user base from scratch.

Bitcoin Interoperability

As previously mentioned, there is no blockchain behind Nostr. With that being said, Nostr uses the same cryptographic schema as bitcoin to generate private and public keys. The implication here is that by default, your Nostr account is also a bitcoin wallet.

This is all well and good, but we know that the bitcoin blockchain doesn’t have the transaction throughput required to handle millions of transactions per second. It is simply incapable of performing microtransactions at the speed and scale necessary to facilitate payments within a social media application. This is where the lightning network comes in.

Nostr and Zaps

Users of Nostr can connect a LNURL to their profile, allowing them to accept zaps, or lightning payment straight to their lightning wallet. Users can zap a note, or a profile within seconds. This is a much different way of engaging with content than simply upvoting or liking. It is liking with a tiny (or not so tiny) amount of bitcoin attached to it.

Zapping is a game changer for the lightning network because up until this point, there really weren’t many applications using lightning. People were beginning to use it to make payments here or there, but since the launch of Damus and the integration of zaps, the lightning network has experienced massive growth in the number of lightning payments per day.

The preferred lightning wallet of choice, Wallet of Satoshi, is about to cross 1 million lightning payments per month.

Is Nostr Just for Bitcoiners?

Nostr is only a couple of years old. The earliest adopters of Nostr and its related applications are largely bitcoiners. But this is a bit of a risk, as ideally Nostr-based applications become the preferred method of social interaction for their properties of censorship resistance and account-interoperability.

Although Nostr is mostly used by bitcoiners, there are many initiatives, and even a conference (called Nostrica) aimed at building useful applications on top of Nostr. Some examples include Shopify-like marketplaces, and YouTube like video platforms.

Lots of Building to Do on Nostr

Nostr is in its nascency, and there is a ways to go before the platform can compete with billion dollar companies like Google and Meta. But, Nostr has a few advantages that give it a real shot at replacing some of the world’s most beloved apps.

For starters, Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter has thrown his time and efforts into seeing Nostr developed. While he might not be able to bring Nostr to the masses alone, he is no doubt a valuable voice in the budding community.

Open Source for the Win

Finally, Nostr is open source. This means that anyone and everyone can build their ideas on top of it and benefit from its network effects.

If we know anything about open source technologies (like bitcoin, linux, version control, TCP/IP), we know that in certain cases, they have an edge over similar applications that are closed sourced.

Time will tell whether or not a small and simple note sharing protocol will be able to de-platform social media goliaths and serve a win to bitcoiners and censorship fighting renegades everywhere.

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About the Author

Keegan Francis

Keegan Francis is a cryptocurrency knowledge expert and consultant. He recognized the opportunity in cryptocurrency early in his career and has been invested in it since 2014. His passion led him to start the Go Full Crypto, a project that documents his journey of totally opting out of traditional financial services. Keegan has been living entirely off of cryptocurrencies since 2019.

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