© 2024 Kishan Kumar. All rights reserved.

Why You Should Join Nostr: The Social Media Protocol that Empowers Users and Respects Privacy

Nostr is a decentralized social network protocol that aims to provide a more open, censorship-resistant, and privacy-focused alternative to traditional social media platforms.

June 05, 2023


Nostr is a decentralized social network protocol that aims to provide a more open, censorship-resistant, and privacy-focused alternative to traditional social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. It was built to address the growing concerns about centralization, surveillance, and control that have become prevalent in mainstream social media platforms.

We all experienced having our accounts banned when we shared opposing ideologies or didn’t align with the mainstream media.

Let’s start by understanding what Nostr is.

How does it work?

Nostr is a protocol, not a platform. A protocol is nothing but a bunch of rules that one needs to follow for communication between nodes in the network. For e.g. HTTP is a protocol that governs how data is transmitted over the Internet.
In Nostr, the protocol is based on a peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture, which means that users connect directly to each other without relying on a central server. If you are thinking of torrents, then you’d be correct. Torrent helps us in sharing files using the P2P protocol. Here there is no central authority; thus, it is called decentralized. This decentralization ensures that no single entity controls the network, making it more resilient to censorship and surveillance.
  • In Nostr, users create and manage their identities using cryptographic key pairs. Each Nostr account is based on a public/private key pair.
  • A simple way to think about this is that your public key is your username, and your private key is your password, with one major caveat. Unlike a password, your private key cannot be reset if lost.

  • The public key is generally presented as a string with the prefixnpub1, and the private key with the prefix nsec1. Make sure you store your private key somewhere safe, like a password manager.
  • If you are wondering what npub1 and nsec1 means it is simply a prefix. pub innpub1 stands for public, and sec in nsec1 stands for secret.
  • These key pairs are used to sign and verify messages, ensuring the owner of a particular identity can post messages on their behalf.
  • Users can follow other users by subscribing to their public keys, and they can also create and join groups by subscribing to group keys.
  • Messages in Nostr are small, limited to 1,000 bytes, and can include text, links, or other content. They are propagated through the network using a gossip protocol, which means that each node shares messages with their neighbors, who in turn share them with their neighbors, and so on. This ensures that messages eventually reach all interested parties without needing a central server.

You might be thinking, well, my messages are propagated through the network, and each node has access to it. Doesn't it mean that it violates privacy?

The answer is: No, the gossip protocol used by Nostr does not violate privacy because the messages are encrypted and only visible to those with the cryptographic keys to decrypt them.

Let's take an example to understand the flow:

  • Let's say that Alice and Bob are both users of the Nostr network. Alice wants to send a private message to Bob, so she encrypts the message using Bob's public key. Bob's public key is available to everyone on the network, so Alice can easily obtain it.
  • When Bob's node receives the encrypted message, it can see that it is intended for him because it was encrypted using his public key.However, Bob's node cannot read the message because it does not have access to Bob's private key.
  • In this example, even though Alice used Bob's public key to encrypt the message, only Bob could decrypt and read it because he was the only one with access to his private key. This ensures that messages are private and secure, even as they are propagated through the network, using a decentralized P2P architecture.

Why was it built?

Because if you post something on social media that is even slightly inappropriate, you risk yourself getting canceled. Canceled is a new term nowadays, meaning getting banned. Even though we have the "Right to express," we actually can't exercise it because we'll risk offending people.

Nostr was built to address the issues of centralization, surveillance, and control that have become prevalent in mainstream social media platforms. By creating a decentralized alternative, Nostr aims to empower users with greater control over their online presence, protect their privacy, and promote free speech.

What are the benefits of using Nostr?

  • Decentralization: Nostr's P2P architecture ensures that no single entity controls the network, making it more resilient to censorship and surveillance.
  • Privacy: Users have control over their own identities and can choose what information to share with others.
  • Censorship resistance: The decentralized nature of Nostr makes it difficult for any single entity to censor or control the content on the network.
  • Open-source: Nostr is an open-source project, meaning anyone can contribute to its development or build their own applications on top of the protocol.

What are its limitations?

What seems to be its benefits can also be its limitations. People can exploit the platform to convey their irrational views or can exploit it by spamming people with obscene content. You can't ban them because it's decentralized. Apart from that, there are other limitations:

  • Scalability: Decentralized networks can face scalability issues as they grow, which may lead to slower message propagation and increased resource usage.
  • Adoption: As a relatively new and lesser-known protocol, Nostr may face challenges in gaining widespread adoption compared to established social media platforms.
  • User experience: Decentralized systems can sometimes be more complex and harder to use than centralized alternatives, which may deter some users from adopting Nostr.
  • Content moderation: The decentralized nature of Nostr makes it difficult to enforce content moderation policies, which could lead to the spread of harmful or illegal content on the network.

How does Nostr compare to other social media protocols?

Nostr is one of the many social media protocols that have emerged in recent years as alternatives to traditional centralized platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Some of the other social media protocols are:

  • Bluesky: A decentralized social media protocol that is being developed by a team backed by Twitter. It aims to create a standard for open and interoperable social media networks supporting various applications and use cases.
  • Lens Protocol

    Lens Protocol

  • Lens Protocol: A decentralized social media protocol that is built on top of Ethereum and IPFS. Users can create and own their digital identities, content, and communities. It also integrates NFTs and DeFi features to enable new forms of monetization and governance.
  • Mastodon


  • Mastodon: A decentralized social media network that consists of federated servers called instances. Users can join any instance they want and communicate with others across instances. It supports features like hashtags, lists, custom emojis, and content warnings. This is currently being supported by Medium. If you are a member, you can access it right away.

Some of the ways that Nostr compares to these other social media protocols are:

  • Censorship resistance: Nostr is more censorship resistant than Bluesky and Mastodon since it does not rely on any central authority or server to control the content or the users. Users can publish to any relay they want and switch relays over time. Lens Protocol is also censorship resistant since it uses Ethereum and IPFS to store and distribute data.
  • Keys, not accounts: Nostr and Lens Protocol use public and private keys to create user identities rather than emails and passwords. This makes it easy to verify messages and encrypt private messages. Bluesky and Mastodon use accounts that are tied to servers or instances.
  • Integrating Bitcoin payments: Nostr is the only social media protocol that integrates Bitcoin payments natively since it uses Bitcoin-like public keys for user identities. Users can tip each other, support their favorite creators, or pay for premium content using Bitcoin. Lens Protocol uses Ethereum-based tokens and NFTs for monetization and governance. Bluesky and Mastodon do not have any built-in payment features.
  • Quickly gaining momentum: Nostr is the newest and fastest-growing social media protocol among these alternatives. It has over a million users and has been endorsed by influential figures like Jack Dorsey, Edward Snowden, Cynthia Lummis, and Vitalik Buterin. Bluesky is still under development and has not launched yet. Lens Protocol is in beta testing and has limited access. Mastodon has been around since 2016 and has over 5 million users.

How do I create my Nostr account?

To create a Nostr account, you need to generate a public and private key pair using a Nostr client of your choice. A Nostr client is an application that allows you to access the Nostr protocol and interact with other users. Different clients exist for different platforms and purposes, such as web, iOS, Android, or desktop.

Some of the popular Nostr clients are:

  • Coracle (https://coracle.social): A web client that supports posts, replies, follows, blocks, tags, and tipping.
  • Snort (https://snort.social/): A web client.
  • Damus: n iOS client that supports all the features that Coracle does with lightning payments.
  • Gossip:A desktop client that supports posts, replies, follows, blocks, tags, tipping, and private messages.
  • Nostros:An Android client that supports posts, replies, follows, blocks, tags, tipping, and private messages.

To create a Nostr account using one of these clients, you can follow these steps:

  • Download and install the client of your choice from their official website or app store.
  • Open the client and choose to create a new account. The client will generate a public and private key pair for you. The public key will start with npub1, and the private key will start with nsec1.
  • Save your private key somewhere safe and secure, such as a password manager. You cannot reset your private key if you lose it. You will need it to sign in to any Nostr client and prove your identity.
  • Enter your name and other optional details to customize your profile. You can also choose a relay to connect to. A relay is a server that stores and broadcasts your messages. You can change your relay at any time.
  • Start following other users by entering their public keys or scanning their QR codes. You can also find users by searching for their names or tags on the nostr.directory or nostr.band.
  • Start posting messages by typing in the text box and clicking send. You can also reply to other messages by clicking on them and choosing reply. You can also tip other users by clicking on their messages and choosing a tip.

You can follow me on the Nostr platform:


I hope this blog post has helped you understand what Nostr is and how to get started with it.

.   .   .

The 0xkishan Newsletter

Subscribe to the newsletter to learn more about the decentralized web, AI and technology.

© 2024 Kishan Kumar. All rights reserved.