Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Privacy Is Priceless, But Signal Is Expensive

Meredith Whittaker and Joshua Lund (Hacker News):

Signal is also a nonprofit, unlike almost every other consumer tech company. This provides an essential structural safeguard ensuring that we stay true to our privacy-focused mission. To put it bluntly, as a nonprofit we don’t have investors or profit-minded board members knocking during hard times, urging us to “sacrifice a little privacy” in the name of hitting growth and monetary targets. This is important in an industry where “free” consumer tech is almost always underwritten by monetizing surveillance and invading privacy. Such practices are often accompanied by “growth hacking” and engagement maximization techniques that leverage dark patterns to keep people glued to feeds and notifications. While Signal is also free to use, we reject this kind of manipulation, focusing instead on creating a straightforward interpersonal communications app. We also reject business models that incentivize such practices.

Instead of monetizing surveillance, we’re supported by donations, including a generous initial loan from Brian Acton. Our goal is to move as close as possible to becoming fully supported by small donors, relying on a large number of modest contributions from people who care about Signal. We believe this is the safest form of funding in terms of sustainability: ensuring that we remain accountable to the people who use Signal, avoiding any single point of funding failure, and rejecting the widespread practice of monetizing surveillance.


We estimate that by 2025, Signal will require approximately $50 million dollars a year to operate—and this is very lean compared to other popular messaging apps that don’t respect your privacy.


1 Comment RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

I'm glad Signal exists, for those who need it. That might even be me, in future. But I won't donate, at least not now, because they're a centralised platform that uses phone numbers and SMS authentication by choice and they're antagonistic to decentralisation. Those who share such antagonism can pick up the tab, thanks.

Leave a Comment