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Donate to Signal (signal.org)
458 points by nanna 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 145 comments

I have Signal as my smile.amazon.com recipient. It's not a lot but it averages to a reasonable monthly membership app cost. Note: your purchases have to be done through the smile.amazon subdomain to be eligible (for mobile apps: https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=15576745011)

Data on how much this can generate in aggregate; I chose EFF for my 2020 donations and Amazon Smile sent a year-end report on 15 Dec.

    $45,901.14 was donated to EFF in 2020
    $655,382.45 donated to EFF in total
    $217,644,976.48 to all US charities
    $237,615,915.89 to all global charities
Amounts in USD.

Somehow, thinking about how much money Besos earns (is it 78 billions this year? [1]), I find smile's slogan "Experience feel-good shopping" a bad joke at best.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.fr/us/what-amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos...

Did you have to bring politics into it? Smile is better than nothing, people are going to shop with or without it on Amazon why not send a fraction to "charities" ?

I never thought smile was actually this effective, but I assume based off of these numbers you are doing the vast majority of all your shopping on amazon (groceries in addition to household purchases)?

I assume those numbers are aggregated across everyone who has chosen EFF as their Smile donation recipient.

This is for all people who give to EFF.

I've been using smile.amazon.com since August 2019, and to date I've generated $6.01. I guess I don't use Amazon as much as you. It's like, shit, for the amount of trouble I've gone through to make sure I'm on smile.amazon.com instead of www.amazon.com, I should have just given some money to my recipient.

There is some browser plug-in to redirect you there if that helps.

I don’t know how smile works on the mobile app. Perhaps it doesn’t.

Indeed, I configured a Redirector[1] rule to do it:

    Redirect:     https?://www\.amazon\.com/(.*)
    Pattern type: Regular Expression
    to:           https://smile.amazon.com/$1
    Applies to:   Main window (address bar)
[1]: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/redirector/

But then you need a browser extension just for that? It’s a bit overkill. I wonder if this works well with /etc/hosts or local DNS.

So? The amount of additional memory, disk, and processing it takes up are basically nothing in the greater scheme of things.

Smile is available on the iOS Amazon mobile app, but only if you allow Amazon to send you promotional notifications.

How strange. I just checked my Smile account and I've generated £6.01 for my charity (my childrens' school). What are the odds...

From my perspective, the odds are fairly high that in a large group of people, two of them happen to have the same Smile account balance.

That's the classical birthday "paradox" but that's not what happened here.

Here, a random person in the room announced their birthday, and the question is whether someone else in the room shares that birthday. It's a very different situation, where I'm guessing you need around a thousand people for it to be very likely that their birthdays coincide, compared to the twenty or so for the birthday paradox.

Sure, but in this case it was a case of me not knowing one could check their Smile balance. GP posted their balance, prompting me to check mine, and the total was the same. That feels more akin to me going into a room and the first person I talk to having the same birthday as me than just finding 2 people in a room who happen to have the same birthday.

The situation is probably closer to this: Lots of people went into a room and asked someone what their birthday is. Only you happened to have the same one, so no one else said anything.

But, congrats on using up your luck for the next month or so. :)

If I posted “Think of a number. 1-100. Got it.........

You’re thinking of 17!” some of the hundreds of readers would be amazed by my accurate prediction

I just set z as my search prefix in firefox, send via sync to all devices.

there are tons of redirectors to smile.amazon.com in the chrome and firefox stores

Never heard of amazon smile before, but there registry of charities to donate to is really hard to ensure you got the right one.

I set mine to "Signal Technology Foundation" which I am fairly sure is correct, but there is no link, no description or other method to verify; it doesn't spark a lot of confidence.

And if that wasn't confusing enough, Signal et al call the foundation "The Signal Foundation" while the proper, official name is "Signal Technology Foundation".

Amazon notes[0] that they "will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases". Looking at my purchase history over the last six years, that number is closer to 0.25% (presumably because many purchases weren't considered eligible).

I still keep my purchases going to my charity of choice, but make no mistake: opting for AmazonSmile contributions won't move the needle on your charity. You have to make contributions directly out of your own wallet. Bonus points if your employer will match them.

[0] https://smile.amazon.com/gp/chpf/about/ref=smi_se_dshb_aas_s...

"All worldwide charities have received £180,650,306.59 as of November 2020" [0]

That might move a needle...

[0] https://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/chpf/dashboard?ref_=nav_cs_smi...

> opting for AmazonSmile contributions won't move the needle on your charity

It's better than the opposite, which is nothing.

Wouldn't the opposite be giving to those organizations directly? I'm not opposed to Smile, but presumably it isn't intended to be the only source of funding. Still, like you say, it's better than not giving anything.

The opposite of using Amazon Smile is not using it. It costs you nothing and benefits charities.

Sure, it's better than nothing, but I worry that there will be people who think that their use of Smile is enough and might deter some active giving.

I've funneled tens of thousands of dollars through Amazon in six years that resulted in only about $65 of donations, so less than $1/mo.

But I also give $100/mo (x2 with my employer match) to the same charity. So Smile donations will barely register compared with active, intentional giving.

TIL: smile.amazon.com and just added Signal Technology Foundation. Thanks!

Note: Signal Foundation is officially "Signal Technology Foundation", so this appears to be the correct recipient in the list on Amazon. Hopefully someone can verify this.

That's the one.

I’ve always wondered, is there some legitimate reason Amazon doesn’t just apply the non-profit donation functionality to Amazon proper? If not I’m sure we can safely assume “because money”

I always thought smile was some trick to break referral links and avoid paying out. I'm not clear on how it all works, I could be completely wrong.

Because of threads exactly like this one!

The mobile app requires you to enable notifications to turn on smile donations on in-app purchases. Talk about a dark pattern.

That’s the whole point though? They’re paying for you to enable notifications, and you can decide if the price is fare

You can additionally use an extension to force your browser to always use the smile.amazon subdomain.

Smile is nice, I wish they offered it in Canada.

Smile seems US-only

Germany as well, so no.

UK too.

We got it here in Germany too.

I wish Signal would also sell something, anything, but sell it: t-shirts, plushies/pillows, paid sticker packs, a "PRO" logo next to your name in your contacts list (to satisfy your vanity), a fake "license" that marks you as a supporter (gpg key signature of your name or something like that).

This is a criticism I give to all FOSS projects trying to raise money, sell me stuff, it's easier to justify an expense than a donation, especially if I pay it through my company.

It's often times not worth it. They are like 20 core developers and alot of them have day jobs, they are not a manufacturing company and the price to have this stuff made by a third party often doesn't make it worth the cost after accounting for taxes.

What are you talking about? Merch is where a lot of influencers make the bulk of their money with often putting less then a part-time job of effort into it.

There are tons of third-party services like Cafepress and Redbubble that let you slap your logo on anything and handle all the ordering, payment & shipping logistics for you. (For a hefty commission, of course, but $1 is better than $0.)

Signal is a great service, not just because of the security, but just functionality alone. Being able to make free international phone calls is great, and the audio quality is better than any cell phone call. I don’t “agree” with all of the philosophical or technical decisions behind the app but really believe it’s worthy of support.

Consider Threema also, please. No phone number required, super-easy to connect with your friends. I'm not affiliated in any way.


Signal is working on removing the phone number requirements. Best not to have all these fragments.

> Best not to have all these fragments.

Signal is another walled garder, which sooner or later will become to big to stay sustainable. Then it will be either sold (probably to Facebook) or die. We should support truly distributed systems if we do not want to repeat history forever. Consider Matrix instead.

It's a 501c3, I don't think you can buy those. In any case, it's open source, and there are several forks floating around (though Signal does typically dissuade people from using them, because it conflicts with their strategy around a cohesive experience, and rollout of new features).

Signal is open source. In any of these hypotheticals, it can be forked.

But where will it find the money to support, say, 1 billion people? Telegram already started to show ads.

Telegram is a product from a for-profit company. Again, Signal is a 501c3 non-profit. It gets its funding from the same sort of places as Wikipedia, the Tor Project, the Internet Archive, etc.: the donation link you're commenting on.

Do you seriously believe that donations can cover 1 billion of users on Signal? I don’t. Only federation is a sustainable answer (unless maybe you convince governments to fund it).

>Do you seriously believe that donations can cover 1 billion of users on Signal?


>I don't.

Okay, any particular reason? The storage and processing costs are small, you're basically just paying for enough hosting to route the traffic, plus a dozen or so developers.

>Only federation is a sustainable answer (unless maybe you convince governments to fund it).

The US government does fund it, through several channels (most notable probably being the Open Technology Fund), as did Brian Acton for at least $50 million.

Is there a way to donate anonymously via monero, zcash, grim, beam, etc...?

Nah. You need to donate real money.

> Nah. You need to donate real money.

You mean gold?

Or are you talking about the toilet paper handed out freely by the USG in 2020?

Most retailers were rationing TP in 2020. If only customers knew.

I believe you've already posted that video of Bernanke making an a__s out of himself.

> Is there a way to donate anonymously via monero, zcash, grim, beam, etc...?

These organizations have enough going on. It would be a waste of donor capital to add defending against money laundering inquiries to the list.

Is there a particular reason that Signal needs donations? I thought Brian Acton injected $50m two years ago…

They have tens of millions of users and a single large donation won't keep them running forever

and yet the whole Mastodon and Briar ecosystems run on pennies.

Mastodon instances with a couple of hundred users can easily cost $100. It's definitely not running on pennies, just that there are a lot of individual people footing smaller bills.

Most Mastodon instances are also collecting donations to cover server costs…

I was wondering this myself, but apparently they are seeing a huge influx of new users right now. This article explores what might be going on.


Somewhat off topic, but is Signal still tough to use if you have > 1 device?

It used to require you to backup / restore and you couldn't just start a chat on your work computer, continue it on your phone, then continue it on your home computer, while still being able to see the full history on all 3 devices.

It was a dealbreaker for me.

Now all chats are automatically sync'ed in real time across devices, provided that those devices are all connected to the internet (otherwise they sync upon connecting to internet).

The only drawback I have found is that if desktop Signal is running on my computer, but I’m away somewhere else in town and have my phone with me, I miss calls (but not text messages). Only the Signal on my desktop rings when I’m called, while the phone doesn't ring.

> Only the Signal on my desktop rings when I’m called, while the phone doesn't ring.

Doesn't https://signal.org/blog/ice-forking/ deal with that? Hasn't it been implemented yet?

I've had the desktop app open all day, and answered a Signal call on my phone earlier. I'll do more tests.

EDIT: just tested it, phone rang, I answered on desktop. Seems to work as intended.

It doesn't ring but it shows an incoming call, however you can't pick up. The green button does nothing.

Sounds like a bug. You could contact support@signal.org. I imagine they’d be interested.

You can disable receiving calls on your desktop in settings, I believe

Nope. I use it pretty heavily, and the only time I had an issue was when I added a new device and had some de-sync issues in the first 5 minutes. Otherwise, it's been a very smooth experience.

I have 4 devices that I use with the same account, in parallel and it works like a charm, it's amazing.

On four phones it might work but if one of those devices is a windows computer and you leave it on, you might experience problems with messages or phonecalls only going to one device. And it will forget your account now and then so you have to resync all messages which might take 5-10 minutes. Very annoying if you don't use it often on the computer but sometimes you just can't be bothered to type on a phone...

I have 1 Android phone, 1 Windows PC and 2 Macs, all for the same account - works pretty well for me!

I am using Signal 50% on the phone and 50% on the desktop and they complement each other well, I don't run into problems. The histories are in sync and the only thing I found annoying so far is the start-up time for the desktop version.

I only wish the desktop app would let me send SMS.

SMS is sent by interfacing with your phone’s modem which is connected to the mobile phone network. How would a desktop app be able to do that, except for that tiny minority of users who have a computer that can take a SIM card directly for connectivity?

https://messages.google.com/ manages to do it by routing the SMS through your phone.

The phone app could sync with the desktop app. You type an sms to the desktop, it syncs with the mobile app, mobile phone sends the sms, gets the reply, and the reply is synced to the desktop app.

This would require your phone to be connected to the internet at the moment you press Enter on the desktop, otherwise it could be hours until the SMS goes out. For those on prepaid plans, it would also require that you have enough credit on that phone to send SMS. Perhaps the developers felt that there were too many uncertainties to implement this feature; users might have reacted negatively if it didn’t work for them.

Plus, Signal plans to eventually allow multiple phones to be connected to one’s account. Then, the question becomes: if you sent a SMS from your desktop, which of those phones sends the SMS and gets billed by the mobile provider for doing so? You might say that a setting could be made for that, but any new setting requires changes to the UI, too.

It works like this on messages.google.com as well. It's not a deal breaker.

By talking with the app on your phone and asking it to do it.

It's totally easy to use now. I bounce between a phone and tablet and it's always in sync.

You are an apple tablet owner I guess as android tablets are not supported as linked device :(

I had a bad time with this a little over a year ago and stopped using Signal over it.

If my phone was off and I used Signal Desktop in the meantime, when I turned my phone back on the sync would often take as long as half an hour, with my phone buzzing for each message received during the duration in which I was online.

I contacted support and, well, it's a free product, what do you expect?

I stopped using it after I received a text message from my then-fiance about a medical diagnosis and couldn't call her back until Signal stopped overloading my phone. Awful. Purged from my device and I never recommend them anymore.

I promise I will once I can hide my phone number.

They're working on that, though they want to do it in a way that exposes less: https://twitter.com/moxie/status/1281353119369097217

To give via PayPal with no fees for Signal: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/3675786

Better donate to Matrix.org.

I very strongly feel like hackernews is backing the wrong horse with Signal over Matrix and it is making me sad.

I run private matrix server and all the ux problems it has when you want encrypted chat compared to Signal are just massive turn off for most people. I hope they fix it one day.

Also it's two pretty different things. Signal is mostly personal 1on1 and Matrix is big chat rooms.

I agree right now. Signal is better today (other than being tied to a phone number which I detest) but Matrix seems like the clear win for the future.

That being said I find Matrix usable today and it seems better to bring my friends to that instead of trying to get them to move twice.

I am not sure it is so clear win. It has chance to replace work chat platforms like Slack but i am still doubtful about casual users which is much harder and probably also more important.

The big killer feature of Signal is that once i "convert" someone to use it they always have some people from completely different social bubble that also uses it and that app immediately becomes more useful.

This wouldn't be possible without the phone number. I've used to share your view but nowdays i think Signal way is actually genius deliberate decision and one of the main reasons why it's picking up steam. Encrypted messaging with my buddies has never been an issue I need to replace Facebook Messages. I've realized this when some random Airbnb host started to naturally communicate with me over Signal instead of SMS without even mentioning it.

Matrix and Signal seem to have very different use cases to me. I don't think they really "compete" at all

Can't you use Matrix for everything Signal does?

As a token of support, I implemented signal protocol in 250 lines of python.


Hope more programmers understand how this works, implement it correctly and create apps we haven't thought about yet.

Can’t they just send Brian Acton an email? He’s got to have some cash left over from selling off WhatsApp’s user base to Facebook.

He seeded the Signal Foundation with $50M.

Exactly, bound to have at least a couple bil laying around.

Assuming your wealth is 1/1e9 of his, you might have a couple dollars laying around as well.

Sure but that’s a significantly worse ROI of the effort of trying to get that out of me.


Given that Signal requires a phone number to sign up and one can still be a victim to SIM-swapping attacks? I don't think so.

Get rid of phone number sign-in and we can talk.

You can protect yourself from SIM swapping by setting a registration PIN in the app.

Yes, right now you still need a phonenumber but they are working on a solution without needing a phone.

Telegram dude.

Nah bro.

I would probably actually donate if they stopped doing user-hostile things like not letting me get at my conversations unless I set a profile name.

The counterpoint to this is all the people throwing a fit over having to use phone numbers.

Yeah, I mean I don't care what the primary identifier for a user is. It started out with phone numbers which I was okay with at the time (since I only chat with ppl who I'd be okay sharing my cell# with anyways), though I now see it as a potential privacy concern. But the idea of forcing me to submit a personal piece of information (the name field cannot just be an empty space) doesn't correlate with "privacy" and security that they so strongly portray as their priorities. The fact I can't even access the app anymore unless I populate the First Name field with some kind of text -- information I'm never going to share with another user anyways -- is really disappointing and frustrating.

There's nothing stopping you from using a pseudonym, or even a single emoji as a "name".

I've never used Signal so forgive me if I am mistaken but is it possible to self-host Signal servers?

Technically, yes, but you'll be limited to people connecting to your own Signal server from what I've read.


There's no federation, so even if it was possible I don't see why you would want to do it.

Ah that's a bummer really. I am just kinda skeptical of centralized services. Relying on the benevolence of a single party for your communication is risky.

E: This probably goes for all the chat services which are even mildly popular (WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Threema etc.). Matrix seems to be an exception.

Signal’s founder Moxie Marlinspike is famously anti-federation. His argument is that communication will break down as some clients implement some features, while other clients don't. Your client has no guarantees that the client on the other end will understand what it sends. Moxie points to the chaotic state of XMPP clients and servers as an example of this. So, he calls for a single client connecting to a single server where everyone agrees on what functionality is present.

Yeah this is my main beef with Signal. I don't want to end up in yet another walled garden. I see much more benefit to the open standard approach that made the internet great. Matrix is where it's at for me.

Why he thinks centralisation is best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj3YFprqAr8

(Title: 36C3 - The ecosystem is moving)

To me, it's a sound argument and he's convinced me. Fighting the status quo by constantly improving in a short amount of time is incompatible with decentralisation. It's the same reason e-mail hasn't been able to change and improve, or encrypted email still isn't practical, but I'll leave the meat of the argument to that video.

Well, if we're sharing their arguments, this was Matrix's response: https://matrix.org/blog/2020/01/02/on-privacy-versus-freedom

Then don't forget about the federated XMPP which is probably more popular than Matrix.

No, and you are not even allowed to fork and modify their client that connects to the official Signal servers.

Also you cannot put their client on f-droid.

It's by far the most locked-down "open source" I've seen.

If you’re interested in donating to Signal, your employer might offer matching your donation. Something to look in to.

Edit: Non profit 501(c)(3) donation matching is a common US employee benefit.

Why would anyone's employer do this?

Because it's a 501(3)(c) non-profit foundation? Why do you ask the question, this is standard stuff in the U. S.?

They may not be in or from the US or know much about the US.

Hence my question: they could also just be snarky, and hence a waste of time to give a more detailed answer.

Often the company gets kudos from the charity for matching employee donations, in addition to the tax deduction for the amount they match.

Because they use Signal to secure work comms, and it's a steal even with a donation of n amount?

Or was this snark?

I use Signal to audio call friends and family in Belarus, since it wasn't blocked this past summer, while Telegram was.

Mind you the entire internet was blocked there for a bit though.

Is this news?

Musk Tweeted to use Signal, so it might be getting a major spike in downloads.

I did not like the funnel at this link, so I did not donate.

You want me to yield personal information like my email address BEFORE disclosing what the payment options are? No thank you.

I don't care who you are, be up-front about what's ahead before harvesting me.

You can give any email to find out what are your payment options.


You've probably given Signal your real phone number to use the app. Email should hardly be any more private.

Even if you used a burner phone, getting a temp email is a million times easier. I couldve generated 50 working email addresses in the time I wrote this comment.

I hate it that we have degraded software into adware or begware.

Signal is developed by a non-profit foundation. It comes with no ads or in-program begging, the community is just supposed to know that there is a foundation out there that has to be kept afloat. Really, this is no different from FSF/GNU development for decades now.

How else do you pay for developers / servers?

Everyone that makes software should just sell it for profit, or give it away at a loss?

We have killed direct sales / SaaS for some types of software (because of corps giving it out for free)

The free alternatives are paid for with your data. The whole point of signal is that they don't have your data.

Nobody is forcing you to pay for it.

GP wants to pay...

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