Here’s Why You Should Donate/Pay for Signal

Privacy breeds freedom

Key Takeaways

  • Signal Sustainers is an optional paid subscription for Signal users.
  • Signal is the most secure, most private popular messaging service.
  • Privacy gives you a space to relax and explore complex thoughts.
Signal app on iPhone


If you like using something, you should probably pay for it. 

Messaging app, Signal, is the safest, most private way for most people to chat with others. It's also free and makes no money from ads or selling your data to advertisers. Folks who rely on Signal for their security or personal safety might worry that this business model cannot be sustained, but now, you can do something to help: pay for things you use.

"In this day and age where information and data are power, Signal is the only one that doesn't even attempt to gather them. Signal's main feature is end-to-end encryption. That's why so many people use Signal," Web design, SEO Social media expert Kyle Arnold told Lifewire via email. 

You Are Not the Product 

Most large-scale messaging or social networks make money by providing the service for 'free' to build a following, then exploit that user base, mining information from it to allow them to target ads. Signal doesn't do any of that.

"Signal has no data to sell, no advertisers to sell it to, and no shareholders to benefit from such a sale," writes Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike in a blog post.

Signal's main feature is end-to-end encryption. That's why so many people use Signal.

Instead, it relies on grants and donations. The new Signal Sustainer scheme lets regular users get in on the act. You can make a one-off donation from within the app, or you can sign up for a recurring subscription, just like with any other subscription-based app—it’s just optional with Signal. 

What do you get in exchange for your contribution? First, there’s the great feeling that you’re doing something good for yourself and other people. Second is a badge for your Signal profile, but in typical Signal fashion, the badge is not associated with your payment, and therefore cannot be traced. Instead, when you make a donation, your Signal username is simply added to the set of people who have donated.

Why Pay?

We've already touched on the critical role of Signal in the world. It's a fully anonymous, encrypted messaging service that keeps zero information about you. WhatsApp might be encrypted, but Facebook still keeps all the metadata surrounding the contents of your chats—who you chat to, when, and from where.

But why should you care enough to pay? After all, if you've got nothing to hide, you don't need privacy, right? That's a common argument and one which betrays a selfish approach. 

"Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say," said Edward Snowden in a Reddit AMA

Signal disappearing messages header image


It’s also dead wrong. You change your behavior in an environment where you know you’re being monitored. We’ve all made the same old half-joke when we’re on the phone—we might mention a drug or a word that out of context might seem dodgy—then we joke that the NSA is probably listening. In the end, we self-censor, avoiding mention of anything that we ourselves now deem unacceptable. 

Another example is how we conduct ourselves on Twitter vs how we speak to friends and colleagues offline. With the added context of knowing people and being in a shared space, those offline conversations can push into all kinds of subjects that would be dangerous online. A single tweet can be taken out of context and used against you. Also, unlike in-person conversations, tweets are public and stick around. 

That’s why Signal is so important. It’s a safe space to do whatever you want online. And that safety brings freedom of expression. That’s why Signal is worth paying for.

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