Signalboost is now part of Mozilla's DataFutures Lab

February 01, 2021

An open source project I've been working on has been awarded $100,000 as part of Mozilla's inaugural Data Futures Lab!

I'm super excited to announce that the open source project I've been working on - Signalboost - has been awarded $100,000 as part of Mozilla's Data Futures Lab. Here's the press release.

I started working on this project with my cofounder Austin during our time at the Recurse Center, where we bonded over a desire to do more open source work and build ethical technology that embodied our values.

The Signalboost technology allows one to programmatically purchase a phone number from Twilio and subscribe to that number over Signal messenger's encrypted messaging protocol, enabling thousands of people to subscribe to and receive updates from a single phone number.

While this technology itself is seemingly simple, it has had an amplifying effect across multiple communication strategies. Over the past year, we've seen Signalboost used to:

  • Announce meetings and coordinate essential supplies for small grassroots organizations helping their local communities during Covid-19
  • Coordinate Black Lives Matter protests and marches all over the world
  • Run a digital security hotline for human rights defenders and democracy activists in Burma

Over the past 6 months, downloads of Signal and other privacy-preserving apps has skyrocketed, and so has enthusiasm for our project. Just by word of mouth, over 15,000 people have either created or susbcribed to Signalboost channels. We've been trying to keep up with the demand, but that's why this grant is so indispensable: it will allow us to scale up the infrastructure we need to meet this moment, conduct privacy-centered user research, and build relationships with movement leaders and grassroots organizers.

Here's what our growth has looked like this past year:

signalboost growth infographic

We're in great company — Consumer Reports and Worker Info Exchange are both inspiring projects helping gig workers and consumers have more agency over their data — I'm excited to see what this collaborative space will bring to fruition.