ProtonMail is looking to draw in millions more people around the world as the encrypted email service has now opened up a crowdsourced translation program that seeks volunteer translators to make the service multilingual.
Swiss startup ProtonMail now claims around two million users globally, and to expedite its growth, the company needs to cater to more languages. But translation can be an expensive endeavor, which is why the company is following in the footsteps of other firms by turning to its loyal user base to convert its interface into countless more tongues. Facebook was among the first high-profile tech startups to “go global” by leveraging its community of users to sidestep professional translators and achieve scale in multiple languages.
ProtonMail’s effort is initially open to anyone whose native language is not English and who wishes to see the website, webmail interface, and mobile apps in their own language. Those selected to participate in the translation program won’t be compensated in cash, but they will be given other perks, including free access to pro accounts and gift cards to spend in the ProtonMail shop.
Founded out of CERN in 2013, ProtonMail launched a year later in beta and then went on to raise more than $2.5 million in funding before its full launch last year. The secure email service uses client-side encryption, meaning all data is encrypted before it arrives on the company’s servers, and it recently introduced two-factor authentication (2FA) for added security.
With Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidential election in November, and high-profile data leaks from giants like Yahoo, there has been a surge in sign-ups for online privacy tools, such as VPNs and encrypted messaging services. ProtonMail reported that sign-ups doubled in the aftermath of Trump’s election win. And it’s this that ProtonMail hopes will encourage people to volunteer their language skills for the greater good — as a “public service.”
“You’ll also be performing an important public service,” said ProtonMail cofounder Jason Stockman, in a blog post. “Privacy is a universal value, and ProtonMail users come from over 150 countries. Having multilingual support is critically important for our mission of protecting privacy worldwide.”
The translation project will be taken on in stages, and chosen translators will be contacted over the next six months.