How can we get to the point where the average internet user uses tor on a daily basis?

I have been thinking a bit about how to increase adoption of tor and privacy tools in general. Our own privacy/anonymity is multiplied when other people also embrace privacy-respecting technology. But most people are not interested in changing their behavior or consumption habits to improve their privacy. Even talking about these sorts of things can get you labeled as a “conspiracy theorist,” even though Snowden literally proved 10 years ago that mass surveillance was going on.

Do you have any ideas on how to increase adoption of tor? Even with the smoothest possible onboarding experience, most people are unlikely to change their behavior unless they are “forced” to in some way, and they will complain all the way. In a basement in Hawaii, Snowden was able to access the telephone calls, text messages, and emails of everyone on the planet, but people still rely on unencrypted telephone calls to this day. Some people even explicitly choose to not care about privacy. How do we show these people that privacy is important, that there are things they can do to improve their privacy, and that it is worth changing their lifestyles in order to protect their privacy?


This may be handy for you:

Specially the Digital Security Guides.


Yes I have seen that look.

This is based on their “I have nothing to hide” mentality. The answer to that is asking these people for their iPhone (or whatever) so that you can snoop into every nook and cranny. Then ask for their wallet so you can get all the info in that. Lastly ask “Can I go to your home and look around everywhere and into everything”. “Sir, can I look at your browsing history? You let Google do it” All of a sudden you will notice that there is something to hide: their privacy, their intimacy.

No one wants you in their home snooping around even if there is nothing criminal or so you think.
There is an interesting opinion piece from April 8, 2015 in the Washington Post called “When everything is a crime”.

Use this search string to find it: → washington post when everything is a crime

I could have posted a link instead, but opted not to.


This is so true right now and Tor has this negative rep out in the world. Simply called as Dark Web and hardly anyone cares to learn the tech behind such impressive methodology. Not just Tor, people won’t even switch to anything else that’s not already widely popular among them. Social apps to browsers take advantage of such lack of education.

Funny part is the heads of social media companies go to great lengths to protect their privacy but couldn’t care less about their users. If Tor wants to penetrate more effectively than they too have to carry out advertorials in news publications and especially print media, through social media etc.


Correct on the bad rap thing.

“people won’t even switch to anything else”
Some people are just learning that there are other browsers and search engines out there because of the new EU laws which the big boys have to follow. Yes, believe it or not, Google search and Google Chrome are not the only search engine and browser. I know people for whom the internet and Google are indistinguishable.

Mounting any advertising campaign requires $$$. Look at their 2021-2022 financials: $6,954,260. Not exactly big league. More than 50% is US government money. $427,558 from we the people in 2023, $940,361 the previous year.

I see a big problem with Tor adoption by the masses. If 50% of the people started using Tor right NOW, could the network handle it? From what I read here, the relay operators pay their own bills. If their bandwidth charges doubled, could they pay it? Would they cut back? What about all the sites blocking Tor? In the eyes of the masses “Tor breaks the Internet” and the masses would revert back to the “regular internet” (Google).

Yes the masses would make the job of surveillance people a lot harder.

Think positive. You get all the benefits today of that anonymity and protection and they get what they got.


Those numbers paint a grim reality for sure.

In my view, problem is the branding itself and lack of awareness. One myth spreading like a wildfire is how people flock to using “Incognito or Private Mode” without getting the actual reality behind it. This is just an example of how a clever marketing gimmick can engage traction without putting much efforts. There has to be a middle ground somewhere which could make Tor look “cool” to users instead of feeling scared of!

The design “screams” privacy everywhere and it’s so rightly put too but this needs a more creative approach and welcoming integration. For example, if a bridge is not ready yet and the advisory reads, “No trespassing” in bold letters against “Under construction.” and to more welcoming “Sorry folks! We are on it and will get you back to riding soon!” and so on. Such simple and subtle changes can help a lot. People pay a lot of attention to design too. You know it is not about what you want to say but how you say it that matters more.

Bandwidth worry is correct but I think the network is so important that many will keep supporting it no matter what.

I remember how the Signal app got a sudden surge of users when WhatsApp had implemented a policy enforcing users to either accept or leave and this too during the pandemic times. Elon Musk’s tweet too got many users aware about Signal. But after a while, business as usual and hardly people cared. Reason for that to me is how Signal too suffers from being too bold about privacy. Again, that “cool” factor is missing even when it’s their protocol used by their rivals. Just look at the name alone, “Signal” and that is so common term for multitude of objects.

The positivity needs to be conveyed and taught in a way that even a not so technically inclined fellow too feel “happy” about it.


An official Tor Browser for iOS would do it, ignoring the various issues surrounding WebKit. I have more ideas, but they are not as impactful as this one.

So the other day, I was watching a youtube video from a business/marketing/entrepreneurship channel. You can watch it on invidious, (invidious onion link at http://inv.pjsfkvpxlinjamtawaksbnnaqs2fc2mtvmozrzckxh7f3kis6yea25ad.onion/watch?v=JUjSw8AyodY) or you can download it via yt-dlp proxied over tor (but I do not know how safe that is, see https://v236xhqtyullodhf26szyjepvkbv6iitrhjgrqj4avaoukebkk6n6syd.onion/t/freetube-and-yt-dlp-through-tor/12052).

It is an interesting video on 6 principles to increase business revenue. Obviously tor is rather different. And the author of the video (Leila Hormozi) says a couple stupid things about technology (like firing tech support at 16:07 because tech support was called the least favorite thing about the product by the customers). Nevertheless, I wonder if someone smarter / more knowledgable than me might come up with creative ideas to implement some of these factors, making tor as a product more appealing to normies. The six factors are activation (when the customer first gets value out of the product), track and display ROI, mirrored communication, time to value, ongoing onboarding, and evolution.

I am not sure if some of these things can be implemented. For example, track and display ROI isn’t so easy when we believe in wiping our browser history between sessions. I guess something like time to value can only be improved by making the tor network faster. But maybe on the new tab page, instead of just having the duckduckgo search box and the tor logo, the browser could occasionally display tips to help with ongoing onboarding (factor 5). For example, one tip might show an onion link to a torproject-maintained site that has some useful non-evil onion links, like the link to the new york times onion address or something that might be useful for normies. Another tip could direct users to learning how to use Dangerzone from the Freedom of the Press Foundation, in order to open their downloaded pdf documents safely. A third tip might say something like “Did you know that you can encrypt the contents of your email? Learn PGP here” and direct to a torproject-maintained site that teaches PGP email encryption. A fourth might teach the user about safety levels with the browser. A fifth might say something like, “Have a question about the tor browser? Ask a question on the tor forums here!” and link to these forums to ask questions. And so on. The tips should not be intrusive or annoying, of course. But it might help with this “ongoing onboarding” principle.

I am not sure how to improve tor when it comes to the other factors. I am just brainstorming here, I guess. And I suppose some people can argue that this product simply is not meant for a mainstream audience. What do you all think?

I guess it would also help to make onion addresses easier for human-memory, and I think I read that someone had a proposal on that. But I do not know if any significant progress has been made regarding that.


Good suggestions. My current thinking is that Tor will become more used when people experience censorship themselves. If they are able to circumvent without it, then Tor is not needed for their use case.

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