PayPal, Moneybookers, Mastercard, and Visa to process payments to WikiLeaks was clearly an effort to sever the organization's access to online financial resources. But there remains one way to donate online to WikiLeaks, via the Swedish startup Flattr.The refusal by
Flattr is a social micropayment service that takes the concept behind the Digg or Facebook "Like" button and backs it with real money. In the company's words, "Flattr was founded to help people share money, not just content." Registered Flattr users pay a 2 minimum fee per month, and then mark their support for content by clicking the Flattr button. At the end of the month, that user fee is divided between all the content that's been flattered.
a profile on Flattr since August. And not surprisingly, WikiLeaks has received as many flattrs this past week as it had for the first 4 months of its account activity. To date, WikiLeaks has received 3270 Flattrs for the Afghan War Diaries.There is no Flattr button on the latest round of leaked document. But WikiLeaks has had
You've Got to Give to Get
Of course, Flattr has a lot more active users than simply WikiLeaks. Sites using Flattr buttons include the blog TechDirt and the French news site Numerama. At the beginning of November, less than 3 months after launching its beta, Flattr had 46,056 registered users and had passed more than 114,057 through the system. All that prior to Cablegate, which has given Flattr a substantial boost in traffic (although the site is still in beta).
Some of the early skepticism about Flattr suggested that people would be unwilling to pay for content they could already get for free. Others said that the only people that would use Flattr would be publishers. But Flattr reports that well over half of its active users are there to give rather than to earn money. Flattr says that "The system (and liquidity or currency in the system) grows every month; average users' deposits grows every month; average monthly allocation (we set minimum at 2) grows every month -- and more than half of the users are just Flattring, not receiving."
Flattring as Giving Back
In the spirit of giving back (and arguably as a result of the success that the company has seen around WikiLeaks' donations), Flattr now makes it possible for non-profit organizations to use Flattr for fundraising and engaging with their supporters. And as such, Flattr has removed the need for them to pay a monthly minimum fee or to Flattr others' content each month; Flattr also waives the standard 10% fee on revenues received.
And in coming days, Flattr also plans to roll another change: the ability to flattr specific amounts, up to 20 per donation and up to 50 per month. Flattr calls this "a significant development with the system and should open up a flood of donations for WikiLeaks - and other users, publishers and participants in the system."