back to article Firefox to feature sponsored content as of next week

The Mozilla Foundation has revealed that links to sponsored posts have started to appear in its Firefox browser and pledged to deliver them without invading users' privacy. Mozilla flagged it would add sponsored links to its browser in January 2018, after the 2017 acquisition of web-clipping service Pocket brought with it the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not buying it - This is a badly timed Slippery Slope

    It'll be interesting to see if Firefox stays bundled with Linux installs...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not buying it - This is a badly timed Slippery Slope

      The money has to come from somewhere. History shows that no one will pay for a Web browser (though given the decent state of Firefox at the moment, I probably would). Apparently money has to be raised some other way.

      Ever tried JRiver's Media Centre? It's so good at what it does I readily buy it. The price and licensing and functionality hit a good sweet spot in my opinion.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        The problem lies deeper

        "The money has to come from somewhere."

        The problem is that browsers now are so incredibly complex that you need a large corporation to support them. If Mozilla wanted to do something for a free and open web, they'd have done everything they could to prevent the bloat of web functionalities. Instead of making Javascript ever faster, they'd have provided, for example some "remote GUI" standard which is less insane than web applications.

        If Mozilla would just have said "no" to new web standards more often, those standards wouldn't have gotten off the ground and nobody would have had to implement them.

        1. Tac Eht Xilef

          Re: The problem lies deeper

          "The problem is that browsers now are so incredibly complex that you need a large corporation to support them."

          Is a corporation with $30+ million in net assets large enough?

          How about if its liabilities were only ~6% of gross assets?

          How about if it styled itself as "open souce", and perpetuated the belief that most of the development work on its flagshit product was done for free by volunteer contributors?

          (serendipitous typo left in ;))

          1. Christian Berger Silver badge

            Re: The problem lies deeper

            "Is a corporation with $30+ million in net assets large enough?"

            The problem is that any browser will need such a large community to maintain it, that you will eventually end up with a large corporation mostly concerned with its own survival.

            The primary interest of Mozilla is not to provide a good browser, the primary interest is to keep on existing and grow. Providing a browser is just a means to this end. It's the same as with any big corporation, tax exempt or tax dodging.

            That's why Mozilla has no interest in a "better web". A "better web" would mean to say "no" to bad proposals like "WebAssembly", Bluetooth APIs or HTTP/2. However a "better web" would be simpler and lower the barrier of entry for new browsers. If writing a browser engine was as simple as writing a text editor, we'd have hundreds of engines, all competing to be the fastest and safest. Instead we have an oligopoly. We have a browser engine by Microsoft, one by Apple, one by Google and one by Mozilla. 4 browser engines, all with their own user group. Often they don't even care about fixing bugs, as the web will just develop around those bugs.

            1. Mike_in_Oz

              There IS a decent alternative browser!

              I have been using Brave for a few months now as my primary browser. So far it has handled everything thrown at it. And fast too.

          2. Smooth Newt
            Meh

            Re: The problem lies deeper

            The problem is that browsers now are so incredibly complex that you need a large corporation to support them.

            Browsers don't have a life of their own with web browser development corporations running behind them desperately trying to catch up. In fact, these outfits keep adding loads of unnecessary bells and whistles so that browsers are now a prime example of massive code bloat and feature overload.

          3. Warm Braw Silver badge

            Re: The problem lies deeper

            The problem is that browsers now are so incredibly complex that you need a large corporation to support them

            Large corporations are now in charge of the specifications. Without independent specifications, there's no point in Firefox simply being a "me too".

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: The problem lies deeper

              "Large corporations are now in charge of the specifications."

              Since you linked to that article about WHATWG, I think it's important to point out that large corporation are in charge of the specifications regardless of whether they're coming from WHATWG or the W3C. The difference between the two is only how many large corporations have a say.

        2. steelpillow Silver badge

          Re: The problem lies deeper

          "If Mozilla would just have said "no" to new web standards more often, those standards wouldn't have gotten off the ground and nobody would have had to implement them."

          More likely, Mozilla would have fallen behind its commercially-driven competitors and faded away. Amazon is about the only shopping site left that I can use with javascript disabled, and one wonders how long that can last.

          1. Christian Berger Silver badge

            Re: The problem lies deeper

            "More likely, Mozilla would have fallen behind its commercially-driven competitors and faded away."

            The question is, back when Mozilla had a large market share (it's still significant) would features they did not support be adapted by the web?

            When Apple decided to abandon Flash, they had no bigger market share than Mozilla has now. So what did fade, Apple or Flash?

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: The problem lies deeper

              Could you get away with telling a Firefox user to install Chrome to use your website? Possibly.

              Could you get away with telling an iPhone user to use a different phone to access your website? Probably not.

              1. Stuart 22

                Re: The problem lies deeper

                "Could you get away with telling a Firefox user to install Chrome to use your website? Possibly."

                Well yes. My default and preferred browser is Vivaldi. But I have to Fire up Fox occasionally to complete transactions on a couple of websites.

                Surprisingly the main two culprits are the internet-savvy Nominet & Zen.

              2. Christian Berger Silver badge

                Re: The problem lies deeper

                "Could you get away with telling a Firefox user to install Chrome to use your website? Possibly."

                Well we are already seeing that companies with bad websites abusing Javascript, tend to get less customers. Of course they blame that on Amazon, but then again, Amazon has a very decent website which largely works without Javascript. I think that at least part of the success of Amazon is caused by their website.

        3. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: The problem lies deeper

          A number of years back now, Mozilla decided that it would be a great thing if the web became a universal platform that could replace the operating system, and their support for various nastiness like Web Assembly, etc., comes from that philosophy.

          I disagree with that philosophy so strongly that it's the primary reason why my support for Mozilla has grown much less enthusiastic than it used to be.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: History shows that no one will pay for a Web browser

        Since MS included one free in the OS.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: History shows that no one will pay for a Web browser

          Too true, Mage. I remember what the downvoters don't; that Netscape Navigator, the most developed browser in the world, cost $40 to buy until Microsoft gave everyone IE 3 for free.

          I also remember the for all the froofaraw about MS contravening standards (that often were not in place fast enough to keep pace with what developers were demanding), NN had it's own set of non-standard features (like Layers), but was given a pass by the vocal majority.

          Free Browsers came directly out of that pissing match. Anyone who doesn't believe all the companies making them would charge for browsers if they could is living in a dream world of faries and magic and Eskimos.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: History shows that no one will pay for a Web browser

            "Anyone who doesn't believe all the companies making them would charge for browsers if they could"

            I don't believe that companies would charge for them if they could. Being able to use them to mine and monetize user data is not only more profitable, but it takes a lot less work.

      3. John Lilburne

        Re: Not buying it - This is a badly timed Slippery Slope

        Didn't they get $300 million a year from Google back in 2012 in order to be the default search engine?

        https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-paying-mozilla-300-million-per-year-for-search-deal/

        Then yahoo were paying them $300 million for the last three years, and now we are back with Google again.

        https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-14/google-pays-to-put-search-engine-back-on-firefox-browser-in-u-s

        Can someone explain how it is that they've blown through $1.5 billion?

        1. daldred

          Re: Really?

          > Can someone explain how it is that they've blown through $1.5 billion?

          Over five years? Well, you can see how much they spend and on what in their financial accounts, of course. Try https://assets.mozilla.net/annualreport/2016/2016_Mozilla_Audited_Financial_Statement.pdf

          1. John Lilburne

            Re: Really?

            Quarter of a $billion a year in software development. WTF it is a browser its not as if the problem is unknown and its not as if they are starting from scratch each year, and they happen to have a bunch of freetards contributing to it. Then a another $60 million of typists.

        2. Rob D.

          Re: Not buying it - This is a badly timed Slippery Slope

          > Can someone explain how it is that they've blown through $1.5 billion?

          Currently declaring about $350m for 2016/17 expenditure on software development (lion's share), marketing and administration as the major outgoings. They've declared assets which equate to a bit more than the one year operating costs, but $1.5bn over six years is maybe not so far off.

          https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/documents/

        3. King Jack
          Coat

          Re: blown through $1.5 billion?

          I think it's more like suck through $1.5 billion, like through rolled up $100 bills.

      4. iRadiate

        Re: Not buying it - This is a badly timed Slippery Slope

        Money has to come from somewhere so why can't a tiny amount of the normal ad revenue be shared with Mozilla and any other developer of web browsers?

        E.g. I visit CNN. An ad is displayed. CNN get paid a small amount when someone clicks on that ad but a small percentage of that payment also goes to the company that developed the browser that allowed the user to visit CNN in the first place.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not buying it - This is a badly timed Slippery Slope

      Trying to compete with Google.

    3. Carl D

      Re: Not buying it - This is a badly timed Slippery Slope

      "It'll be interesting to see if Firefox stays bundled with Linux installs..."

      One of the first things I do these days after a Linux Mint install is remove Firefox and install Pale Moon.

  2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Kiss FF goodbye.

    You want to force ads down our throat? I'll counter by not downloading your products, not visiting your site, & not doing anything that rewards you financially for your actions.

    As long as FF has ads embedded in the platform is how long I'll avoid you like the plague.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

      Wow, next people will be accusing Mozilla of cultural appropriation for dressing up in commercial ads.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

      As long as FF has ads embedded in the platform is how long I'll avoid you like the plague.

      Me too. No reason at all why Firefox can not build another product and charge for that - Bugzilla, Filezilla etc. Think what would have happened if Google decided to start putting ads on Chrome.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

        Think what would have happened if Google decided to start putting ads on Chrome.

        But that's what Google does only instead of embedding them in the browser they put them on web pages. Chrome is merely a way to get those ads to and spy on punters. You can close the loop on the internet when you're the size of Google. Mozilla is somewhat smaller and hence stuck inside the browser but I wonder if this won't force an expansion on the back end or will these be third party hosted maladware.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

        "Think what would have happened if Google decided to start putting ads on Chrome."

        Google does something even worse than putting ads in Chrome -- it uses Chrome as a surveillance device to inform its ad business.

    3. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

      You want to force ads down our throat? I'll counter by not downloading your products, not visiting your site, & not doing anything that rewards you financially for your actions.

      @Shadow Systems...I'm curious to know something - if you're currently getting benefit from Firefox by using it as a web browser, what are you doing now to reward Mozilla for providing you with that?

      1. dephormation.org.uk
        Meh

        Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

        Always bemused by arguments like this.

        Its not the end-user's fault if a developer can't find a sustainable, legal, business model.

        If the developer can't or won't charge for a product, and people don't value it enough to buy it, the product will fail... and no one will care.

        If the developer can & will charge for a product, and people value it enough to pay, they they succeed.

        That model of commerce served IT for decades, without secretly screwing over users, and without betraying them to adtech and organised crime.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

          If the developer can't or won't charge for a product, and people don't value it enough to buy it, the product will fail... and no one will care.

          No, some, maybe many WILL care. Just in insufficient numbers to do something about it beforehand, having been conditioned by thirty years of various forms of "free" software. Fag packet maths suggest that if Mozilla's activities were funded directly by users they would need to charge about $2.50 a year to break even (some uncertainty around user numbers mind you).

          Is $2.50 a year too much for Firefox and other Mozilla software? It would seem so, given that annual contributions to Mozilla are around $5.5m a year, so on average about 2-3 cents per user per year. Its the same with Wikipedia (or the Guardian, or even niche sites like Gridwatch) - many people find these useful, few click on the links to help pay the costs. And many (like the Reg) don't even bother trying a subscription model.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

            "Is $2.50 a year too much for Firefox and other Mozilla software?"

            For the post-Quantum Firefox? Yes. For the pre-Australis FIrefox? I paid a whole lot more than that back then.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

            I'd gladly pay $2.50 a year for this purpose; I pay more for many other projects I use. However, the problems remain, and they are many:

            There are those who would rather not identify themselves in order to make the payment at all, and even those who would not dislike this would probably not want to identify themselves to have the browser disable this for them, as they've just replaced one identifier with another. My payment in the year won't remove mozilla's problem, and they will keep going with this, so I have to ask whether they will actually care about my desire for privacy. If they are going to use my donation to create an ad tracking system, there are more deserving projects that respect me as a user, and the money would be better used paying them. Furthermore, there are users that should not be expected to pay for something that is, in fact, open source. I view the fact that firefox and related products can be used in less developed countries for free so that the people can use the internet to improve a situation I don't have to endure as a major advantage, and I would oppose any attempt to restrict that.

            In short, I will donate to mozilla if they show they will respect me as a user and all other users by not inserting this advertisement crap, that they respect their open source roots and will keep the product free and open to alterations, and that this will continue and not be based on a short-term financial report. They haven't been doing that.

          3. Alumoi

            Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

            Is $2.50 a year too much for Firefox and other Mozilla software?

            It's waay too much. Did we ask for Australis? Pocket? New tab page? Opt-in telemetry? Killing extensions?

            Let them start listening and maybe users will support them.

          4. emullinsabq
            Linux

            Re: Kiss FF goodbye.

            No, some, maybe many WILL care. Just in insufficient numbers to do something

            Supply and demand in action.

            Is $2.50 a year too much for Firefox and other Mozilla software? It would seem so, given...many (like the Reg) don't even bother trying a subscription model.

            Supply and demand again.

            Content creators think their stuff is worth more than it is, that is the fundamental problem.

            Then you have Mozilla who have been fscking up FF for the last several years because they can't be bothered to listen to users. You want users to cough up for a browser? I don't know if it's even possible, but I assure you it is impossible in a competitive area like browsers when you constantly ignore users.

            You have to actually get something for your donation besides feels, you know. What I have gotten is a collection of browsers because FF went to crap. At this point I have no plans to even have it installed again. MS can sorta get away with this behavior because they aren't in a severely competitive situation, though slowly, consumers are bypassing the Wintel stranglehold with phones, and it gets moreso every year. You treat users like crap, and they want to leave. How long it takes depends largely on how competitive the field is.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Which reminds me...

    I just installed a new Mint complete with FF - I need to work out all over again how to get rid of pocket.

    (In case you're worried, ublock origin and noscript are already on there; that's a reflex action).

    But on the subject of the subject - I'm not quite sure how FF are planning to show these adverts, but if they do, they won't be showing them to me.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Re: Which reminds me...

      On new browser windows, when Options / General / Home page is set to default of "Mozilla Firefox Start Page" then the content below the search text control is things like "Top Sites" (your recent most visited links) and "Recommended by Pocket" , links to charming articles like "Why the scientific finding that trees 'sleep' at night is beautiful" and "The Perks of a Play-in-the-Mud Educational Philosophy".

      (The above described as on FF59.0.2)

      If the mooted "horrors!" are as unobtrusive and ignorable as these suggested links on an otherwise blank startup page, then this is much ado about nothing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If the mooted "horrors!" are as unobtrusive and ignorable

        unfortunately it always starts gently, regardless of the field. Think what came out of originally inspired ideas, like google, think "social media" and "community-based sharing". Think terrorist legislation that came for the communists, sorry, terrorists, sorry, extremists, sorry, perverts, sorry, children.

    2. Peter Prof Fox

      Solution

      Use the New Tab Override extension.

      The fact you can't have a setting in config to have new tab => home page tells you how strongly Moz want to strong arm you into their sponsor's clutter.

      1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

        Re: Solution

        I like my new tabs blank, so I've just unchecked everything from the New Tab preferences, but agree it's a pretty poor move if you now need an extension to customize this.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Solution

        You don't need an extension to do this. Firefox already lets you disable it, along with any or all of the other stuff they want to put on the new pages.

    3. davidp231

      Re: Which reminds me...

      "how to get rid of pocket."

      about:config

      browser.pocket.enable false

      that should get rid of it.

      1. PeeKay

        Re: Which reminds me...

        "how to get rid of pocket."

        about:config

        browser.pocket.enable false

        As well as the above, I go as far as searching for pocket, and removing the URL's it visits too. Can't be too safe.

        As for inbuilt ads - adverts have never been a source of malware, ever, have they? /s

      2. Justin Clift

        Re: Which reminds me...

        "browser.pocket.enable" doesn't seem to exist in Firefox 52.x (ESR), on CentOS 7.x.

        "extensions.pocket.enabled" does though, and seems like the right one.

        1. davidp231

          Re: Which reminds me...

          "browser.pocket.enable" doesn't seem to exist in Firefox 52.x (ESR), on CentOS 7.x."

          Indeed. my about:config was based on FF43.0.4* (win32) so later ones will most likely be in a subtly different option.

          *I won't go beyond that as there is so much bloat in later versions to disable I can't be arsed trawling through about:config or finding out that I can no longer disable said bloat because the option has been removed in the newer version.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "client_id": "26288a14-5cc4-d14f-ae0a-bb01ef45be9c"

    This is personal data that identifies whos using what browser. Like an ip address.

    Sorry but its a no-no under GDPR.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Sorry but its a no-no under GDPR."

      Please show the relevant GDPR article that states that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Article 4(1) defines “personal data” as follows (all emphasis added unless otherwise stated):

        ‘personal data’ means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person;

        Clear enough for you?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Recital 24 states:

        The processing of personal data of data subjects who are in the Union by a controller or processor not established in the Union should also be subject to this Regulation when it is related to the monitoring of the behaviour of such data subjects in so far as their behaviour takes place within the Union. In order to determine whether a processing activity can be considered to monitor the behaviour of data subjects, it should be ascertained whether natural persons are tracked on the internet including potential subsequent use of personal data processing techniques which consist of profiling a natural person, particularly in order to take decisions concerning her or him or for analysing or predicting her or his personal preferences, behaviours and attitudes.

        Data collection and processing to track and understand shoppers’ behaviors therefore likely qualifies as personal data.

        1. philnc

          It would have been far better if they'd classified that data as _personal property_ and established a value for it like Copyright's compulsory license for music, then provided a private right of action against infringers. _That_ would create a serious incentive for the proper handling of your info and returned us all to our traditiinal role as customers instead of product.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        GDPR

        Under GDPR there is an explicit legal requirement that all services require an explicit Opt-IN by the user. By automatically enabling a service which requires the user to Opt-OUT this contravenes GDPR, resulting in a fine from the 25th May 2018. FYI, the European Data Protection Board has reportedly informed the various national Data Protection Registrars not to be lenient in respect of fines.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Holmes

      Something else I don't get is the whole "analytics are done on the local browser client so we don't need to slurp your personal information server side (Halo)" bunkum.

      Surely they can reconstruct the user's preferences from logging the specific ads requested by the client post analysis. If the client realises I've looked at a page showing ovens and I've done a search for kettles the ID will be linked to someone who is in the market for kitchen appliances (or even a new kitchen?) when adverts for toasters and Dishwashers are requested. If all these requests are linked to an "anonymous" client ID (as noted by the AC OP) quite a profile can be built up unless the client ID is changed/flushed every time the browser is started (or on demand).

  5. Dwarf Silver badge

    Goodbye

    Adverts = deinstall

    1. Rob D.

      Re: Goodbye

      Adverts = install the extension that controls them

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So clarify for me?

    If I set my startpage to something like https://www.startpage.com does that mean I avoid all of this sponsored content?

    I can live with not having the quick links.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: So clarify for me?

      Apparently not, because all this ad stuff is going to happen when you create a new tab, not when you start FF.

      I can't say I'm very bothered by it all. If I start a new tab it's because I'm going to type a URL to get somewhere, so I'll likely not pay any attention to any clutter below the URL bar.

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Can someone tell me....

    what the hell this means: "... users need to trade their privacy and data in exchange for personalized, high quality experiences."???? Exactly what does this buzz phrase of "personalized, high quality experiences" mean??? I just want to go to a website... I don't need "personalized" and sure as hell don't want ads for stuff I bought a week ago. And no... you can't have my personal data because "ads". Dammit, that's another browse headed for the bitbucket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can someone tell me....

      Go read the linked article, not the quotes. It makes more sense.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can someone tell me....

      "what does this buzz phrase of "personalized, high quality experiences" mean???"

      I don't know, you don't know, and if the people using it were to try to explain it, I probably wouldn't believe them anyway.

      What I do know is that the BBC use those words as an excuse for why everyone now needs to sign in to BBC iPlayer (in my case, primarily iPlayer Radio). This despite me having multiple decades of honest licence paying.

      Y'know what? Some of us don't need, and don't particularly want, 'more "personalized, high quality experiences"', whether it's iPlayer or some other excuse for the slurping of personal information.

      Some of us out here that pay these people's wages want more transparency, fewer accounts+passwords and less tracking. Please? Pretty please?

      All this web slurping is likely to be pointless anyway quite soon, outside the corporate world. In a few years time the vast majority of punters will be using (maybe forced into using) mobile phone apps to do stuff that they would, historically, have been able to do with a fairly basic ad-free, Flash-free (java and js-free, and) browser. The kind of thing which Berners-Lee was thinking about, and some of us still do.

      How do we make it happen?

      [edit: mention java, js, and various other unnecessary junk which now are taken for granted :(]

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WaterFox has been happily running on my "browsing" machine for a few months now. Time to install it on the development PC too. .

  9. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Bye bye FF...

    Bye bye. You've now lost another supporter. Time to browse for another browser...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye bye FF...

      Which one are you going to pay for?

      1. earl grey Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Bye bye FF...

        "Which one are you going to pay for?"

        ODFO

  10. Wolfclaw

    Thanks for the memories Firefox, but you have sold out and the latest version is just too buggy with a lot of sites. Uninstalled and hello Chrome, now how do I stop these HTML5/Flash videos form autoplaying !

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Uninstalled and hello Chrome

      You don't like your browser maker "selling out" so you're moving to Chrome?

      Just wait until you find out about Google...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You missed the out joke icon

  11. Doctor_Wibble
    Paris Hilton

    I hadn't realised what Pocket was

    When I first saw it appear on the toolbar I thought it was a function along the lines of 'save to read later', not something that involved yet another third party like those share bar things or even those 'copy this link' buttons. I removed the icon anyway as for me it was just clutter,

    The wake-up on these came when giving someone a direct i.e. non-published link to a data file (not porn or warez, crazy I know) that was too big to sensibly email, they did 'copy link' of some kind from the email with the details and immediately there was an attempt to fetch the file from whatever (legitimate!) service had processed the 'sharing' of that link between an email and their browser.

    I think it was simply a 'does it exist' probe rather than an attempt to download the whole thing but I quickly killed the temporary thttpd anyway before renaming the file and using that old fashioned speaking thing to communicate the change.

    1. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: I hadn't realised what Pocket was

      I wish there was an easier way to do a new-install configuration. Install these extensions, disable this that and the other, and change the UI in the following ways.

      It seems like the more configuring I have to manually do after installing a product, the less I wind up liking it. When I first installed Mint with MATE, I think I made three whole changes.... contrast with spending longer doing config changes on XP than the install and patching process took! (Until I discovered nlite and made a really good install image, anyhow... but that's now years ago.)

      1. davidp231

        Re: I hadn't realised what Pocket was

        "I wish there was an easier way to do a new-install configuration. Install these extensions, disable this that and the other, and change the UI in the following ways."

        Install, configure then take a backup of the relevant identities directory and profiles.ini file. You'll find adding that to a subsequent new install (even on a different machine, or OS), everything will be as you set it without having to chance any config options. Bookmarks, history, passwords, installed extensions - it's all there. So adding that to a fresh install before launching FF will save a lot of config time.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the ad's are only on the "New Tab" screen and appear below my pinned content then while not exactly happy it's liveable as my "New Tab" is full of pages I've pinned. Though since I still use 52ESR on some machines as I need Java support this is a little moot.

  13. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

    Still one version back

    I stopped FF upgrading to the last version because of the changes with addons/plugins.

    I was waiting for it to settle down but this is not encouraging.

    I usually run two different browsers on my main system so that I can log into the same site with two different IDs at the same time. Mainly for email.

    So Chrome and FF at the moment. Perhaps a try with Opera again?

    1. paulf Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Still one version back

      I hurriedly switched to v52.x ESR last summer before the main update channel moved to v57(?) which modified user profiles to be incompatible with a move back to v52 ESR. I'll cling to v52 ESR for the next few months until it goes out of support then I'll have to sort an alternative. Pale Moon is the current favourite as it runs all the old FF add ons. YMMV

      1. salamamba too

        Re: Still one version back

        I also reinstalled an older version of firefox, mainly as I didn't like the alterations to noscript for the new versions. I'm happy blocking all scripts by default, and then only allowing the ones I want each time. Others might think this is a faff, but I prefer knowing that any access is my choice/fault.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still one version back

        I'll cling to v52 ESR for the next few months until it goes out of support then I'll have to sort an alternative

        Why look for an alternative, it doesn't stop working when they drop support.

        On this machine I'm using firefox 17.0.11esr without many problems (the only problem is with some https sites where I don't have the cert). My main machine has firefox 38.8.0esr which I may up to 45.9.0 at some time in the future if I can be bothered.

      3. King Jack
        Facepalm

        Re: Still one version back

        Just download and install Waterfox. It's exactly the same as the old Firefox but without any of the bullshit.

        All your old addons and customisations work. You can only tell it's not Firefox because the logo is blue. It's on version 56.x now. It literally takes 2 minutes.

    2. davidp231

      Re: Still one version back

      Why bother? Opera is just a dressed up version of Chrome.

  14. msknight

    Be Brave...

    ... time to try Brave.

    In fact, if Firefox is open source, it probably won't be long before someone forks the thing and we'll have an alternative anyway.

    1. AJ MacLeod

      Re: Be Brave...

      That's happened a few times already, there are a couple of *fox forks (and Palemoon which I have been using since Firefox dropped ALSA support and drowned the dissent of unhappy users last year.)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    organisation has already squeezed in a few sponsored links on the “Firefox New Tab”

    I don't see nufin, I wonder why...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    swears it cannot possibly identify you

    I think I heard that before... more than once. More than twice... more than I care to remember. In short, this assurance means shit, because EVEN IF they can't / won't do it NOW, it doesn't mean they can't / won't do it next week, month, or year. But hey, the message's for the other 99.999999% who can sleep safe and sound now with the knowledge that the Mozilla Foundation is the only one they can REALLY trust!

  17. Mage Silver badge

    Daft

    "add sponsored links to its browser in January 2018"

    I said this was daft then.

    Pocket is pointless and potentially invasive spyware (wanted pages saved on 3rd party server instead of users saving them).

    !!!

    !!!

    As I've said frequently, they have lost the plot totally. On GUI, research, customisation, plug-ins etc. Still using Firefox 52ESR on desktop. The Mobile version is poo, though works. Very bad phone GUI though better than it was.

  18. heyrick Silver badge

    Dear Pocket/Mozilla

    "that users need to trade their privacy and data in exchange for personalized, high quality experiences,"

    First up, that's bullshit. Let me reword it truthfully: you need users to accept trading their privacy and data in exchange for apparently more specific advertising.

    Secondly, have you even considered that us Europeans have more stringent "rights"? Use whichever search engine you're in bed with to look up GDPR.

    Thirdly, doing business with a company implies a measure of trust and confidence (I know, I know, so old fashioned). A company that is willing to use dishonest means to profile me without permission or notification for advertising (that is, stuff I notice on more than one site in a day or two (depending on memory and wakefulness)) is written down in a notepad as a list of companies to never do business with. I flag DNT and I scramble cookies. Anything that doesn't give me random adverts is disregarding my choices, and anything that is noticed through this is blacklisted.

    Finally, anything that is capable of uniquely identifying a user for advert profiling etc is capable of uniquely identify a user, period. Can we please get away from this idiotic mentality that one is "anonymous" if you aren't known by name? There are many many ways to identify a person uniquely. Will GPS and WiFi SSIDs be a part of this identification? If so, I live rural. Very rural. Congratulations, you've just narrowed it down to one of two people on planet Earth, and looking to see whether it's animé/geek or crochet will determine which. You don't need my name to identify me (though a location will give an address so it can be looked up)... Anonymous is anonymous and useless for advert profiling. Anything else is not anonymous.

  19. DaveTheRave

    Offer an alternative

    Small sub to be able to turn the feature off?

  20. steelpillow Silver badge

    Extensions and stuff

    Presumably an extension will quickly appear to disable this horror. Maybe an upgrade to AdBlock Plus, maybe a new one.

    But when I look at the growing list of privacy and UX extensions I have installed, with accompanying pain every time I set up a new PC, the search for an alternative is beginning to creep closer,

    Meanwhile I notice Linus is not yet accepting commercial backdoors and data leaks into his OS kernel, nor is GNU building adware into Grub or Gnome, and they don't seem to be suffering a dearth of sponsorship.

    Mozilla is not and never can be a Google, Apple or Microsoft. It originally gained its sponsorship from certain quarters precisely because it was the healthy alternative. It grew dominant for a short time only because it was outperforming the overly-complacent commercial competition and that is unlikely to happen again. If it fails in its traditional role then its backers will all pick one of the many willing replacements lurking around.

  21. MrKrotos

    Bye bye FF :(

    Real shame as it was my fav browser, time to try out Palemoon and Waterfox me thinks...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mozilla is dead

    Mozilla the open source foundation is dead, now they run Mozilla corporation like a generic startup. And Firefox will hit the wall.

    So much stupidity, FirefoxOS and Servo dead, Firefox still XUL and XPCOM based (but not compatible with addons on purpose - why? the UI is still XUL). And now they change the UI every months, and slurp data at random (like redirecting all DNS requests to Mozilla corp server last month). Don't use Firefox and Thunderbird. Use Chromium and K9-Mail.

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The Mozilla Foundation has revealed that links to sponsored posts potential malware vectors have started to appear in its Firefox browser and pledged to deliver them without invading users' privacy.

    Anyone shoving something into my browser other than what I requested is an invader.

  24. picturethis
    Pint

    One word..

    Palemoon?

    I've been running it on Mint 17.2 for several months now, seems to do the job and installs the plugins that I'm interested in.

  25. adam payne Silver badge

    One question Mozilla, can I turn this 'function' off?

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      You can, yes.

  26. 89724905708169238590784I93056703497430967343467734786478523498635923556485449963138571485_LONG_GONE Bronze badge

    Goodbye Firefox

    Hello Pale moon!

  27. tiggity Silver badge

    not surprised

    Like others I am on on an old FF version so I can still use the addins I want (xul lovelies with no replacemanet in new low functionality chromey style FF addon world ).

    The last few years have all seemed to be about alienating users & making it harder and harder to have a secure & customized browser (addon needed for cookie management as they remove fine grained control from native menu system - WTF?)

    Theres no point becoming a chrome clone - if I want chrome alike I can install the real thing

  28. David Austin

    Fallen out of Love with FireFox

    Been using it as my main browser Since 2003 when Blaster struck (Back on my Win98/XP Dual Booter), and until last year, I loved it.

    Their push to kill XUL extensions before the WebExtentions API's were finished meant the six plugins I used to make the web work the way I wanted all stopped; spent the last two months trying to replicate the functionality with modern extensions, but it's just not possible (Protip; Not having a frikkin' toolbar API tells you everything you need to know about their attitude to portability, flexibility, and legacy)

    So: If it looks like Chrome, serves ads like Chrome, and has less extensions than Chrome... why not just use Chrome?

    Or even better, Palemoon or Waterfox, which is the decision I'm currently trying to make.

  29. AntiSol

    How Cute

    Firefox is still a thing?

    Looks like their efforts to drive users away haven't been as successful as they'd hoped, so now they're upping the ante.

  30. thexfile

    Firefox is down and not coming up.

  31. Milton Silver badge

    *Free* remains the problem

    Just as with Google, Facebook and Twitter, the free part is actually the sickness at the heart of all these privacy, advert, intrusion and manipulation problems.

    If something claims to be "free" ... it's almost certainly a marketurd's lie. There is no "free" if there are conditions attached. BOGOF in the supermakret is not free, because there is a condition attached: you have to buy one. "Free if you fill in our poll" is not free. "Free if we can seize your data and analyse it to try and sell you shit" is not free.

    Thus we have Facebook Cancer: sheer exploitation in the name of almost insane greed.

    But people are eternally stupid, lazy and greedy, and so they keep licking up "free" and getting shafted.

    My radical view is that the law should absolutely prohibit any private companies collecting one scrap of data more than is required for operational compliance, purchasing, delivery, provision of services etc. Not a single item of data that has no operational use. Creation of such data would also be banned. Past purchase history would be an exception for obvious reasons, but even then your supplier would be flatly prohibited from any collective crunching on that data beyond preparing accounts. There would be none of this "Other things you might like ..." garbage, which is always laughably wrong anyway.

    Why would this be good? Because Facebook and Google etc would then have to start charging for services. Whether it's $2/month for Facebook or £1.00 for 10,000 Google searches, or whatever, they would have to charge for their service, and you would revert to being what you always should have been: a paying customer with rights, dignity, privacy and very clear protections and entitlements.

    If based on a degree of volume, you might even find that the 'net wasn't quite so full of shit, like photos of some idiot's lunch, or endless Twittorrhoea. Hell, people might even re-learn how to remember things instead of turning to Google every two minutes.

    (If we charged just 1p for every ten emails sent, we could end the scourge of spam, get people to think more about the value of what they use on the 'net, and generate billions for a fund for internet security improvements or whatever. The disgusting Google model of spying on your private correspondence in order to sell shit would never have happened.)

    Other benefits: forced into a paying model, the giants could at last be challenged by upstarts. We could see decent social media rivals to Facebook popping up, ready to compete on price, speed, privacy, ethics and efficiency. DDG could transition from being a niche engine (which sucks some Google stuff anyway) with a stupid off-putting name, to a genuine competitor to Google.

    Yet another advantage is that adverts would abruptly have to move from the "throw shit at a wall and see what sticks" mode we see today—where internet ads are actually even worse, shittier and more amateurish than radio ads, something you wouldn't have thought possible—to becoming creative, imaginative, entertaining and attention-catching in good ways. Think of the difference between an old Carling (swill) ad with the Mission Impossible squirrel versus today's witless "He who drinks Foster's" (even worse swill) trash ads. Ads don't have to be clumsy garbage. We simply need to create a playing field where they cost enough to be worth doing properly.

    Remember when the internet had choice aplenty, and you could look for what worked best for you, and vote with your feet? When the 'net actually felt lilke a place of opportunity and innovation and new ideas?

    If we (or our governments, which is the obvious weak point in all this, being run by lobbyist-funded morons) were prepared to think radically and creatively about Facebook Cancer we could actually solve it quite easily. It needs only legislation, and the market would then sort itself out (while squealing like pigs, I grant you).

    We really just need to wake the f*** up and start thinking about what kind of 'net we want for our grand-children.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    instead of all this data slurping, I would sooner pay for a version of firefox that does not show adverts.

    in fact, I would sooner it was an option of all free to use, but adverts pays for our lighting bill software or platforms gave a ad free paid service.

    A lot of free android apps have this, pay a small amount for the add free version.

  33. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
    Joke

    ugh.... sellouts....

    time to switch to edge.....

  34. Lord_Beavis
    Pirate

    I don't know about you...

    But I'm already seeing this bullshit.

    Gonna be busy adding sites to my DNS blacklist.

  35. Lord_Beavis
    Pirate

    New Tab Override Add-on

    New Tab Override works... for now.

  36. TheNotSoEvilEngineer

    The Mozilla firefox of old is dead...

    Use Brave instead.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Childcatcher

    XXX Where it counts

    When I get a new Firefox I go into About:Config and XXX out any Http or Https (i.e xxxhttps: of xxxhttp:) link to kill those Dragons.

    The worst that happens is a link in the address bar prefaced with xxx that I can remove If I give it permission to use my computer system for it's own purposes.

    If any add in does not have an option to switch off calls home to mother or links elsewhere it gets the boot.

  38. Mister Goldiloxx

    I have ONE (and only one) piece of software that crashes daily on both my Linux laptop AND my Android phone: Firefox. As such, I'm leaning towards just removing it altogether...now.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The royal WE?

    “We’ve come to accept a premise around advertising today that users need to trade their privacy and data in exchange for personalized, high quality experiences, ...”

    Not all of us have! The highest quality user experience I can define is no adverts at all. When I want you I'll call you. Until then leave me in peace. I'd happily donate for a good quality bloat-free non-intrusive product, but I wouldn't give a plugged nickel for any of the current browsers.

  40. VK2FVAX

    Circling the drain..

    Circling the drain.

    *Sigh* I've been using Firefox since it was Phoenix out of the mozilla project. I've resisted the urge to move to other browsers. Sadly.. especially with Pocket .. they're starting to annoy me almost sufficiently to want to experiment with another browser. :(

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