Firefox's Interest Dashboard provides you with Internet interest information

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 14, 2014

Mozilla has released a first experimental version of the Firefox Internet Dashboard extension. First mentioned back in August 2014 it analyzes the browsing history to display information about it to the user.

After you have installed the extension and loaded its local page for the first time you are informed that it may take a couple of moments to generate the report.

The speed in which this is processed depends on the size of the browsing history first and foremost, as it is analyzed by the extension. You may also receive a notification at the top stating that the extension requires 30 days of browsing data for improved accuracy.

Once done it displays various information about your browsing habits including the following information:

  • How many sites you have visited on average per day.
  • Your top ranking interest.
  • The time spent per day.
  • The top visited sites.
  • All interest categories sorted by rank and whether visits have increased or decreased in recent time.

firefox interest dashboard


You can display results for a particular category that you are interested in, for instance to list the websites that the add-on associated with the category.

Firefox displays subcategories, for instance television and film under arts & entertainment, site titles, urls and when the sites were visited in the browser.

The categorization uses keyword text analysis and site identifications. A site like ESPN is associated with the sports category for example.

All data is handled locally according to Mozilla. No information are transferred to Mozilla or third-party servers in the process.

So what can this be used for right now?

Not a lot to be perfectly honest. While you can use it to analyze your surfing habits over time, or re-open websites that you have visited in the past, the information are not really that useful apart from analyzing browsing habits for scientific purposes or individually.

One thing that you can use it for is to check if the data deletion routines that you run regularly do their job properly or not.

I did not notice for example that Firefox seems to keep information about how often I have visited sites even though I tend to delete the browsing history regularly in the program.

If you have an idea why the count is still shown on my system let me know in the comment section below please.

So, it may be useful as some sort of check that you perform after you clean the browsing history either natively or by running a third-party program such as CCleaner to make sure that all the information got deleted.

The extension lacks features that Mozilla mentioned back in August. There is for instance no option yet to add a site listed in the dashboard to the bookmarks or to remove it from the listing.

Recommendations are also not included yet. This is probably the most interesting aspect if it works correctly. The main idea is to list sites as recommendations that match a user's interests.

Now You: Is that something that you would install? Why or why not?

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Author Rating
5 based on 1 votes
Software Name
Firefox Interest Dashboard
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  1. sircapu said on November 16, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Mozilla seems to be getting kinda shady. The FAQ states:

    “Will the Interest Dashboard store data on the server?
    No, all of the interest analysis and categorization is done on the client-side of your browser. No personal data is stored on Mozilla’s servers.”

    yet the privacy policy states:

    “Data Sharing and Retention. While you have the Add-on installed, your Interest data may be shared with publishers and content recommendation and discovery partners participating in this Add-on so such partners may return to you recommendations and content based on your Interests. These partners will not have access to your Interest data if you uninstall the Add-on.”

    And then today Mozilla removed all(!) negatives reviews of the addon from AMO:


  2. jasray said on November 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I would question the privacy issue and the use of information gleaned from a personal browsing experience. I mean, I think I am doing everything I can to not provide such information.

  3. William said on November 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Works awesome!

  4. Khai said on November 15, 2014 at 10:07 am

    well they wasted their time on that didn’t they?

  5. Chris Granger said on November 15, 2014 at 9:31 am

    The passwords dialog keeps track of when passwords were last used, but maybe it also tracks how many times they’re used? This is a guess. What about about:permissions? Do you delete that when you clear your cache? It tracks visits…

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 15, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Chris, when I check Page Info after clearing the browser cache it shows 0 or 1 visits only. I have uninstalled the add-on yesterday evening and installed it again today, and now it is showing better values for visited sites. So, it is somehow caching those information regardless of whether you delete the browsing cache or not and re-process the data.

      1. Daniel said on November 15, 2014 at 2:38 pm

        Have done same without success either.

        For exceptional situations… best would perhaps be to use something like Maxthon’s recent Nitro browser since it doesn’t sync with any ‘server’.

  6. Oxa said on November 15, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Firefox could be great if they knew how to channel their energy. Instead we just get more worthless crap from Mozilla.

  7. Tom Hawack said on November 15, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Great for any 24/7/365 stoned immaculate user who never remembers where, when, why he has traveled the Web and the Seven Seas.

    “So what can this be used for right now?
    Not a lot to be perfectly honest.[…]”

    Martin, you took the words out of my keyboard :)

    Joke aside, undoubtedly worth being mentioned. This is not even any longer a trend, it is a habit of our modern western world to deliver one tool after another with always the same aim in mind : know what you do to know yourself better and while you’re at it, say thanks to statistics. This is the popular aspect of psycho-analysis brought to the masses when one can forget himself and look around rather than his own two feet. Does anyone really believe that a man as Albert Einstein for instance would have lost his time with stats concerning his habits? One of the idiocies of our era, unless business gives it a sens.

    1. JohnMWhite said on November 15, 2014 at 4:50 am

      One thing that troubles me about all these navel-gazing tools is that they can bolster the bubble-effect, where you get so caught up in your interest in your own interests that you never really venture into any other realms of thought. Search engines and news websites already feed you the sorts of stories and sites you already want, so chances continue to dwindle that you’ll be exposed to something new that might shake up your thought process a bit.

      I learned so much from the Internet in the early days, when you could stumble across seemingly anything by accident. Now even though I try to avoid the bubble as much as possible, it’s rare that I really find something that isn’t the sort of thing I’m already familiar with.

    2. anon said on November 15, 2014 at 3:08 am

      It’s used for ads and sold to any companies interested with it. Pretty much every browser from big companies do this.

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