Firefox Looking Glass extension: what it is?

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 16, 2017
Updated • Dec 17, 2017

If you take a look at the installed extensions of your version of Firefox right now, you may notice a new extension called Looking Glass listed among them.

You can display all user installed extensions on about:addons. Chance is very high that you did not install Looking Glass, and the description "MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS." does not really reveal anything about the extension.

Created by the PUG Experience Group, it at least lists names of the actual developers next to the listing.

looking glass firefox

First thought is probably that it is some kind of malware that was installed automatically. Good news is, it is not.

Looking Glass is an official Mozilla extension. The project's GitHub page reveals that "Looking Glass is a collaboration between Mozilla and the makers of Mr. Robot to provide a shared world experience".

The Support article on the Firefox website describes Looking Glass as an Alternate Reality Game to "further your immersion into the Mr Robto universe" without going into details. It appears that users need to opt in to the game, but it is not explained where you need to go and what you need to do to start it.

A quick look in the extension's manifest file reveals that it runs on three sites only:*,* and

Mozilla provides an explanation for the cross-promotion:

The Mr. Robot series centers around the theme of online privacy and security. One of the 10 guiding principles of Mozilla's mission is that individuals' security and privacy on the internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional. The more people know about what information they are sharing online, the more they can protect their privacy.

Update: Gizmodo reports that Mozilla will move the Mr. Robot extension Looking Glass to Mozilla AMO and stop pushing it to Firefox automatically.

Here is what is wrong with Looking Glass

Looking Glass gets installed automatically as part of Firefox's studies feature. Unlike other studies, it is listed in about:addons and uses a non-descriptive name and description.

No one knows what the extension does and where it came from based on that. The first though then is clearly that this is some sort of malware that was injected somehow in the browser without any user interaction.

Research reveals that this is an official Mozilla extension, so that is good at least to know that this is not malware.

But Looking Glass is clearly an advertisement that Mozilla pushed in the browser. Mozilla calls it cross-promotion, but the meaning is the same.

The main issue that I have with this is how amateurish Mozilla handles these things sometimes. Pushing an extension like this to Firefox installations to promote a TV show that most Firefox users don't watch crosses a line in my opinion. The fact that only people who watch the show may understand the description, and that Mozilla failed to provide information on what the extension does or where it came from, adds to that.

Mozilla pulling stunts like this erodes user trust in the brand. It is not the first time that Mozilla did something that it better should not have done. Earlier this year, the organization ran a Cliqz experiment in Firefox on a subset of users from Germany that had data collecting enabled by default.


Remove Looking Glass

firefox studies

To remove Looking Glass, go to about:addons and click on remove next to Looking Glass. It appears that Mozilla is removing the extension automatically as we speak; at least that is what happened on my system a minute ago.

You can prevent Mozilla from installing studies in Firefox by opening about:preferences#privacy, and removing the checkmark from "allow Firefox to install and run studies".

Now You: What's your take on this?

Firefox Looking Glass extension: what it is?
Article Name
Firefox Looking Glass extension: what it is?
If you take a look at the installed extensions of your version of Firefox right now, you may notice a new extension called Looking Glass listed among them.
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  1. WaterfoxCrash said on December 17, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Sorry, here I am again. Seems FF Quantum (or botchum) is not updating uBlock origin. Every restart it shows “update” despite being updated before. I’m getting very tired of this FF sh……., it’s wasting my time.

    1. leanon said on December 18, 2017 at 11:41 am

      Not having any problems with uBO. Try backing up its settings and reinstall.

  2. WaterfoxCrash said on December 17, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I tried Waterfox but it is always crashing when trying to start in Sandboxie. Any solutions ? Thanks.

    1. wvo said on December 18, 2017 at 8:01 am

      Maybe a fresh install could help. On my computer Waterfox with Sandboxie runs fine.

  3. Mike W. said on December 17, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    I never got this since I turned Firefox’s option to “run and install studies” off. That being said, this was a bad move on Mozilla’s part and they need to better address it. I don’t think anyone needs to be fired (much like I didn’t think Eich needed to be fired for his stance), but I do think a statement needs to be issued where future “study” extensions prompt a pop-up windows upon launch of the browser that briefly explains what the extension does/is for and allows users to accept or deny the study. To date, Mozilla’s statement has been incredibly lacking IMO.

    I will continue to use Firefox because Quantum is a great browser and Firefox remains one of the few options in terms of browsers that respects user privacy and offers great performance (ironically Brave is the other one, but that is still in beta on desktop). Hopefully Mozilla learns from this and moves forward. Still, talk about shooting yourself in the foot following a good month+ of great PR surrounding the performance/release of Quantum.

    1. crambie said on December 18, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      They only respect privacy when suits them. If they can make $ then their mission statements go out of the window. A good video about the current Mozilla and what needs to change.

  4. Norm said on December 17, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    It’s July 29, 2025, and I just got my new MS telemetry collar. I love it, it picks up audio and video and features an auto
    tightening mechanism that deploys when I stray too far from one of the receivers. Next Monday I’m getting my new MS
    geolocation chip which will be installed at the base of my spine. I can’t wait. :>)

    1. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      Sounds great, you’ll never lose your spine anymore.

    2. Tom Hawack said on December 17, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      At the same time somewhere in France a guy named Tom Hawack finally met the gal of his life but MS-Parity blocked the deal on the account its AI proved at 99,99% that she wasn’t the right person for him.

      1. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 5:10 pm

        99.99%, that definitely requires a talent in picking exactly the wrong person, impressive dude this Tom Hawack!

        But seriously, this would actually be very interesting if it was optional (obviously), and if data was not centralized but owned 100% locally and whatever’s needed for full privacy. So much time saved, and increased likelihood of happiness and sense of belonging ? I’m in.

    3. Clairvaux said on December 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm


  5. Schorsch said on December 17, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Uhm, the “allow install and run studies” preference doesn’t even show up here (57.0.2 (64-Bit)). And no problems with “self-installing” addons, although some telemetry is activated.
    I don’t know what I did right.

    But still I hate the fact that they did that.

  6. johnk said on December 17, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    I’ve been quietly comfortable with Firefox for many years, what a shame they are now getting things wrong. They are doing the growing American thing of just doing what THEY want and not what the customer wants or even necessarily knows about. The whole world is seeing this with new Presidento and seeing it spread in business, politics, finances etc. What a shame…,meanwhile thanks Martin for help on what Looking Glass an what to do about it.

  7. TelV said on December 17, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Judging by this Wiki it’s been around for a while. There’s even a link to the bug at the foot of the page:

  8. johnk said on December 17, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve been quietly comfortable with Firefox for many years, what a shame they are now getting things wrong. They are doing the growing American thing of just doing what THEY want and not what the customer wants or even necessarily knows about. The whole world is seeing this with new Presidento and seeing it spread in business, politics, finances etc. What a shame…

  9. chesscanoe said on December 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Ditto, Tom Hawack. Such an uninteresting waste of time and electrons. Fortunately there is such a thing as the Delete key….

  10. Clairvaux said on December 17, 2017 at 6:27 am

    I learned about this on, and the users over there are quite livid. Rightfully so.

    It’s one thing to manhandle your users with a Web Extensions shift that could have been justified, if it had been managed correctly. It’s another entirely to take the moral Internet high ground, and claim ideological support plus monetary donations on that basis, while violating your principles and shafting your trusting users in such a blatant way.

    After all : vast choice of add-ons and extreme customisability : gone. Trust to protect your privacy and anonymity, which for some users is a life or death concern : fast vanishing, or already gone. What’s left ?

    As many people have asked : who’s in charge at Mozilla ? What we do know is it’s someone who supports homosexual marriage (because the previous CEO was kicked out for not doing so). Now see how that has benefited the product.

    1. A different Martin said on December 17, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      This isn’t the right venue for debating non-tech-related politics, but I will point out that a software CEO is responsible for more than just technical decisions — he or she is also responsible for managing the company’s employee relations, business relationships, and public image. If a CEO’s publicly known personal views are highly offensive to a significant number of employees, partners, or customers, that can be a legitimate business reason for removal, notwithstanding the CEO’s technical excellence. We’ve seen significant backpedaling on overt opposition to gay equality at both Italian food company Barilla and American fast-food chain Chick-fil-A for that reason. As Michael Corleone said in The Godfather, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” But bottom line, this isn’t the right venue for debating non-tech-related politics.

      1. Frank said on December 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm

        I wonder what “a significant number” is. Is it a numerical majority or those crying “foul!” the loudest?

      2. Anonymous said on December 18, 2017 at 2:26 pm

        Nice clarification above. Sounds like an abortion for the Clairvaux’s religious and politic ideology in gestation.

      3. A different Martin said on December 18, 2017 at 4:21 am

        @ Clairvaux:

        I don’t really want to continue this discussion (and this will be my last installment), but I will correct a few mistakes on your part:

        * Brendan Eich wasn’t fired, he resigned in the face of a major backlash from “the Mozilla community.”

        * The Mozilla CEO isn’t the owner. He’s just another employee who serves at the pleasure of a board of directors. If the board determines that a CEO’s personal views are a business problem (whether internal or external) and that that problem outweighs his technical value to the enterprise, he’s going to get canned.

        * I don’t know where so many people get the notion that federal constitutional protections against government overreach and abuse apply against private-sector actors. They don’t. American employees do benefit from a handful of anti-discrimination and civil-rights statutes and regulations, but they’re tough to make a case under, particularly when the defendant can point to a major commercial/business motive for termination.

        * The expression is “toe the line.”

        * It’s news to me that the oligarchy running America is “leftist.” Given that the latest Allianz Global Wealth Report pegs the USA’s Gini coefficient of wealth distribution at 0.81, the highest of all countries studied (which is admittedly not all 195 of them), it doesn’t seem to be doing a very good “leftist” job. But it’s possible that our definitions of leftist aren’t the same. I suspect mine is more traditional and yours is of much more recent vintage.

        Anyway, as I said, this is my last installment. Freedom is one thing; abusing other readers’ time and patience is another.

      4. Clairvaux said on December 17, 2017 at 10:21 pm

        Well, maybe not, but you’re doing it anyway. Freedom must prevail.

        So : if a CEO views are deeply offensive to his employees, the employees must leave. Not the CEO. A company is not a democracy.

        Of course, it’s not the employees that are offended by opposition to the shenanigans of the homosexual lobby. It’s the leftist oligarchy. It’s the governments, the media, the academic milieu, the connected business executives.

        Mozilla’s CEO was an exception in that regard. The people don’t support that witch hunt. The people know better than that, and many of them oppose homosexual “marriage”. Most of them would at least scoff at the notion that you can’t express opposition to it. It’s only because there’s a terror campaign going on, exemplified by Eich’s firing, that people are cowed into submission and don’t express their true feelings.

        The message is very clear : if you don’t tow the line of the party, then you will lose your job, even if you’re a powerful CEO.

        As a matter of fact, Eich’s firing was very probably unconstitutional. What he did was express support for one side in the campaign leading to a vote. Firing people from their jobs because you don’t like the way they vote has a name : it’s called dictatorship, fascism, communism, tyranny. Exactly the sort of thing the American constitution is supposed to protect Americans against.

        So, no, even supposing that Mozilla’s employees would be eager to enforce communism or fascim in America, it still would be illegal for them to do so.

    2. Lord-Lestat said on December 17, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      Traditional values and Conservative users and their features are getting sacrificed for radical leftists or social justice warriors or similar…

      What do you expect? Do you really believe a more feature rich browser is the outcome once “diversity new ” is done with re-shaping it?

      Everyone or everything which is not fitting into this new “leftist values” scheme is either getting witch-hunted into oblivion or stripped-off functionality and replaced with “features” leftists love and are able to understand.

      Because there is only one user-group which counts today.. the non-skilled most dumbest user possible who is of course… leftist and against everything Conservative!

      Brave new world…. NOT!

      “Diversity-new” is dumbing-down. And that is FAR from being diverse!

    3. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 7:10 am

      “As many people have asked : who’s in charge at Mozilla ? What we do know is it’s someone who supports homosexual marriage (because the previous CEO was kicked out for not doing so). Now see how that has benefited the product.”

      Please stop spreading your religious radicalism on Ghacks (and all your incessant bullshit).

      1. Tom Hawack said on December 17, 2017 at 8:08 pm

        @Clairvaux, I don’t think politics has anything to do with having or not a conservative attitude. We all know that besides the left-right political scheme there is the conservative-progressive nature of each of us, and maybe is this nature essentially crafted by one’s childhood, education, environment moving in a dialectical dynamic with psychology : I’d rather believe that it is those parameters which influence and sometimes dictate one’s inclination to so-called left and right political choices. I guess we are conservative or progressive depending on the topics, I do hope so because otherwise it would mean that demagogy is our leader.

      2. Clairvaux said on December 17, 2017 at 7:40 pm

        @ Lord-Lestat

        Although I do see some merit to the analogy between political ideas and design philosophy of software on a broad sociological and historic level, I really think we shouldn’t push things too far.

        I’m pretty sure there are left-wingers and right-wingers alike on both sides of the fence separating feature-rich and lean and simple software. In fact, the geeks milieu, the Linux community, the open software circles are heavily populated by left-leaning individuals.

        Mozilla is part of the open software movement, and it’s leaning on the left, so nothing unexpected here. The anomaly is that in this case, open software goes hand in hand with de-featuring, or at least with something we, Firefox conservatives, currently perceive as such. Whereas open software is usually associated with geekiness, tinkering with code, power being preferred to usability.

        It might be fun for a Firefox conservative who is also a political conservative to kill two birds with one stone : they destroy our beloved features because they are stinking leftists, or they are evil communists therefore it’s no wonder they eviscerate our formerly brilliant software.

        However, it would be plain wrong to try and explain the current changes by this logic and this logic only, and therefore unefficient if the aim is to allow continued empowerment of users.

      3. Lord-Lestat said on December 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm

        @Clairvaux There is a difference between the good basic simple users and the radical leftist/social justice warriors simpletons who hate features with passion – which earn to be called out like that as they neither would show respect to geeks and even less respect to Conservatives.

        A very big part of Mozilla’s user base of today consists of that radical m*rons – and that is Mozilla’s user recruiting pool of choice these days.

        The more they hate features, traditional values or Conservatives, the more Mozilla supports them.

        And all spit on real Democracy or diversity!

      4. Clairvaux said on December 17, 2017 at 3:50 pm

        @ Lord-Lestat

        “Give the clever guys their toys, give the simpletons the option to hide the toys.”

        Exactly. Although I wouldn’t call them simpletons. You don’t need to be one to want a simple, intuitive and pared-down program. And conversely, being able to use advanced features in software does not necessarily mean you’re very intelligent, let alone creative. Or a boon to humanity.

        Geeks should not despise non-geeks. If one feels the need to disparage people who prefer simpler tools, then one is not as intelligent as he thinks he is.

        @ Anonymous

        Arrre you tall’king to me ? I’m not a “product”, you airhead. And I’m not American, either.

        So : how has Firefox got better since Mozilla sacked its CEO for not towing the politically correct line, on matters entirely unrelated to browsers ? We still haven’t been blessed with your insights on the subject. But you sure know a thing or two about “arrogance” and “sneakiness”. How about adopting an alias, to begin with ?

      5. crambie said on December 17, 2017 at 2:28 pm

        It was disgusting how Eich was treated.

      6. Lord-Lestat said on December 17, 2017 at 1:43 pm

        I have luckily seen the times where real diversity was counting.

        Give the clever guys there toys, give the simpletons the option to hide the toys. That was a time where Conservatives and traditional values have not been seen as the most evil of all devils around and intelligence was not demonized as “discriminating against all that poor chaps who could feel possible alienated and insulted that there is actually one single text line their intellect is unable to grasp”

        And people, THAT was called real diversity. These have been times where people have not constantly been standing close to the river that it is able to catch their tears the moment they have been facing a wrong feature, person or word which they have not been liking.

        But in times where “safe space” is more important no matter how ridiculous the topic was in the first place which was seen as offending – you can only expect more idiocy coming up as time progresses.

        Sad development.

      7. Tom Hawack said on December 17, 2017 at 12:17 pm

        What an thrilling Sunday in perspective.
        If you guys intend to carry on this totally off-topic for the rest of the day I’ll have to suspend my subscription to this thread, which would be a pity given other new posts might be missed.

      8. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

        What you should know is that you are the typical product of what the USA is capable to generate. An arrogant and sneaky product trying to influence people using biased approaches, to spread its own interested vision of what the world should be. But you know that already.

      9. Clairvaux said on December 17, 2017 at 11:00 am

        Again, a brave “anonymous” trying to silence freedom.

        It’s homosexual “marriage” wich is anti-religious extremism. The CEO of Mozilla was just exerting his constitutional voting rights as an American citizen, when he gave a few thousand dollars to the campaign against a California popular vote about homosexual marriage.

        That’s what got him “shamed” and expelled out of his Mozilla job by the fascist-communist thugs which you apparently support. Please enlighten us as to how in the world this has helped computer users with a more efficient, powerful, customisable and privacy-respecting browser. I’d be curious to know.

  11. Bobo said on December 17, 2017 at 6:03 am

    Now that the initial hype has calmed down, things like this surely doesn’t do mozilla any favors. Personally, I see no reason to switch from Google Chrome, other than nostalgia or being a hardcore software-rebel sticking it to the man.

    1. scorpio_green said on December 24, 2017 at 2:21 am

      Personally, I see no reason to switch from Google Chrome, other than nostalgia or being a hardcore software-rebel sticking it to the man.

      What’s wrong with “sticking it to the man”? Some of us choose not to be sheeple, ya know.

      I for one think using less & less Google products is better for the competition and other alternatives. It’s not good having the web being dominated by one browser.

  12. ChronoVlad said on December 17, 2017 at 4:50 am

    More reason for me to stick to Waterfox….

    WTF are you doing Mozilla?

    1. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Your privacy is dramatically lessened with Waterfox, make sure to spoof Firefox and cross fingers hoping the spoofing is complete enough

      1. AnorKnee Merce said on December 18, 2017 at 7:04 pm

        @ Anonymous

        Based on your logic, you should be better off running Chrome and not Firefox because there are very fewer Firefox users compared to Chrome users, and you really stand out with Firefox.
        … Spoofing Chrome helps but it’s hard to guarantee that the spoof is convincing. If it isn’t, you stand out even more with Firefox, which is now a Chrome clone.

      2. Anonymous said on December 18, 2017 at 1:01 pm

        Because there are very few Waterfox users, you really stand out with it. Spoofing Firefox helps, but it’s hard to guarantee that the spoof is convincing. If it isn’t, you stand out even more.

        If you really need to use Waterfox because you don’t find proper WebExtension alternatives and need legacy add-ons, you should probably use a configuration that thoroughly blocks all 3rd party scripts at a minimum, with preferably 1st party scripts on top and all other 3rd party resources. uMatrix is good for that, if you can make yourself comfortable with it.

        This will reduce your exposure, since your privacy is so weak when exposed, reducing exposure as much as possible is the best thing to do. Spoofing is good IF you can be confident it is thorough enough. (Just spoofing useragent won’t do)

        Privacy requires that many people share the same appearance, that’s why Firefox is a must, it has both numbers and more than a thousand Tor Browser patches dedicated to making its users look similar. Waterfox is close to Firefox so it can hope to be able to spoof it, but the fact that it uses legacy add-ons and not Firefox is an important point of divergence giving your browser quirks that may separate you from the main Firefox crowd. So it’s best to reduce exposure if you want to use it.

      3. wvo said on December 18, 2017 at 7:33 am

        Why is privacy compromised with Waterfox? Really curious.

  13. Richard said on December 17, 2017 at 4:21 am

    Firefox Application Suite

  14. Grumpf12 said on December 17, 2017 at 3:00 am

    I am so tired of these silly games software developers are trying to play with me. One could start to believe Google Crap, Firesucks, Wintoads 10 or Anidiotdroit, they all are the same. Seems they follow a vicious circle, personal information – revenue – more personal information – more revenue – and so on.

    I had FF 57x installed, then I tried to implement Noscript. What a desaster, what an UI, what a major step back, unusable for me. I also had Privacy Settings installed in an older FF and was shocked to see the crippled version in FF 57. I lost several very fine addons, I actually lost most of the productivity I had with the last version of FF. I went back to FF 52 ESR and it will probably be the last FF version I am willing to allow on my computer. Sorry, but I am quite angry because Moz destroyed a functioning and well working browser without any need to do so. You may have a different opinion, but I need to work with this freaking thing. Again, sorry but it seems we are living in a world where idiots rule.

    1. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Use uMatrix instead of NoScript for now :)

  15. Steven T. said on December 17, 2017 at 2:22 am

    “Most users hardly know what an add-on is.”

    So many uninformed (who cares attitude)

    The end users are to blame.

  16. Rummmz said on December 17, 2017 at 1:55 am


  17. Lord-Lestat said on December 17, 2017 at 12:18 am

    It is always fun to watch and fall a once respectable Open Source company who got fully addicted to user numbers and hunger for importance and beating Chrome in market share – when many many years earlier all they focused was in giving the user a very powerful and utterly feature rich tool, almost as powerful as Opera was with options the competition did not have – because creativity was at that point in time more favorable than raw quantity and shiny gift wrap around an inside-empty body – like it is always these days.

    But well, that is the past. And today, both Opera and Mozilla are Google whores and while hunting behind their sugar daddy and thankfully consume what is left behind for them they are damaging their own brand again and again :D

    Keep on going Mozilla, it is entertaining :P

  18. cormoran-man said on December 16, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Mozilla, you’re TRASHED!

  19. Anonymous said on December 16, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    “It appears that Mozilla is removing the extension automatically as we speak”

    After Microsoft Windows 10 “as a service”, welcome to Mozilla Firefox Quantum “as a service”. Good luck with that.

  20. Norm said on December 16, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    How many red flags are needed?

    1. Appster said on December 16, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Far too many, I fear.

  21. A different Martin said on December 16, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Hmmm. My Firefox Studies checkbox was already unchecked. I guess either it was opt-in or I unchecked it when I set up Firefox Quantum, although I have no recollection of doing so. It’s also possible that it was part of a general list of about:config privacy tweaks I went through and selectively applied. I don’t use Firefox Quantum very often — Pale Moon is still my primary browser — so I tend to forget things about it.

    Otherwise, I’m uncomfortable with changes being made to my browser in background. Even if I were interested in participating in Firefox Studies, I’d want to be able to review each one and be required to affirmatively enable it before it became operative. This particular “study” seems to be pretty harmless, but there’s no guarantee that future ones won’t be more questionable. A better approach would be to change the option from “allow Firefox studies” to “allow Firefox study offers.

  22. Kevin said on December 16, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    My favorite part about this is that Mozilla implemented features in the browser to stop others from silently installing add-ons. Given this, it is more than a little hypocritical that they do it themselves!

  23. Anonymous said on December 16, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Wonder if Mr Robot has some interest with the new law in USA breaking the net neutrality?

  24. insanelyapple said on December 16, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    This move is not surprising after seeing what they become after throwing Eich away for personal beliefs (which by the way in no way were affecting browser development process). But I find yet more scary fact that there are many people who are totally OK with this Mozilla’s action because in their eyes no harm was done, it was just a tv show promotion and everyone should chill.

    Well dear happy people, no. It’s not a good thing. This is a clear sign that Mozilla cannot be trusted anymore; today they’re dumping an ad/promotional malware (because let’s name things straight – it’s a malware) and tomorrow, who knows – “harmless” addon that reports your browsing habits to country’s security services. They lost credibility completely in my eyes.

    1. Tom Hawack said on December 16, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Happy or unaware? Most users hardly know what an add-on is and if they’ve never installed one of their own they’re most unlikely to understand what a service extension is, they take the browser as it comes, hardly configure it (which is why default settings are a top policy) and complain only when things get broken (which is also why Firefox has significantly reduced users’ ability to modify core settings).

      The point is, IMO, that Mozilla is focusing now on those base users and no longer on artist techies who enjoyed tweaking the whole damn beast from A to Z : that is Mozilla’s new policy because success nowadays is tied to the number of users and that experts grow fewer as they grow more savant. It’s neither bad or good in terms of ethics, it’s business, business which is (still?) amoral, not immoral.

      1. crambie said on December 17, 2017 at 2:24 pm

        Well you seemed to speak for everyone, I’m sure they’ll thank you for that.

      2. Tom Hawack said on December 16, 2017 at 9:24 pm

        Perhaps we don’t know everyone, do we? :=)

      3. crambie said on December 16, 2017 at 8:03 pm

        Perhaps people you associate with don’t know one end of a browser from the other but I don’t know a single person who doesn’t use them.

      4. chesscanoe said on December 16, 2017 at 8:01 pm

        I uninstalled Firefox a month or two ago as a lost outdated cause, but installed it again just to see if its perceived downward direction was confirmed or not. For now I am convinced it’s not for me, and uninstalled it again, probably for a very long time at a minimum.

  25. basicuser said on December 16, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Mr. Brinkman,
    I’m confused. The three sites you cite have nothing to do with Mr. Robot or Mozilla that I can find. What’s the tie-in?

    1. braveuser said on December 16, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      Hello, Brave basic user. The 3 sites appear to be the partners for this Looking Glass initiative by Mozilla CORP.

      1. basicuser said on December 17, 2017 at 3:19 pm


        Thank you. Did some more digging and found via terms of service and privacy policy that redwheelbarrow is produced by NBCUniversal (which produces Mr. Robot) which is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation. Not sure who hired PUG.

        Anyway, some interesting partners for Mozilla. Helps explain the direction they’re taking Firefox.

  26. Dave said on December 16, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Had to uninstall 57 though I actually kinda liked it.

    I was unable to prevent cookies from facebook and youtube being put on my system without breaking the browser.

    I never even went to these sites, just starting the browser would somehow cause them to be downloaded.

    1. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      You can prevent cookies from Facebook and Youtube being put on your system without breaking your browser.

      Cookies are headers, which means they are sent with every network requests. Many many websites embed content from Facebook, and to a much lesser extent YouTube, which means that when visiting these websites, your browser will have to request resources from Facebook. You’ll get a cookie along the way. When loaded from visiting another website, Facebook is counted as a “third party”.

      You can block this by blocking third-party cookies in about:preferences#privacy


      Beyond that, certain add-ons such as uMatrix by default accept cookies, but don’t send them back. It’s almost the same as blocking them entirely since the website never gets to know you retained the cookie, so it can’t abuse cookies to track you.

      Cookie AutoDelete accepts cookies and deletes them regularly.


      You can delete all data manually with the CTRL+SHIFT+DEL pop up window.

  27. P said on December 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Haven’t you people heard? FF isn’t ‘YOUR’ browser any more. Its whatever flavor the team at mozilla thinks it should be that month, fluid, ever changing. A spy network one week, a Mr ROb0t add on the next. With a dash of ‘insult your intelligence’ thrown in for spice. Have fun y’all!!!

  28. Earl said on December 16, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    I used to think Mozilla was just stupid. Now–with this–I think they must be retarded. How else could they view all Fx users as guinea pigs?

  29. Frank said on December 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    “[H]ow amateurish Mozilla handles these things sometimes.”

    Judging by their reactions, I’d replace “amateurish” with “self-righteous.”

  30. Dean said on December 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I thought Mozilla was smarter than this. They don’t even directly ask permission it’s just a catch all “in the user agreement you agreed that studies are okay” defence. What a bad mark on the great launch of Quantum :(

    “Studies” need to be a feature that is clear and off by default, Mozilla, don’t ruin the chances for the resurgence of your browser for this nonsense.

  31. Kane said on December 16, 2017 at 11:59 am

    The former Mozilla people who care about privacy are working on the Brave Browser. The new Mozilla is a greedy company who does everything for money. They talk about freedom but censor everyone who does not go with their ideology and they want to tell you what is fake news and what not while spying on you with their Cliqz & Ghostery extensions. Go to the about:config and search for “cliqz” and remove the url. I don’t trust Mozilla anymore.

    1. Rush said on December 18, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      “The new Mozilla is a greedy company who does everything for money.”

      Now, what makes you say that?

  32. crambie said on December 16, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Mozilla certainly aren’t the Mozilla people once knew and loved. They talk a lot about privacy and no surprises and then do the exact opposite. It’s so much harder to find software you can really trust these days.

    Browser wise I’m thinking Brave even though it’s pretty ropey on the desktop at the moment. While the BAT stuff doesn’t interest me at all that’s optional and they seem to be taking privacy seriously.

    1. Fight4UrRight said on December 16, 2017 at 7:24 pm

      “They talk a lot about privacy and no surprises and then do the exact opposite”

      “the people” say . . . No Honor, No Integrity = No Trust

  33. Tom Hawack said on December 16, 2017 at 10:47 am

    No system add-ons here on Firefox 57, no test/pilot extensions, FF install folder / browser / features is emptied after install of the browser.
    I found a funny setting in about:config which seems to make exceptions to the browser’s abandon of legacy add-ons, and concerns what? System add-ons? : extensions.legacy.exceptions
    I’ve set this extensions.legacy.exceptions to “”

    Concerning this new ‘Glass extension’, even though it has no chance of landing on my version of FF, my opinion is that it discredits a company’s statement asserting that “[…] One of the 10 guiding principles of Mozilla’s mission is that individuals’ security and privacy on the internet are fundamental […]”

    The company should rather focus on its AMO pages, infested with spam extensions.

    1. Appster said on December 16, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      @Tom Hawack: No sympathy here, Tom. You decided to switch to Firefox 57+ (Where did your 60+ add-ons go? Hahaha…), and you know about the Mozilla-related privacy fuckups I talked about here most recently. Any problem you might face is there because you made the decision to use a product of that company. A company that is only paying lip service to its principles. Their actions obviously indicate the contrary. I hope all Firefox 57+ users who voluntarily gave away control face many more problems than they do now. Congratulations to all those who failed to properly sanction a user-betraying data-sucking company. They don’t deserve any better, and I enjoy their suffering. Warning signs were there all over the place beforehand…

      1. Clairvaux said on December 17, 2017 at 7:08 pm

        @ Tom Hawack

        You didn’t get it. There’s no joke. This is disingenuous.

      2. Tom Hawack said on December 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm

        Either they didn’t get the joke and are handicapped either they did get the joke but then why did they reply in the first place?
        Check mate? LOL

      3. Clairvaux said on December 17, 2017 at 3:55 pm


        Yeah, sure. Insult people, then say it was sarcasm. Then insult them once more by telling them they are stupid for not getting the joke.

      4. Appster said on December 17, 2017 at 7:42 am

        @Tom Hawack: Thanks for your reply. I’ll go through it the best I can.

        Regarding Waterfox:

        Both Firefox 55 and 56 have already removed some parts of the legacy framework, so a (very small) amount of add-ons will break in those versions. Firefox 54 had the most solid add-on support, in fact. However, Firefox 55 has also brought some nice performance improvements to the table, most notably startup improvements. Therefore and for the fact that WebExtensions support was extended (e.g. Decentraleyes requires Firefox 56 minimum) Alex Kontos decided to choose Firefox 56 as a base. He said that he’ll look into the issues of add-ons requiring the removed parts, and will try to bring them back. I think that’s OK and a conscious decision, over all. Yet again I must say that using 70(!!!) add-ons is tantamount of tempting fate in this case. Something will likely break with every single release for you. I have 20 extensions up and running and none of them breaks with Waterfox 56, not even the big/complex ones (Tab Mix Plus, CTR, Roomy Bookmarks Toolbar).

        Regarding Firefox 57:

        I never doubted that the engine speed is decent, that’s all fine. I am just not as amazed as others, because I own a quite powerful Mac to begin with, and thus I am used to 100% “snappiness”. Quantum is not what the Mozilla marketing department made it out to be, as e.g. Safari 11 does still render faster than FF57 here. I don’t see the “revolution”, at all. Chrome is only slightly slower.
        I must say that I doubt you when it comes to finding suitable alternatives to existing add-ons. You may not like to say it, but I imagine a sizeable number of your add-ons had to go the way of the dodo when you switched to Firefox 57. Either that or you have only been using fairly “simple” (in terms of functionality pro add-on) ones to begin with.
        Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend switching to Pale Moon, at all. it is the most incompatible alternative of them all, far more incompatible than Waterfox. If anything, you should try out Basilisk. I must say that I don’t understand your logic behind leaving Waterfox for one of two extremes; Firefox 57+ only supports WebExtensions, Pale Moon mostly supports only ancient versions of existing add-ons, due to its lack of Australis.

        Anyway, all the best. I just doubt that you’ll be better off switching back to Mozilla, considering the loss of your add-ons as well as their fairly shady tactics being involved. At least the Waterfox dev is trying to keep the crap out, and I doubt that he will ever bundle shady add-ons with the browser. Mozilla has already proven how far they are willing to go, and I could imagine that this is just the start.

        @Clairvaux: Ever heard of “sarcasm”? Of course I don’t literally enjoy their suffering, although I must say that there is a modicum of truth to every sarcastic uttering of mine. Seriously, huge red warning flags were all over the place when it comes to Mozilla. People are just too dumb to understand. They read the Mozilla principles and just believe them right away, much like sheep would do. They don’t even consider that they are being played and fooled (in the datamining place that is the Internet, after all). If anyone cares to find out the truth about Mozilla, read here: Of course it takes some spine to admit that you were being fooled, spine that not everybody is in possession of. Some people would rather still use products of this organization, so that they aren’t being disturbed in their fantasy world. Clairvaux – with all due respect – you are not the most lucid one over here as it seems, as you have still failed (and continue to fail) to get the point I am trying to make. This very point being that people should question what they are being told, and should invest some time in search of background information about a product they trust their most valuable data with.

      5. Clairvaux said on December 17, 2017 at 6:00 am

        @ Appster

        “Congratulations to all those who failed to properly sanction a user-betraying data-sucking company. They don’t deserve any better, and I enjoy their suffering.”

        There’s something wrong with you.

      6. Tom Hawack said on December 16, 2017 at 10:11 pm

        Appster :=) those were rather 70- add-ons (and extensions)!

        To make it short (that’s the aim!) I installed Firefox for two reasons:

        1- When I noticed that Waterfox 56, because built on Firefox 56, already started to block some of my add-ons, I got to wonder if version 56 wasn’t the one too much, if it wouldn’t have been wiser for Waterfox to start developing its ESR on the basis on 55. That together with the fear that Waterfox would lean towards the 57 architecture rather than remain faithful to pre-57 disorganized my faith in Waterfox : what I wanted was a browser which would handle *all* my legacy add-ons and at the same time remain on the go with Webextensions. I had been told that a choice was inevitable in perspective, that whatever FF-fork browser would have to choose sooner or later to stop (as Pale Moon) or to abandon legacy add-ons : I happened to realize the consistence of such an assertion, leading me to believe that there was no true future in a Waterfox conceived in conformity with my hopes.

        2- Curiosity. People talk, write, most often objectively when it comes to blogs and gHacks in particular, most often in exaggerated terms when it comes to base-line users. I wanted to have a look for myself.

        Now, first impressions with FF57 are rather good. The silhouette first appeared sexy by the speed of the engine, quite amazing. E10 together with several enhancements made me feel as if I were running a new far more powerful OS, the whole thing is snappy.

        Te add-ons? All legacy ones are of course history now. But I managed to find similar ones for almost all my needs and I notice new add-ons making their way day by day. I’ve switched from ‘Stylish’ to ‘Stylus’ and from ‘Greasemonkey’ to ‘Violent Monkey’ not because either wasn’t ported to their Webextension equivalence but because both, once Webextensions, are 100% craps. Stylus and ViolentMonkey are perfect for me. Concerning the browser layout, the GUI, which I had very, excessively tweaked until FF57, that appeared as an issue. Fortunately with userChrome and user userContent I can still do quite a lot of interior designing!

        I’m testing, I want to see by myself. Firefox 57 is not a nirvana, no browser has ever been, it’s just a new approach. I admit being of those who practice true love with their browser (only?!) and consequently changing habits may be a handicap sometimes as we remain faithful mess by love than by comfort. I just decided to shake my brains a bit. We’ll see how it goes. But in case of a rupture with Firefox I’d be most likely to re-discover Pale Moon as I see no other alternative in the scheme drawn by my requirements.

        I knew “short” would be a tough enterprise :=)

    2. Cigologic said on December 16, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      >> I’ve set this extensions.legacy.exceptions to “”

      extensions.legacy.exceptions is to prevent Firefox from marking legacy XUL addons as “LEGACY” on the addons menu. The pref should contain the unique IDs (UIDs) of the legacy addons that you wish to “whitelist” (ie. hide the “LEGACY” label), with each UID separated by a comma.

      Every addon’s UID can be obtained by using any text editor to open the install.rdf file found within the addon’s XPI file. Look at the string between the em:id tags. This should be near the top of the install.rdf file.

      Below are some sample UIDs …
      • DownThemAll: {DDC359D1-844A-42a7-9AA1-88A850A938A8}
      • FlashStopper: [email protected]
      • NoScript: {73a6fe31-595d-460b-a920-fcc0f8843232}

      So if you wish to hide the LEGACY label for the above 3 addons, set extensions.legacy.exceptions to:
      {DDC359D1-844A-42a7-9AA1-88A850A938A8},[email protected],{73a6fe31-595d-460b-a920-fcc0f8843232}

      1. Tom Hawack said on December 16, 2017 at 5:46 pm

        So that’s what this setting is for… OK, thanks for the explanation. From there on what I won’t understand is the pertinence of the setting given legacy add-ons no longer have their place on Firefox 57+

        Concerning the UUID, Firefox’s built-in about:debugging displays them explicitly. That wasn’t my concern but rather a reference to legacy extensions in a browser which doesn’t support them …

  34. Roger said on December 16, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Jeez, promoting some stupid TV series by installing extension… A new low.

    1. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      It’s actually promoting Firefox to Mr. Robot fans. Since this add-on does nothing unless you do something after you watched the show.

    2. MdN said on December 16, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      What’s “stupid” about Mr Robot? You don’t know how to use a terminal?

  35. 42 said on December 16, 2017 at 9:57 am

    about:config entries:
    app.shield.optoutstudies.enabled = false
    extensions.shield-recipe-client.api_url = “”
    extensions.shield-recipe-client.enabled = false

    1. leanon said on December 16, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Nota one here on 57.0.2

  36. Curtis K said on December 16, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Mr. Robot is USA Network (division is NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group) show (owned by NBCUniversal and a subsidiary of Comcast).

    Research on Wikipedia:
    1. USA Network
    2. NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group
    3. NBCUniversal
    4. Comcast

    1. dumb user said on December 17, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      ^Right. FORGET the non-profit mozilla because it’s DEAD

      This useless addon is a tipical example of someone exposing his power.
      I can sense the marketing leader of Mozilla Corp. talking to his friend of NBC Universal and promising him this great homage.

      The devs of Pale-moon are the opposite of the mozilla bunch.

      1. Anonymous said on December 18, 2017 at 12:01 pm

        The Palemoon dev is exposing the little power he has all the time.

    2. MdN said on December 16, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Alternatively, you could try watching Mr Robot. I’m not defending Mozilla’s move, but, if you take away the drama, it’s the best and technically the most realistic computer, privacy and hacking related show ever.

      1. Tom Hawack said on December 16, 2017 at 5:50 pm

        Well, MdN, joining them without being beat by them is an ideal position, flexibility at its best, blend of brains and guts : all me :=)

      2. MdN said on December 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm

        @crambie: That wasn’t my point. His point was “it’s all a corporate conspiracy, follow the money, etc” while obviously not knowing what the series is about, and I replied to that. I also said I’m not defending Mozilla’s move. But it’s the best computer-related show ever (partly because no one else tried to show it realistically before). Again, I’m not saying he should watch it, but at least know what it’s about. It’s not exactly corporation-friendly.

        @Tom: If it’s too good to be true, and all that. Yes, principles can be a fluid thing. Sometimes I think to myself “If I don’t like the rules, or the rules put me in a disadvantage, at least I can try to use them (or the parts that suit me) in my favor while keeping my principles”. Either that, or nothing, because sometimes there’s no other choice.

      3. Tom Hawack said on December 16, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        I understand you’re not defending a behavior (that of this system extension) but wondering in a certain way if there is any valid reason to oppose one’s freedom given the offer is or may be worth it.

        That is a true problematic. “An offer you can’t refuse” is a rather Godfather’s wording (cf. the movie and the facts), it has always been and is increasingly adopted as a sales brainwashing “What? You mean you prefer to pay more for your actual subscription rather than change for ours, cheaper?” (implicitly : “Are you stupid or are you smart?”).

        I guess it’s up to each of us to decide. In France we sometimes say when confronted to a marvelous offer : “Paradise, OK, if I want it”. Maybe a pragmatic mind tends to forget principles (even the one of his own liberty) given the offer is attractive. Maybe remaining faithful to principles is a sophisticated practice of one’s freedom. Personally I have no formal answer. My attitude, which is to refuse a forced paradise, is in no way an answer.

      4. crambie said on December 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm

        Perhaps he (and many more) doesn’t want to watch it or be pushed unwanted ads for it in his browser?

  37. leanon said on December 16, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Been seeing quit a bit of negative talk about these tactics online. I am not against expanding Firefox with new features of course but like you this is not the right way of going about it. A better way may be to add another level to the add-ons page below plugins, name it test drive or something catchy. From there a person can “opt in” to whatever Firefox has available whether its ready for prime time or still experimental. If/when they decide to add it then and only then will it be installed an activated.

    Anyhow been updating Firefox manually on linux so after unpacking I jump right into the feature folder and remove all but aushelper and e10s…not sure that would help here though. To anyone not sure where to find that folder

    On linux try


    Or on windows try

    C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\browser\features

    Be careful what you remove.

    1. ams said on December 16, 2017 at 11:20 pm


      along with removing the files-on-disk, (probably) need to “doctor” the value of one or more prefkeys. Sorry I don’t have onhand the exact prefkey, but it stores a json-formatted manifest of to-be-preloaded extensions. To make sense of its (loooong string) content, need to copy/paste the key value into text editor… regex search/replace comma characters and } parentheses characters with \1\n… and examine the individual items referenced within that manifest… and reverse the search/replace operations before pasting edited string value back into user.js (while the browser is not running).

    2. Tom Hawack said on December 16, 2017 at 10:56 am

      I’ve “carefully” removed all of this ‘features’ folder content, nothing from it is required and a user will be far more at ease with none of it.. The ‘feature’ folder is nothing but Mozilla’s foot in the user’s entrance.

      1. leanon said on December 19, 2017 at 5:58 am


        That would be an indirect fix according to this article.

        “Basically, what this means is that Mozilla may identify compatibility issues and ship a fix for that issue to all Firefox versions without having to create and distribute a new Firefox release.”

      2. Anonymous said on December 18, 2017 at 11:56 am

        Webcompat fixes broken shit on the web, for instance websites that “only work on Chrome” bullshit.

      3. leanon said on December 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm

        Thank you Tom, in light of the latest I decided to do just that. And I do feel more at ease. heh

  38. Elafym said on December 16, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Yet another epic fail for Mozilla’s marketing & communication team.

    Yet another proof of the gap there is between Mozilla’s snobbish speech about their privacy ideals and what they actually do.

  39. Anonymous said on December 16, 2017 at 9:10 am

    What version number of Firefox is this? (I have 52 ESR)

    1. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 5:18 am

      The “Anonymous Coward” reply wasn’t me Martin, just to let you know…

      1. Anonymous Coward said on December 17, 2017 at 5:10 pm

        Sorry, I didn’t notice your username. Mine is borrowed from Slashdot. Not intedended to you.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on December 16, 2017 at 10:34 am

      I had it in Firefox 58 Beta only because I keep studies enabled there.

      1. A different Martin said on December 17, 2017 at 9:20 pm

        @ Anonymous Coward:

        “Who read[s] EULA[s] these days?”

        Plaintiff’s attorneys, just before they explain to you that you’re screwed. ;-)

      2. Anonymous Coward said on December 16, 2017 at 10:59 am

        Shield studies is enabled by default in firefox 57. I think Firefox show a privacy notice on first install. I doubt anyone reads it. Who read EULA these days?

  40. Anonymous said on December 16, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Decidedly Mozilla’s reality is really different than mine. This browser is maintened by teenagers, no doubdt.

    1. pHROZEN gHOST said on December 16, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      Maybe they outsourced the work to the lowest bidder.

  41. ams said on December 16, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Yes, yesterday an early reporter @ /r/linux
    “Mozilla Automatically Installs a Mysterious Extension Without Users Knowledge or Permission. Welp, Back to Chromium it is then.”
    …wound up being accused of spreading FUD, and wrongly scolded by apologists

    …today, @ /r/firefox
    “This Looking Glass/Mr Robot sh*t really p*sses me off’
    it’s puppies and bunnies and unicorns and… damage control

    {mmmmm, free porcorn refills}

  42. maxa said on December 16, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Martin Brinkmann why u post so many news on that dead project ( after ff56 ) ?!

    1. Sophie said on December 18, 2017 at 5:51 pm

      Martin is doing us all a very big favour bringing things like this to light. I’ve not seen this in my install (yet).

      Firefox is not a dead project, and I’ve grown to quite like Quantum. However, I can’t quite let all my old (lovely!) addons go, so I’m also still running (pre)-Quantum, at the same time.

      Thanks Martin!

    2. pHROZEN gHOST said on December 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      maxa, why do you not realize that many diehard FF fans are still using it?
      Give Martin a break. He is performing a valuable service to those people.

      1. Appster said on December 19, 2017 at 10:02 am

        @Anonymous and pHROZEN gHOST:

        Firefox was all about customization and privacy since its very inception. Both are GONE as of Firefox 57. WebExtensions and their limited range of functionality / control took over. And you guys are telling me that those who used Firefox for its original virtues are the same ones who are now promoting Webextensions? Wow, your reality must just be different from mine. :D

      2. pHROZEN gHOST said on December 17, 2017 at 8:58 pm

        @Appster, PLEASE try to act your age not your shoe size.

      3. Anonymous said on December 17, 2017 at 4:29 pm



      4. Appster said on December 17, 2017 at 1:19 pm

        @pHROZEN gHOST:

        “diehard FF fans”

        Those people have already jumped ship. They can do without a cheap Chrome copy.

    3. Nuffy said on December 16, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      Be happy somebody is writing about it. Be happy that Martin is writing about the good and bad in Firefox, Windows, Linux, etc. You don’t have to agree with everything he is writing about, but others may have an interest in the story. I like this site and have learned a lot from Martins articles and the opinions posted here.

      1. Ali Sofyan Nasution said on December 16, 2017 at 10:51 pm

        Well said, Nuffy.

  43. fedup said on December 16, 2017 at 8:08 am

    I too thought I had malware infected browser when I saw that extension when I went to check on an entirely different extension. Like you indicated it installed itself behind the scenes without any approval.

    I thought that for some reason I approved this behaviour when I upgraded Firefox. However, I checked client installs of Firefox and their installs also had this extension and setting enabled.

    I found out that in fact it was Mozilla installing this extension via a Reddit thread.

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