Firefox's Pocket integration may show sponsored stories soon
Mozilla started to integrate the read-it-later service Pocket in 2015 in the Firefox web browser. First as an option for users to save articles they encounter on the web for reading it at a later time and some sort of bookmarking alternative, and then later on to power recommendations from around the Web on Firefox's New Tab page in the US, Canada and Germany.
Part of Firefox's userbase criticized Mozilla for integrating Pocket natively in the browser (as opposed to offering an add-on), others liked the integration and found it useful.
Mozilla acquired the read-it-later service Pocket last year to gain full control over the service and use its vast archive of saved pages and articles as a basis for recommendations in the Firefox browser.
The organization promised to improve transparency, and started to publish Pocket code.
Firefox, Pocket and sponsored stories
Mozilla revealed future features of Firefox's Pocket integration yesterday on the Future Releases blog. Mozilla's engineers plan to show personalized recommendations and sponsored stories on Firefox's New Tab page.
Both features will land in Firefox Beta soon and only shown to a "small portion of U.S. users" to test the functionality and receive feedback on the implementation.
Whatâ€™s next? We recently started testing personalized recommendations, and we will soon experiment with showing an occasional sponsored story within the Pocket Recommendations section in New Tab Page in Firefox Beta. This will be shown to a small portion of U.S. users as we start to test.
Side note: Pocket launched sponsored content back in 2016.
The new features are experiments and it is not a given that they will find their way into the Firefox release channel.
Firefox users can turn off sponsored content in the following way:
- Click on the cogwheel icon on Firefox's New Tab page.
- Uncheck "show sponsored stories" or "recommended by Pocket".
The current advertising model on the Web is broken according to Mozilla.
We believe the current model of web advertising is broken because it doesnâ€™t respect user privacy, isnâ€™t transparent, lacks control, all the while trending towards click-bait and low-quality content.
Mozilla's right in my opinion when it states that, and the brokeness of the advertising system is what drives users towards installing content blockers.
The organization uses Pocket's integration in Firefox to test a "responsible sponsored content model" that "supports high-quality content, respects user privacy, and that puts control back into the hands of usersâ€”and do so in a way thatâ€™s financially sustainable for the future health of the web".
Mozilla's model differs from traditional advertising models in several ways:
- Privacy -- personalization without invading user privacy, collecting huge chunks of data or sharing it with third-parties.
- Quality -- valuable content not driven by clicks (clickbait).
- Control -- options to hide stories or turn the system off completely.
- Transparency -- sponsored stories are marked as such.
- Openness -- source code available.
I'm not the target audience for sponsored stories or Pocket's integration in general. Heck, I don't interact with the New Tab page at all, and use it only to load new websites by interacting with Firefox's address bar.
This is not a Firefox-specific thing either, as I don't use the New Tab page in any browser.
The usefulness of sponsored content depends largely on the selection algorithm. While some users may object to sponsored suggestions, many probably won't mind as long as the recommended content is a good match. Those who do mind can turn off sponsored stories easily or turn off Pocket completely.
Now You: Has your stance on Pocket changed now that it is owned by Mozilla?
- Mozilla has a revenue share agreement with Pocket
- Please Mozilla, give me control over System Add-ons
- Pro and Con of Mozilla's Pocket integration in Firefox
As long as you can opt-out, I don’t see this as a major issue. Some people would probably like the idea.
This might sound pretentious, but at this time someone would have to make a conscious choice to use FF over Chrome or IE. And I can’t imagine such a person would appreciate any “sponsored content” in the software they use.
Yeah, make it opt-out instead of opt-in. Truly user-friendly. It’s the same story over and over again: Mozilla plays on the stupidity of its users. A great many users do not change ANY setting in the Preferences tab, let alone in about:config. Mozilla can safely assume that they could collect a grand amount of data even if a minuscule minority of users chooses to opt-out. That’s exactly how the AdBlock Plus whitelist (default on) works: The Eyeo GmbH (developer of AdBlock Plus) knows that the vast majority of its users are not even aware of the opt-out. That’s the precise reason why companies like Google are bribing them into putting their ads on the whitelist. ABP knows that the users won’t opt-out, and the companies bribing them know it, too.
Mozilla has invested into Cliqz, a company which in turn owns Ghostery. The closed-source (Ironic, isn’t it?) Ghostery add-on is known for collecting user data which is then sold to advertisers. Go figure. Of course Mozilla would never ever abuse Firefox to collect user data and then sell the information with huge profit. I mean, who would? Hahaha…
What you describe is the tragedy of modern computing. Since around the 1990s, the tech industry has simplified computers “just enough” to make them usable by people with limited computer skills. It’s a dangerous formula that leads people to accept risks they do not understand. People are foolishly placing their trust in an industry that is all too happy to take advantage of them.
@ Jason: Agreed about the ‘dumbing down’ trend. For me, the best example is the horrid mess that is the Windows 10 Settings maze. Compare that to the organised and accessible wealth of options in the old Control Panel, and weep in despair.
“The closed-source (Ironic, isnâ€™t it?) Ghostery add-on is known for collecting user data which is then sold to advertisers. Go figure.”
I’ve been trying to tell people not to use Ghostery for years, but for them it’s like a bad habit they can’t break. They still believe in the Cliqz FUD as you can see from the debate below…
Love the euphisms as of late.
“Sponsored Stories” – aka ads.
Firefox users can turn off sponsored content in the following way:
Click on the cogwheel icon on Firefox’s New Tab page.
Uncheck “show sponsored stories” or “recommended by Pocket”.
But does that stop the backround slurping and data sharing/selling with their “partners”?
This is a facetious question.
Everyone who believes that Firefox is a privacy-respecting browser is either completely uninformed or lying, in my humble opinion.
Mozilla has invested into Cliqz, a German company which in turn owns Ghostery. Ghostery is known for collecting user data and selling them to advertisers. Needless to say, this is completely detrimental to the reason why people use the add-on in the first place. Moreover, Ghostery is closed source, so the general public doesn’t have an idea of what is actually going on. We know that Ghostery is sending its data to advertisers only thanks to third party software which was used to intercept its outgoing connections.
Cliqz has been an experiment in German-speaking areas. The add-on installed itself silently as a drive-by attack. It recorded the whole browsing history, keystrokes, as well as search inqueries. Hell, even mouse movements. This is actually worse than what Google does all the time. The add-on, as it is classified as a separate entity, did not appear in the Firefox source code. This is how to stop being a frog in the privacy-evading laboratorium; set:
network.allow-experiments – false
experiments.enabled – false
experiments.supported – false
experiments.activeExperiment – false
experiments.manifest.uri – delete the entry
The Activity stream “feature” introduced in Firefox 57 creates cookies for certain sites at the browser startup even if the user has never even visited the site. Go figure. It’s as privacy-evading as it gets. Mozilla allows that by default. To stop Activity stream’s activity (pun intended), set:
browser.library.activity-stream.enabled – false
browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.enabled – false
Everyone who entrusts them with private information is foolish beyond comprehension.
Use Pale Moon, Waterfox, Iridium, or whatever. Mozilla won’t protect your privacy. Quite the contrary.
You’re stating facts and no one can deny facts.
May be superfluous but I’d add,
browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.aboutHome.enabled — false
browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.prerender — false
At east it’s doable but how to disagree with your first comment stating that most unaware users take things as they are and therefor never opt-out. It’s doable but it should be opt-in, all privacy related features should be opt-in. A company cannot emphasize on its respect of privacy on the ground of opt-outs, this way of proceeding may legalize a contractual semantic but it doesn’t legitimate the very privacy concerns. Indeed.
“browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.aboutHome.enabled â€” false”
“browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.prerender â€” false”
I agree, it’s a compromise. At least you can turn much of this stuff off in FF. Try doing the same thing in open pipe Chrome where you have no protection at all.
And yes, it should be opt-in by default, but since it isn’t, it’s up to the end-user to take action like with what I quoted from you up above.
Could you post sources to back up your claims?
SURE, I CAN:
Ghostery sells data to advertisers:
Cliqz acquires Ghostery:
Cliqz is owned by Mozilla and Hubert Burda Media:
About the Cliqz experiment:
About the Activity stream:
– https://www.privacy-handbuch.de/handbuch_21d4.htm (Unfortunately, this source is in German, but it explains it the best, use Google translate if you are interested in its content.)
Very nice work, Appster, professional. I’ve copied your post for archiving.
Side-note : odd that your post has been quickly published even with links and that Sophie’s comment further on, apparently free of links (my belied considering her comment on her late comment), is not yet available.
Data sharing in Ghostery is opt in. I know this because I use it, and I was asked during installation. In Settings > Opt in, there are multiple â€œSupport Ghosteryâ€ checkboxes which are all unchecked for me, because I didnâ€™t opt in during installation.
Honestly, what is the problem with this?
â€œCliqz does not build browsing profiles for identifiable individual users with this data and, like Firefox, Cliqz is open source.â€
Where is the problem with this?
â€œMozilla’s model differs from traditional advertising models in several ways: Privacy — personalization without invading user privacy, collecting huge chunks of data or sharing it with third-parties.â€
Again, where is the problem?
If youâ€™re going to reply, please address my text and quotes directly, as Iâ€™m not interested in conspiracy theory-style arguments with vague, exaggerated claims.
> Data sharing in Ghostery is opt in. I know this because I use it, and I was asked during installation. In Settings > Opt in, there are multiple â€œSupport Ghosteryâ€ checkboxes which are all unchecked for me, because I didnâ€™t opt in during installation.
> This data collected is not stored or retained and you can opt-out of us collecting this data at any time by going to the GBE options page and following the instructions provided. Please know that if you opt-out of us collecting and using this information, you will still be able to use the GBE, but you wonâ€™t receive any product information or updates, and you may not have access to all of the GBEâ€™s functionality.
There it clearly says opt-out.
> â€œCliqz does not build browsing profiles for identifiable individual users with this data and, like Firefox, Cliqz is open source.â€ Where is the problem with this?
First off, collecting these data in general is unethical and should be illegal. You just can’t claim to be a privacy-respecting company anymore once you have done it. If their very principles are of any worth to them, there should be NO data collection, to begin with.
Secondly, as mentioned before, Cliqz came as a drive-by download and spied on users WITHOUT ANY USER CONSENT. This is hilarious for a self-proclaimed privacy-respecting institution.
Furthermore, we have no way to know if their statements are true, as we can’t monitor their servers. We are not their administrators, so we don’t know. Personally, I don’t believe them, as it is the very business model of Ghostery to sell user data to advertisers. Not profiling the data, for sure. It’s just just not credible.
And again, the Cliqz add-on did not appear in the main source code, you had to look elsewhere. And this very add-on in turn has technically (strategically, it has) nothing to do with Ghostery, which is closed source.
That being said, it is unethical whether they create profiles or not.
> â€œMozillaâ€™s model differs from traditional advertising models in several ways: Privacy â€” personalization without invading user privacy, collecting huge chunks of data or sharing it with third-parties.â€ Again, where is the problem?
First off, these data sets shouldn’t even reach Mozilla itself, let alone third parties. It’s spyware. Furthermore it is a known fact that Ghostery – which is owned by Cliqz, which is in turn owned by Mozilla – sells data to advertisers. Perhaps they should stop that practice, and thus regain their credibility.
Do you believe that the add-on of a company (Cliqz) owning a product known for its effectiveness in generating data for advertisers (Ghostery) is trustworthy? How do you know? Do you think what Mozilla says is true? Even if it was true that they don’t share the data (I don’t think they are genuine here), why would they collect them and still claim to protect user privacy? Something doesn’t match up here. They are going against their own principles by even attempting to collect these data sets, profiling or not, sharing with third parties or not. Does it give you a better feeling now that your data is supposedly stored on Mozilla servers only? I’d like to share your optimism, but I just don’t.
Regarding Ghostery and opt in vs. opt out, I donâ€™t remember if the checkboxes were pre-checked during installation, but what matters is that the user is given the choice. IIRC, there was a separate step during setup, in which the user is asked whether they want to share data to support Ghostery.
Implying that data collection is unethical and that it should be illegal, indicates that you donâ€™t know what anonymous data collection is to begin with. It is a legitimate mechanism used for analytics, telemetry, performance monitoring, etc. Browsers do it, ISPs do it, websites do it. The notion of it being banned completely is ridiculous. Should we ban cars because crashes happen? Youâ€™re painting a black-and-white picture because itâ€™s convenient for you, and you donâ€™t have to understand the topic in detail. Anonymous data collection if completely acceptable if itâ€™s done for a good reason. Just because you have trust issues with Mozilla does not make it ok for you to criticize them for collecting data anonymously, without looking into it further (e.g., what kind of data exactly is transmitted?).
“indicates that you donâ€™t know what anonymous data collection is to begin with”
There is no such thing as long as there is any mechanism to correlate multiple data collections with each other (such as an device ID, advertiser ID, IP address, etc.)
“It is a legitimate mechanism used for analytics, telemetry, performance monitoring, etc.”
It is only legitimate if overt permission from the user is obtained before doing it.
“Anonymous data collection if completely acceptable if itâ€™s done for a good reason.”
To you. But each of us should be able to decide this matter for ourselves.
> Implying that data collection is unethical and that it should be illegal, indicates that you donâ€™t know what anonymous data collection is to begin with.
I know exactly what anonymous data collection is. I just believe that this is not what Mozilla does. It’s my opinion, which has its roots in the fact that Ghostery sells data to advertisers. If they stop this known practice I will give their statements way more credit. Not before.
> It is a legitimate mechanism used for analytics, telemetry, performance monitoring, etc. Browsers do it, ISPs do it, websites do it.
The kind of data which is collected is important. I don’t care if Mozilla knows whether or not I have e10s activated, or whether or not my Flash plug-in crashed. However, Cliqz collected the following data, amongst others:
– exact location
– browsing history
– search queries
– time spent on each website
– mouse movements on the site
Please explain to me why Mozilla needs to know these things. It’s not like knowing my search queries does help them to enhance Firefox’s performance. Let’s be honest here.
> The notion of it being banned completely is ridiculous.
I hope the most intrusive practices will be banned some day, but I’m pessimistic when it comes to this. However, I think Mozilla’s claim of protecting user privacy is deceptive. Things like Cliqz clearly do the opposite.
> Should we ban cars because crashes happen?
Nah, that’s a bad comparison. Cars have multiple positive effects, e.g. bringing an old granny from A to B. Crashes are a mere side effect. Data collecting is only good for advertisers. It’s the main purpose of cookies and not a side effect by any means. It’s inherently user-hostile, while cars aren’t.
> Anonymous data collection if completely acceptable if itâ€™s done for a good reason.
Go on, then. Show me the good reason why Mozilla needs to know the things Cliqz collects. IMHO it’s just spyware, as these data sets don’t help to improve Firefox in any way. Those are NOT performance data sets.
> Just because you have trust issues with Mozilla does not make it ok for you to criticize them for collecting data anonymously, without looking into it further (e.g., what kind of data exactly is transmitted?).
Thing is, I don’t believe that they anonymize them. Especially when it comes to Ghostery, which sells data to advertisers. However, it’s a mute point to discuss the supposed anonymization, as I oppose this practice in general. They shouldn’t collect the things Cliqz in fact does collect, period.
Å ime Vidas, one thing regarding the anonymous data collection that you seem to love so much: what happens when hackers get the security certificates for the SSL connection used by big data harvesting corporations?
With “anonymous” data collection you have a larger surface attack for no actual benefit at all.
…but you seem to beLIEve big data harvesting corporations.
I actually do want to address your quotes directly, so no need for you to mention it. :)
Let’s start with the first quote: â€œCliqz does not build browsing profiles for identifiable individual users with this data and, like Firefox, Cliqz is open source.â€ There are several problems here:
1. What Cliqz considers to be user-identifiable and what a user considers to be user-identifiable may be two different things. This is especially the case if data are aggregated (by Cliqz, Mozilla, or someone else, legally or illegally) from multiple sources.
2. I am of the belief (opinion seems too weak a word in this context, although ultimately it is an opinion) that the user should have ultimate control over what kind of data sharing he does. To state this differently, the burden is not for the user to convince Cliqz why the data must remain private; it’s for Cliqz to convince the user why the data must be collected in the first place.
3. As for the open source comment, all I can say is “meh”. I’m a heavy user of open source myself (100% Linux user here), but I don’t see open source as some kind of holy grail. Can the user read the source code? Did the user install from source or from a binary? Is the binary the same as the source? Is it possible for an update to be delivered to the original binary that deviates in a significant way from source? etc. etc. etc.
Now to the second quote: “Mozillaâ€™s model differs from traditional advertising models in several ways: Privacy â€” personalization without invading user privacy, collecting huge chunks of data or sharing it with third-parties.â€
1. Appster did a fine job above talking about how Mozilla is getting involved with third parties (often by buying them – but I guess they’re not technically third parties anymore /s).
2. They do actually collect data in the background if you’re not really, really careful with the settings. Tom’s post above is a case in point, because I had set browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.enabled to false without realizing there were two other related settings that ALSO need to be set to false to prevent background data transmission. There are several examples of this. The beauty of Firefox is that you can actually stop all this behaviour if you jump into the about:config settings. But Mozilla really makes you work hard for your privacy.
3. I go back to my previous point about Cliqz: I insist on having the final word on what data my computer will send out to the network. A company can give me this power in two ways: by asking me to opt-in for data sharing, or by giving me a setting that I might miss that will opt me out of data sharing. Both strategies theoretically accomplish the same thing, but the second one is rather underhanded because most users will not even be aware it’s an option.
The user seems to have full control via about:config. The stuff that Mozilla is testing is in its experimental phase, so the documentation is not there yet.
â€œI insist on being having the final word on what data my computer will send out to the network.â€
This is just pure utopia. Among the major browsers, Firefox is as close as you will ever get in having control over what data is sent.
“This is just pure utopia.”
No, it’s an assertion of personal rights.
“Among the major browsers, Firefox is as close as you will ever get in having control over what data is sent.”
Which is an excellent reason to avoid the major browsers.
> No, itâ€™s an assertion of personal rights.
It can be both. Excuse my lack of imagination, but I canâ€™t think of a scenario in which the user would ever be in full control over their data on the Internet. The best thing we can do is support the one major player, Mozilla, that has higher standards for user privacy.
I believe we are entitled to expect a reverse of duties. In the same way that Jason above writes “To state this differently, the burden is not for the user to convince Cliqz why the data must remain private; itâ€™s for Cliqz to convince the user why the data must be collected in the first place.”, in the same way, and to prolong the idea, its up to the developers to propose clearly what may be nice technically speaking but include privacy issues. If we start, or end-up, reasoning in an excessively pragmatic way then we’re close to defeatism. My opinion is that whatever application must be 100% respectful of privacy out of the box. If I create a new FF profile, provided I haven’t included autorun setings, Firefox is *not* respectful of my privacy. It is once I’ve set it correctly, not before.
Of course full control is most likely an aim, but improved controls is possible. This is what anyone concerned by privacy struggles for. For one’s own privacy he’ll be satisfied by opt-outs (about:config settings), but if he’s concerned by the sake of others then the perspective is different and calls for opt-ins. Once you forget yourself inevitable the comment becomes “political” in the noble sense of the word.
I often defend Firefox on the ground of my own relationship with the browser and therefor, settings being available, I’m happy enough. Then I read users stating their beliefs to a higher level than mine because including others, and I admit — when their arguments are not hyperbolic — that I’d be right to see a bit further than my own belly. It’s good to read preoccupations concerning others than ourselves, and those often stated by users who obviously manage very well the toughest edges of computing : it’s not only the argument of beginners.
@Å ime Vidas, if you want to use Ghostery, go right ahead. Nobody’s stopping you. But I doubt you’ll be able to convince most people here, otherwise.
As far as I’m concerned, Cliqz isn’t to be trusted on the same level as Microsoft is with data-collecting Windows 10.
>”Among the major browsers, Firefox is as close as you will ever get in having control over what data is sent.”
Having control is one thing which concerns users aware and skilled enough to control. But indeed as it’s been said and repeated, the switches are there.
Seems to me the debate is about what entitles a company to declare itself privacy concerned when it comes to its applications, software. Is it that settings are made available to allow a user to effectively enjoy as much of privacy as possible (let’s assume the best : all privacy has its switches) or is it that the settings — be they accessible — be by default in favor of the user’s privacy? It’s the opt-in verses opt-out eternal dilemma.
I use Firefox because settings made available, but I’d consider Firefox as truly privacy concerned if all privacy settings were by default in favor of the users, which they are not.
Consequently Firefox is not (or wouldn’t be assuming opt-in isn’t factual) at this time ultimately concerned by users’ privacy (less and less in fact). I’d say it may be the best blend available between the imperatives of business and those of respect for its users.
Of course most valuable alternatives exist, close to Firefox is Waterfox (and Cyberfox, still alive), further ‘Pale Moon’ and Basilisk. Several parameters in a user’s choice, no idea which would embrace them all to an optimal synthesis.
“Data sharing in Ghostery is opt in.”
When I was using Ghostery, each update was resetting settings, trackers library and data sharing (before I left this extension). Of course, everything happened by accident – each fucking time.
I tried your changes, and I was impressed.
After I rebooted (to ensure a “cold start”) I found Firefox starting in about 2 seconds rather than the 30+ seconds with all of those features. And I didn’t have to wait several seconds for the new tab page to get its act together.
“Everyone who believes that Firefox is a privacy-respecting browser is either completely uninformed or lying, in my humble opinion.”
I hear you, but I do think this is a bit hyperbolic. It’s true that Firefox’s “respect” for user privacy has eroded greatly over the last few years — but, at least for now, it does remain possible to configure Firefox to stop passing your data out unnecessarily. That you have to use “about:config” to do it demonstrates an uncomfortable level of disrespect, but at least you can.
“[…}an uncomfortable level of disrespect” is a perfect way of putting it.
Of course as you remind it, let’s avoid being hypebolic. You aren’t and therefor your comments are receivable.
It’s enjoyable to have debates in an hysteria-free environment.
>Now You: Has your stance on Pocket changed now that it is owned by Mozilla?
Pocket is malware. The spyware kind of malware. Thankfully it can still be removed (and the new tab garbage they implemented in v57) by just clearing the entire “\Mozilla Firefox\browser\features\” folder.
Speaking of which, I run this after every Fx update (I update manually by downloading the offline installer), before starting the browser:
del /S /Q “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\browser\features\*” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\gmp-clearkey\*” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\crashreporter.exe” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.VisualElementsManifest.xml” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\maintenanceservice.exe” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\maintenanceservice_installer.exe” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\minidump-analyzer.exe” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\pingsender.exe” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugin-container.exe” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugin-container.exe.sig” “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugin-hang-ui.exe”
Save as .bat and run as admin. I added a few more things into my deletion list since Fx 57. If you run FireFox x86 on Windows x64, you want to change the paths from “Program Files” to “Program Files (x86)”. Use Ctrl+H.
I find it curious that mozilla needs to do this.
mozilla corporation rakes in millions anuually and the “”non-profit” mozilla needs sponsorship and donations….?
what on earth.?
does it really cost millions to produce firefox.?
i don’t think so somehow.
i am of the belief that the non-profit mozilla organisation is just a public face for the underlying corporate greedy mozilla.
Thats my opinion.
I’d like to invite everyone to use Pocket and to not disable planned personalized recommendations and sponsored stories. The company has to make a living. I don’t use Firefox’s Pocket so-called system add-on but if I wish to continue using Firefox they’ll have to be users maintaining the company’s head out of the water, this is a swim or sink world, right?
If I don’t use Pocket it’s because of an insane paranoia I cannot manage to get rid of. Fortunately the immense majority of users are healthy and therefor will undoubtedly enjoy this fantastic piece of code and allow our beloved mother company to swim as we surf.
@Tom – I think you make a very good point, and I would have also written or echoed just your words. The same reason I paid for Protonmail when I didn’t need to….. my view is that instead of being so quick to sharply reply to these things negatively, to look and see that sometimes, they can be necessary for the funding, development etc.
Not everyone will agree with this, and I understand that trust has been broken everywhere. I really have suffered a catastrophic failure of trust, myself, in many digital areas of life.
But nothing comes for free, and if it can be disabled, removed….or nice people post hacks that suffice for those of us that wish to use them, then…so be it.
So in other words you asked everyone else to be your meat shield? Better follow Appster’s suggestion: use Waterfox. It’s Firefox but without all the garbages.
Looks like I enjoy a risky life provided being bodyguarded. No one is perfect.
Luxury, calm and voluptuousness is my credo. If some offer themselves, willingly ot not, as shields why wouldn’t I enjoy it? After all a General doesn’t come to the front when he’s more useful using his brains rather than his muscles. No?
@Tom Hawack: With all due respect, Tom… Getting yourself into Firefox 57+ with its piss poor (and worsening) privacy defaults and limited ways to prevent spying, was not your smartest idea. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that it will get better any time soon. Would be surprised if Mozilla still offered options to disable all their privacy-evading stuff in five years time. They have lost their way a long time ago.
@Appster, as we know, “the pros and the cons” …
On this thread, bouncing on the article, we focused on Firefox’s privacy issues: that’s in the browser’s cons category, and it’s a mighty con.
About the pros. Firefox 57+ so-called ‘Quantum’ is, technically, an extraordinary achievement. It is in a way a brand new browser, highly advanced.
Pros & cons, the balance in my regard is worth switching to Quantum rather than staying in the trail of the browser’s past code, with privacy enhanced but stagnant architecture available on Firefox forks. That’s how I see it, I’m not saying nor even thinking I’m right.
If Firefox 57 had appeared to be only a Webextension browser with no improvements over previous versions I would have adopted Waterfox. I’ve used it as you know, even installed it on my friend’s/neighbor’s computer! Waterfox is great… but my option was and remains to follow latest technology marvels deployed in Firefox Quantum.
Pros & cons : if the cons (privacy issues) were not adjustable (about:config) then not one doubt in my mind : I wouldn’t use it.
It’s up to each of us. I’m aware of what the smartest ideas can be. I try to be rational and then we face those pros and cons, we attribute a weight to pros and cons items, and then there is a user’s preferences, not always rational. Finally the possible margin between what we choose for ourselves and what we’d advise to choose : note that when someone ask for an advice we often ask : “What do search for, optimization, power, privacy/security?” etc which does mean that choices are tailored on expectations, far form a universal “smartest idea” … :=)
I truly appreciated your clear and educated comments here yesterday regarding Mozilla’s adventures in the privacy area.
Read you later, alligator!
While Quantum was clearly a performance gain over FF56, it is nowhere near the revolutionary speed the Mozilla Marketing made it out to be. Safari 11 on my Mac feels way faster than any Quantum build, and I have tested a few of them. If performance was much worse before, it might as well be due to hardware limitations of your PC. Just saying. When it comes to he speed of programs, your hardware is the most important factor. On very mighty configurations you shouldn’t see too much of a difference.
Most people mistake animations for performance. So, if smoother animations are used, the program is perceived as being “faster”. That has nothing to do with actual loading times, though. The actual gains are in the millisecond range here, and if you can see that with your own human eyes, then I have no choice but to envy your cyborg-like abilities. Just my two cents.
Regarding Firefox’s “privacy”: The writing is already on the wall, Tom. Remember how we once talked about the abuse of power? Mozilla knows that they are in a sort-of “cartel situation” with Google, Microsoft, and Apple. I don’t think that any of the contenders put much effort into ensuring user privacy, or even any at all. Google makes huge profits with selling user data, as well as its own advertising efforts. That’s no secret. Mozilla sees how Google is basically printing money, and they rightfully ask themselves: “Why shouldn’t we make ourselves rich, too?” So, instead of being the most user-friendly, best option on the market, they are now aiming to be the “least bad” of the big four, knowing fully well that people have no alternative among the mainstream browsers that they know of.
That’s unethical, cartel-based, user-hostile behavior, no other way to put it. That Mozilla is claiming to protect user privacy is borderline deceptive, to say the least. The defaults of Firefox are not configured that way, as you have already stated multiple times.
I said it time and again; people do not have any alternative among the mainstream browsers, and most are not experienced enough to make use of about:config. Ã€ propos about:config: Mozilla could very well remove that one, too, citing marginal usage as their reason. 99% of their user base wouldn’t mind. I am actually surprised that they kept it around, considering the path on which they are now.
The only way to punish them for their user-hostile actions is to stop using Firefox, and to stop recommending it to others. Less users means less donations, meaning less money for the managers. That will change their opinion, to be sure. The exodus needs to be significant, though. You and me are nowhere near the numbers it would take.
I think that using Firefox, knowing fully well how its protection of user privacy eroded over the years, comes off as slightly dishonest, Tom. You are forfeiting your right to complain even if Mozilla should introduce an anti-privacy feature you can’t disable, because you could have known where all their previous actions would lead to. I don’t want to hear any complaints on your part if that happens, you have been warned.
We should support the minor alternatives, as long as they are respecting user privacy more than Firefox. As for myself, I am eagerly awaiting the Waterfox 60 ESR the WF dev has announced, not so much because I think it will be the superior browser, but due to the fact that using this browser will show Mozilla that users value their privacy. Far too few users make use of minor alternatives, IMHO. But then, to each their own. Again: You’ve been warned, the writing was on the wall, so don’t complain later on.
I’m warned and I won’t complain, Appster :=)
Complaining is not my style, anyway.
“Ã€ propos about:config: Mozilla could very well remove that one, too[…]”
Should that ever happen that I’d uninstall immediately Firefox, as I’ve already said.
If I agree with your spotting of privacy issues illustrated by facts no one can deny, within Firefox but as it appears, related to a global Mozilla policy, I just cannot follow you on the toughness of your condemnation. I don’t think it is as much of a tragedy as I interpret your sayings. It is essential to hunt, chase, spot and denounce any, all privacy issues but, considering once again that these issues are fixable the tragedy becomes a soap-opera, IMO.
Concerning subjectivity and the importance of the user’s system when it comes to evaluating an application’s velocity, rendering, snappiness, of course. I’m comparing FF pre-57 and Quantum on the same OS, of course, and seems you agree on that,
“While Quantum was clearly a performance gain over FF56,[…]
even if, too nice to be true, you add,
“it is nowhere near the revolutionary speed the Mozilla Marketing made it out to be”
It is revolutionary here, I can tell you. Even if, I agree, it would be less on a highly powerful OS.
Anyway, a life with a browser is a bachelor’s one : we can always split, no fuss, no alimony!
I’m spending a nice time with Quantum but in case I find a more suitable browser I won’t even have to send a bouquet of roses to beloved futur-ex! You mention Waterfox 60 on the road-map, I’ll follow it (not her!) and, who knows?
I’ve never been and never will be a company’s or even a browser’s attorney. I don’t advise people, first because I’m no specialist but also because I have no reason to paste my choices on others’ quests. We’ll see!
> It is essential to hunt, chase, spot and denounce any, all privacy issues but, considering once again that these issues are fixable the tragedy becomes a soap-opera, IMO.
Not really, Tom. It is bad business practice in general and a major failure when it comes to all those out there who don’t know how to handle about:config. Mozilla claims that it protects user privacy, which is not true and – if you ask me – deceptive. I think we both know that the privacy settings are always in flux. There is no optimal setting that everybody would call “private enough”. However, the current state of the settings gives me the vibe that Mozilla is not even trying. They could at least try to improve upon the current state, but they just don’t. That wouldn’t bother me as much if they hadn’t tried to convince people that they are the most private major browser out there. Their definition of private is: “Well, there are switches to turn off(!) the most evasive things.” As mentioned above, that’s certainly an uncomfortable level of disrespect. I’d go as far as calling their claims deliberately deceptive.
> Concerning subjectivity and the importance of the userâ€™s system when it comes to evaluating an applicationâ€™s velocity, rendering, snappiness, of course. Iâ€™m comparing FF pre-57 and Quantum on the same OS, of course, and seems you agree on that,
That’s not what I meant to say. Look, I have an i7 Quad Core, 16 GB RAM, SSD sitting here. I am used to programs starting up in an instant, and I am used to extremely fast rendering times. So even if Quantum was faster and/or more efficient, I wouldn’t know it. My Mac has no performance problems, ever. Firefox 56 starts up in an instant, and so does Firefox 57. The hardware basically negates any performance gains I might otherwise witness. If your configuration is much weaker, then it might be that Firefox 57 is faster for you. I was not too impressed, due to the sheer hardware power of my machine. And that’s the deciding factor. Period. It’s not like there could be different opinions on the matter. Hardware > Software optimization, any day.
So call me crazy, but I’m not too impressed by Quantum. I am not saying that people calling Quantum fast are wrong, I am just saying that the difference they are witnessing is due to their systems being underpowered in the first place.
> It is revolutionary here, I can tell you. Even if, I agree, it would be less on a highly powerful OS.
May I ask: Is your configuration just standard or even sub-standard? Because if you had hardware powerful enough to load things instantly, you would be hard-pressed to spot any difference.
> Iâ€™ve never been and never will be a companyâ€™s or even a browserâ€™s attorney. I donâ€™t advise people, first because Iâ€™m no specialist but also because I have no reason to paste my choices on othersâ€™ quests. Weâ€™ll see!
Neither am I. Look, it’s not like I could go out there and install anything on the PCs of the people I am having a discussion with. So that’s a mute point.
I am just trying to warn people, to make it clear to them that they cannot blindly trust Mozilla. That’s like rating a hotel without any hospitality claiming to be the most tourist-friendly place on earth. It’s meant as a warning sign for other people. However, contrary to a failed trip abroad, dealing with the very privacy of people requires far greater warning signs and far more commitment to the critique you utter. It’s a serious, long-term matter. The problems won’t vanish in the short term, and are of huge scale. People need to be informed about constant privacy breaches, that’s more important than a hotel where the food isn’t tasty.
Calm down Appster, I understand your point. I once asked Tom what browser ‘speed’ he talked about. He said that the new Firefox started 1 second faster for him. Because he opens and closes browser often, it’s a big deal to him. That’s why as you said, the revolutionary ‘speed’ everyone talking about is really subjective.
It’s different from when we talked how Firefox was faster than IE, that time everyone was one the same page about ‘speed’.
ps: I have i5 and i7 without SSD
I think you’re completely insane to use Pocket, but that’s my opinion. Do you leave your car door open, house unlocked, eyes closed walking in Compton? Hell no; well, if you did, I’d know to expect it. And those activities are no where near as dangerous as the profile companies can build from your information.
Imagine if the Khmer Rouge had this information at their disposal; Mao Zhe-Tung’s Great Leap Forward; the Bolshevik Revolution, et al. Thinking that state actors don’t use this information to profile people is naive beyond belief.
I use Firefox now because I have to, not because I desire to and will stop using them as soon as I can find an adequate replacement. I no longer advocate for using Firefox, and have encouraged people to use Safari, Edge, or hell, anything, because Mozilla is no different than the rest.
And, it all may be moot, anyway, since hardware attack vectors have existed for a long, long time (Meltdown and Spectre are the most recent examples).
Martin….sorry if this has been answered….but I found just now, answering to Tom, as I have usually found, that if someone (we) “edit” a comment, to change a word or correct a mistake, etc….then the comment that would have been immediately submitted, is suddenly “lost”, until the powers that be, seem to decide that the “edited” comment can go through….
What is the logic that an unedited comment is immediate, but one that we have edited is not?
Sorry that this has nothing to do with this thread, but it is frustrating nevertheless. I’m sure you don’t run these comments, and they are probably hosted and managed elsewhere, so the strange logic is probably not yours!
Before Martin answers you, Sophie,
“What is the logic that an unedited comment is immediate, but one that we have edited is not?”
Indeed. I believe we are many to search for what could appear as not even a fuzzy logic.
This is also why I sometimes choose to leave flagrant mistakes on my comments rather than correcting them when I spot them too lately, once the ‘Post Comment’ button clicked.
I’m lingering to read your postponed comment, Sophie :=)
Thank you so much, Tom.
So you have seen the same thing. For a long time I have read Martin’s article and read all the many replies…for at least two years I would say. But it’s only recently, that I decided to contribute my thoughts.
Ghacks is one of my favourite technology sites, but this strange and fuzzy logic has absolutely no logic!!
I will try to not correct any mistakes in future. I had hoped that this strange behaviour in the comments section would have been corrected after Martin’s new “Theme”.
And actually, given that our email addresses are not validated……the logic is even more odd. We are essentially unknown, un-validated…. but the minute we Edit……..bam! Message lost.
It’s been well over an hour, and still its not shown up. Not to worry!
Sophie, two conditions are known and understandable to explain a comment’s publication being postponed, but you certainly know that all,
1- When the email is new, and perhaps when no email (not sure of the latter);
2- When a comment includes a clickable link, though strangely I’ve noticed a disparity in the consequent delays, sometimes quasi immediate other times several hours.
Remains, free of the two conditions, the situation where a comment has no clickable link, includes a known user’s email, is immediately published as such but, if edited with no addition of a clickable link, appears nevertheless to be published with delay. I understood that was the scenario of the comment you mentioned above and that is a mystery.
Conclusion : Known user email + comment free of clickable links + a user’s labor to read/edit his comment before sending it in order to avoid publication delay. As when we send an email (some are important and you know that once you’ve clicked the ‘Send’ it’s on its way … too late to bring any correction, for the best as for the worst!).
What we also know is that a comment which does not appear immediately is nevertheless registered : if you copy/paste the comment as if it were a new comment you are told the comment has already been sent… change one letter, one punctuation and it’s considered as new : fortunately teachers in school don’t read their pupils’ work that way!.
I still don’t know what your delayed comment answering mine was all about.
I could imagine it expressed either a doubt (was I serious or not?) but rather, considering you are a fine spirit, a big laugh. This is only speculation, with little risk since I speculate on two alternatives :=)
Now about my recipe of the famous “Boeuf Stroganoff” … ooops, off-topic!!
Tom….well, here we are a couple of hours later! My message @Tom has still not appeared, yet all I did was edit it to correct a small spelling mistake. Grammar is everything, because words have such meaning, and can be so powerful….changing a context, or even a whole meaning of what one is trying to say.
So thank you for this advice about why or why not, a message will appear (or disappear). In future, I will do my best to get it right first time!
And all I was really trying to say, was to agree with you…that nothing is free, and they do have to be paid for, if we wish to continue to enjoy a service, or the development of something. That was the ‘gist’ of it….though it was slightly longer than that!
And to you, dear Martin? Perhaps you do not control the commentary, but with your lovely new Theme (well, I like it), the ability to correct ones’ mistakes, without losing the message (don’t shoot the messager!!!) will be appreciated. :) Best
I’ve encountered, but really exceptionally, a comment not being at all published, apparently vanished, obviously not on the account of censure given this is not the place’s style/policy unless maybe words would be excessively excessive, words but also ideas. So this is not the context; I’d rather consider a computing hiccup somewhere on the line.
Excessive, I’m afraid my humor has been! I was only trying to formulate a consensus between the idea of enjoying a browser in the comfort of egoism, protected by other users’ experiences and the idea that funding has to come from somewhere. I guess the argument is less that of money than that of the nuance between business and funding, in other words if a company is entitled to make money, if that is compatible with users’ privacy is it still when funding becomes business and therefor profit in its always more DNA triggers the risky path to the land of a privact-less environment? That’s the whole point IMO. No, I’m far from the left, but far as well from any extremes. Profit can become an extreme when it devalues rights on the ground of its own ascension. Let profit be but not if privacy, respect is concerned, or otherwise be it stated clearly. Besides personal choices which are all respectful there is a parameter which concerns all, which is to be authentic. I don’t believe health insurances when they caress me with brotherhood advertisement and communication, but I don’t disagree with their business once they state their position clearly, for example.
Hope to red you soon.
Good morning Tom!
Well, you probably have moved on from this thread, and it has had its’ moment.
But my original reply never did get posted….just because of a tiny edit. A agree with your last post here, re: profit/privacy…. and of course, its an endless task to balance these things correctly.
I won’t edit this!! It will likely disappear if I did.
Good morning Sophie :=) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-HTnFtkUVI]
I’m still here, nice to read you! Sun is shining here in the Valley of the Loire!
The wonder of being subscribed to a thread: wherever you go replies get to you :=)
True that we may get to loose focus on an article/thread/topic once the big rush has shifted to another/latest article, but I’m always surprised to receive notifications of comments about “old” articles sometimes, which means that users aren’t always and only concerned by the latest news but also by a topic for itself, which is a good thing.
>> Tom Hawack: “a commentâ€™s publication being postponed […]
1- When the email is new, and perhaps when no email (not sure of the latter);
2- When a comment includes a clickable link, though strangely Iâ€™ve noticed a disparity in the consequent delays, sometimes quasi immediate other times several hours.”
From experience of using Ghacks’ commenting platform, if no email address is given, the submitted comment will immediately vanish — ie. go into moderation. This is regardless of whether links are included in the comment.
A good commenting platform should publish the submission (including the commenter’s name & timestamp), but replace the content with the message “Under moderation”.
And once a comment goes into moderation, it may take many hours (or at least 1 day, in my case) for it to be released from moderation.
The reason is probably because we have to wait for Martin (or his assistant, if any) to check the WordPress (or similar) moderation panel, & release the held-back comments. There can be many dozens of held-back comments to sieve through & approve, depending on how regularly one checks the moderation panel.
Meanwhile, other users may receive notifications, but come here only to find no new reply/ comment. This is why a “Under moderation” message is beneficial — if only to let other users know that there are pending comments, & thus allow them to decide whether to check again later.
>> Tom Hawack: “if you copy/paste the comment as if it were a new comment you are told the comment has already been sent”
That’s likely due to the commenting plugin’s strategy to combat a typical habit of spammers, ie. copying & pasting the exact same content over & over again.
It’s the same reason as to why editing a submitted comment makes it go into moderation. For details, pls see my earlier reply (if already published) to Sophie.
>> Sophie: “What is the logic that an unedited comment is immediate, but one that we have edited is not?”
Perhaps the strategy is to combat spam. Some users (even those with registered accounts at forums) are known to submit a plausible non-spammy comment, which will get published.
Subsequently, these users will proceed to edit the already-submitted/ published comment — which won’t be moderated since it has been categorized as “safe” — to include spam content.
Seriously – why???
Mozilla is insanely rich, they don’t need money at all.
Yet they do something to earn pennies but will lose again lots of users that are pissed of as this will be all over the news.
I cannot but suspect that some of their managers are secretly paid by google to crash FF.
Everyone who wasn’t expecting this, raise your hand! No? Nobody?
At least they make it optional. I never liked the Pocket integration in general. For bookmarking I prefer Bookmark OS
“Has your stance on Pocket changed now that it is owned by Mozilla?”
Not at all. Mozilla’s handling of Pocket, though, has changed my stance about Mozilla. Well, that’s overstating it — but that, plus a number of other decisions they’ve made over the last few years, certainly has.
Uncheck “show sponsored stories” or “recommended by Pocket”.
I guess with 2 checkboxes “Pocket” in the future will have something else to recommend, otherwise what is the point of Mozilla to offer 2 choices for the same result? Why make it simple when you can make it complicated, I know why.
Also I think this wall thing, “Pocket”, looks like companies needed subcontractors to do the dirty work. Having integrated “Pocket” was to make it forget to the user that it is infact Mozilla under the hood trying to collect data. Nobody is fooled.
…whole not wall, sorry.
I just wanted to mention the advertising strategy of star security blogger Troy Hunt :
He has a specific sponsored banner, and he’s satisfied with it. Granted, his main revenue source comes from his consulting fees.
I don’t understand why what is in theory supposed to be a non-profit group that claims to have added a corporation to it’s non-profit wing only in order to save earnings for future investment in the browser and other Internet related endeavors from year to year, is constantly trying to add advertisements to it’s browser until it bows under the huge backlash it receives. This must be the 4th attempt to add advertisements.
The kicker is, the corporate browsers that don’t make any pretense about being non-profits and are just blatantly pursuing profit don’t even do this. Anyone seen any native ads (Not served by a website, from the browser itself) in Chrome, Edge, Safari, etc.? Google is literally an ad company and they don’t put ads in their browser (They do restrict Chrome on the Android platform from having ad-blocker add-ons, granted- which is why Firefox for that platform is better).
I’m currently using Firefox on two platforms (Though my use of it on PC is just since Quantum debuted and I decided to give it another try for a while after having abandoned it years ago. It’s the long-term semi-permanent browser for me on Android, though.). I turn off all the stuff I don’t like and don’t let it affect me, but I’m having trouble with the dissonance between what they say their mission is versus what they actually do sometimes. An actual foundation making a web browser that puts it’s users first instead of profits would be great. That’s what Mozilla says it is. It doesn’t act that way, though.
I use Cyberfox, which has never adopted any of Firefox’s privacy-intrusive “features” or unintuitive “improvements”. Hence, Cyberfox’s impending demise is tragic, even while Firefox becomes increasingly draconian in its ways.
For those who blithely ask what’s wrong with making users having to opt out of invasive or potentially unwanted features **integrated into any main application**, there are at least 2 similar scenarios that one can compare with, to see if this kind of predatory behaviour is acceptable or not.
1) When you buy a plane or train ticket, it quietly comes with paying for additional third-party travel insurance as well. And not only is the opt-out option stated in very small print, it is also deeply hidden away at the bottom of the form or multi-page screen. And nope, you can’t even choose the insurer, should you wish to help the transport company earn third-party commissions.
2) There are places where the mandatory national social security program (supposedly non-profit, right ?) opts everyone into a third-party health insurance scheme, which auto-deducts a 4-figure sum (US dollars equivalent) yearly from your social security savings for the rest of your life, but offers very paltry payouts & in conjunction with very stringent qualifying criteria.
And the only way to opt out is to mail a signed form to the assigned third-party insurance company, who incidentally now has all your personal details, courtesy of the national social securities department which considers itself your saviour for having pre-emptively “opted you into” the insurance package.
If the majority happily settles for such a compromise — hey, at least they provide a hidden away &/or inconvenient opt-out feature, right ? — the situation will never improve. Or more likely, the situation would degrade into a worse state. Take for instance the real-life scenario (2) mentioned above, there is **no longer any opt-out option** since 2 years ago.
I disable these pocket nonsense, never used it and never will.
Glad I uninstalled Pocket from Firefox the minute I loaded it.
I never liked this pocket rubbish. If I wanted to look at a page later I will record it on a document elsewhere on a private list. Why should I get up-to-date with the facebook “what are you doing now? And now? And now? And now?” syndrome so that every time I answer I have to have a running commentary with AI about my next steps so it can be used to cause my ultimate exploitation/entrapment in some future date. If a page is that important that I want to look at it later, it gets a diary entry that can be burnt, and a schedule for checking. All are offline and not on the spyware that people nowadays wrongly call “personal” computers. What a disgusting world of grubby individuals and organisations with a farce of buzzwords to mix up people. Demonic grubs that deserve the end of their prolonged lives.