Firefox 60: sponsored content for US users

Martin Brinkmann
May 2, 2018

Mozilla plans to show sponsored content to Firefox users from the United States in Firefox 60. The organization plans to do so without sacrificing privacy and has published information and code already that highlights the data that Firefox collects.

If you look back a couple of years, you may remember that Mozilla tried to establish a new revenue stream in 2014 by introducing sponsored tiles in Firefox. Tiles referred to the default list of top sites that Firefox displays on the New Tab Page of the browser on new installations.

I did not think the revenue stream was sustainable or worth the man-hours that Mozilla put into it. Mozilla did drop sponsored tiles in 2015 but the idea to add a revenue stream to Firefox was not off the plate.

The read-it-later service Pocket announced in 2016 that it would show sponsored stories to free users of the service's integration in Firefox. Mozilla acquired Pocket in 2017 and revealed in early 2018 that Pocket might display sponsored content in Firefox.

Firefox 60: sponsored stories on New Tab Page

firefox 60 sponsored stories pocket

Note: Sponsored stories are different from recommended stories. Sponsored stories are labeled as such, and the core difference is that Mozilla gets paid for sponsored stories whereas it does not get paid for recommended stories.

Tests on Beta and Nightly channels of Firefox ran for a couple of months already but the rollout to the stable channel in Firefox 60 will increase the reach of the advertisement significantly even if it is only active for users from the United States.

Mozilla promises that the integration of sponsored stories in Firefox 60 will not sacrifice user privacy or the quality of content.

The organization revealed that all the data crunching to select sponsored content is done on the client side and the only data that Mozilla collects is the impression count and the number of clicks that items receive aggregated.

We’ve come to accept a premise around advertising today that users need to trade their privacy and data in exchange for personalized, high quality experiences. Our experiments over the last few months have proved that this isn’t true.

We are indeed able to create personalized sponsored content that provides value to users without jeopardizing their privacy.

Firefox users have full control over the feature. They can disable sponsored content only or disable recommendations altogether.

  1. Open the New Tab Page in the Firefox web browser.
  2. Click on the settings icon (cogwheel) in the upper right corner.
  3. To block advertisement, uncheck "show sponsored stories".
  4. To block all recommendations, uncheck "Recommended by Pocket".

Closing Words

Adding advertisement to Firefox, or any other browser for the matter, is a red flag for many users. Mozilla tries to find the right balance between adding a revenue stream to the browser and making sure that user privacy is not affected in a negative way.

Users are in full control as they may disable the feature; Mozilla promises that all processing happens on the client side which is definitely the right approach.

While I have no use for sponsored or recommended stories on the New Tab Page, part of Firefox's user base may find the feature useful.

I don't believe that Mozilla will generate lots of revenue out of this, however. I wish it would be different as it would reduce Mozilla's dependencies on other companies that pay it for integration of search engines in the browser. Most Firefox users would probably agree with the statement especially if it would mean that Mozilla could push native ad-blocking and other privacy features in the browser without having to worry about hitting its own revenue streams.

Now You: What's your take on this?

Firefox 60: sponsored content for US users
Article Name
Firefox 60: sponsored content for US users
Mozilla plans to show sponsored content to Firefox users from the United States in Firefox 60. The organization plans to do so without sacrificing privacy and has published information and code already that highlights the data that Firefox collects.
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  1. John S said on May 22, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Sadly Mozilla needs to shrink and go back to doing a browser and a couple other projects. They expanded too much trying to do a OS, all the while ignoring Firefox browser. Way too many wrong turns and most users abandoned Firefox long before Quantum and they are not coming back. Reality should be setting in that its Chrome browser dominating like IE once did, and the rest fight for the small market share made up of niche browsers.Mozilla needs to seriously shrink and fast or face disappearing.

  2. Lord Lestat said on May 6, 2018 at 11:02 am

    Well, you can call Mozilla today simply Google Light. There is not much difference anymore between that 2. Both are greedy, both are unfair. Whoever is actually seeing Mozilla as some kind of guiding star should better look at them again to see the truth – and realize that they are nothing else than a money-craving company. If they would be honest and reasonable, they would never accept Google money. But how is it called.. money does not stink, even if it is from an enemy!

    It is a blessing for everyone who sees the truth and finally gets rid of Firefox. Almost every single browser is more of value… almost every single developer is more honest and of relevance in comparison with what is called Mozilla today – yes, that includes also browsers like Vivaldi, Otter-Browser, Qutebrowser or Pale Moon.

    Mozilla is bleeding away every single real rational user – once they are all gone, what will be left then are jerks who down-vote and attack every opinion which goes against simple users demands which can be found on Reddit or 4Chan for example. But well… Mozilla loves to have that kind of user base around as it seems and gives a f*uck about people who are truly reasonable and friendly.

  3. Anonymous said on May 4, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Mozilla: “Security and privacy are not negotiable”

    Question: “En revanche, la fondation Mozilla est encore largement financée par Google. Cela n’est-il pas gênant ?”
    Mozilla: “Si l’on regarde bien, la Silicon Valley est remplie de ce genre de “meilleurs ennemis” et à peu près tout le monde a ce type de relation avec Google. Demandez à la plupart de ses clients et partenaires s’ils se sont déjà sentis menacés par l’entreprise et ils vous répondront par l’affirmative.” […]

    Google Translate: Question: “In contrast, the Mozilla Foundation is still largely funded by Google. Is not that embarrassing?”
    Mozilla: “If you look closely, Silicon Valley is filled with this kind of “best enemies” and just about everyone has this type of relationship with Google. Ask most of their clients and partners if they have ever felt threatened by the company and they will answer you in the affirmative.” […]

    Mozilla think: “Nous avons pensé à ne plus accepter d’argent de la part de Google, mais cela aurait juste remis cet argent dans la poche de leurs actionnaires.”

    Google Translate: “We thought about not accepting more money from Google, but it would just put that money in the pockets of their shareholders.”

    Mozilla’s pragmatism: “Not negotiable but in our pocket is preferable.”
    Question: How much in your pocket?

    1. Farid Le Fleur said on May 8, 2018 at 10:46 pm

      Money and statistics are not the solution for everything. That is a perfect song title Mozilla could present at the Eurovision 2018 by now.

      Granted, they would understand and care for this. Imagine Mozilla standing on the stage… Right now they would fail with zero points.

  4. rodndtube said on May 4, 2018 at 3:57 am

    Basilisk is fine by me. I used Pale Moon for a short while after abandoning Firefox at v55.x. There are certain user-interface customization capabilities that I prefer and Basilisk delivers.

  5. Rick A. said on May 4, 2018 at 2:10 am

    i already had Activity Stream disabled. So this will not affect me.

    i like using the “Mozilla Firefox Start Page”, preferably the old one which I guess we’ll never get back. Even a Blank New Tab or Blank Home Page is all I need.

  6. Sidney said on May 3, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    What’s wrong with Mozilla? Even Google does not do that kind of thing.

  7. Concerned Citizen said on May 3, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    If Adding advertisement to Firefox is the future, the future does not look good.

  8. Joseph said on May 3, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    People seem to forget that it cost REAL MONEY & resources to produce software. If users don’t want ads then they should be prepared to donate to the Mozilla foundation. No other browser has contributed more to the Internet community, privacy and digital freedoms than Mozilla Firefox. Firefox and Tor are perfect examples of this commitment among others.

    Is it Mozilla perfect? No. Ads suck but we have to be willing to stand up to support the things we believe in or they will not be around for us to choose in the future. Free and open source software requires of us to do just that. If we want this software to be free of the corporate influences like the many other browser options then we need to donate or it will not exist. I give EVERY year to each and every open source project that I use and I encourage others to either give or get involved with the project to help it thrive. Stop complaining, do something positive instead.

    1. Anonymous said on May 3, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      Just for example but sure many other wastes.. in september (la journée du patrimoine) you should visit (for free) the Mozilla Foundation in Paris and try to have an idea of the exorbitant rental price for such this grandiose/luxurious monument (Hôtel de Mercy-Argenteau 16 Bis Boulevard Montmartre). Donate for what, a foundation that claims working on open source projects spending so much money uselessly, to live like princes. No thanks.

      1. Krixus said on May 3, 2018 at 4:38 pm

        @Anonymous There is way too much around which is showing that Mozilla has lost their moral supremacy – something which they had… and real Opera had… many years ago.

  9. AnorKnee Merce said on May 3, 2018 at 10:24 am

    According to the latest April 2018 Netmarketshare numbers, Firefox has dropped.

    Seems, Webextensions in FF 57+ Quantum have not helped Mozilla to gain marketshare.

    1. Krixus said on May 3, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      To make it simple… The more mistakes you make, the more you are going down. That is an universal law.

    2. Krixus said on May 3, 2018 at 11:52 am

      @AnorKnee Merce The problem is that Mozilla is digging constantly a deeper and deeper going hole for the rest of the reputation they may have.

      With developers who are heavily polarizing, having not the most friendly developers, a certain part of the user base scaring potential users away because… like the developers themselves heavily polarizing for various reasons , coming more and more close to the Google business model and in general Chrome similarity and unwilling to show respect to old very loyal users (Opera had the same issue sadly)…

      You can never become number one of the market share ranking list.

      What Mozilla needs is a 100% shift of attitude, stop morally supporting the polarizing users – which are actually damaging the brand as a whole instead of increasing it’s reputation.

      As long as they refuse to make such a sharp and radical cut, as long they are suffering because of self inflicted wounds.

  10. Anonymous said on May 3, 2018 at 8:51 am

    First treat US users as guinea pigs, then spread the model all over the world.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 3, 2018 at 8:55 am

      The U.S. market is the most lucrative when it comes to advertisement.

      1. Krixus said on May 3, 2018 at 12:39 pm

        @Martin Brinkmann Indeed. You can make big bucks in America.

      2. Anonymous said on May 3, 2018 at 9:41 am

        Considering that Mozilla’s revenues are obscure, I’m not convinced that this could be the only reason.

  11. 11r20 said on May 3, 2018 at 4:00 am

    Thanks AddonDev and I will add it to the list…not sure if that will work
    since it’s a booleen setting…but will try it…Still looking for the “”useragent “”””string code””””
    for FF59 or preferably FF60 for 32-Bit if possible. Thanks in advance y’all from 11r20~~~North Texas

  12. Kevin said on May 3, 2018 at 3:59 am

    Mark my words. If people accept this, it will only get worse as time goes by. One day there will be banners in the browser or pop-up ads.

    If Mozilla has a cash flow problem, they shouldn’t have wasted so much of it on frivolous things. They should just concentrate on building a browser that’s just a browser, as small, fast and efficient as can be.

    1. Krixus said on May 3, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      @Kevin They are putting tons of effort in experiments, additional projects like that Virtual Reality browser.

      It all depends how you use the money you have. Even if you would have only a few bucks – if you use them wisely they are not lost.

      But this requires setting real priorities and stopping pumping tons of funds into side projects because of competition goals which are utterly unrealistcally as time is showing again and again.

  13. AddonDev said on May 3, 2018 at 1:23 am

    browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.showSponsored > false

  14. Use IE said on May 3, 2018 at 12:38 am

    Firefox is free open source software.

    If something is free then YOU are the product!

    I’m returning to Internet Explorer, which is thankfully not free and is paid for as part of Windows.

    1. John Fenderson said on May 3, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      “If something is free then YOU are the product!”

      That’s not universally true. I can think of many genuinely free things where you aren’t the product.

  15. 11r20 said on May 3, 2018 at 12:30 am

    Question…after this comment…many web site managers are “google brainwashed” and are now usin the google captcha box
    that has a data spy/sniffer inside it. These google boxes are saying I need to upgrade my old FF to the latest FF version.
    ((aint that some shyyt?))

    There are 2 sites I use for work where I need to git through though the gate.

    “Question” what is the about:config useragent over-ride “string” for FF 59 or 60 in 32 bit…if it still comes in 32 bit?
    And will this work to make my old FF look New? thanks in advance.

  16. 11r20 said on May 2, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Question…there are website mgrs out there who are google brainwashed…and are goin “”google captcha”” crazy.
    the “”Question is”” How do I make my old FF look like FF60″ in order to get passed the gate. The 2 captcha boxes i use
    for work are saying I have to upgrade to the latest FF…(((aint that some shyyt?)))

    there’s got to be a way around this nonsense.

  17. Kubrick said on May 2, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    All this bitching about firefox might nake sense if mozilla charged people for firefox but its free and many people work to give us not just firefox but other browsers too.
    This is very entertaining to say the least.

  18. Jessica said on May 2, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Ah, more anti-Mozilla nonsense in the comments, no matter how ridiculous. It’s par for the course at this point.

    1. Lord Lestat said on May 7, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      @Jessica What do you expect if Mozilla and most recent users of Firefox are hostile against user choice and additional features like customization and general accessibility features? That Mozilla should be praised?

      I suggest you guys change your attitude first and show power users a little bit more respect.

      Then we can talk about others giving more respect to you guys too.

    2. Krixus said on May 3, 2018 at 7:51 am

      @Jessica i guess you are a Mozilla developer or Mozilla representative? ;)

      1. Farid Le Fleur said on May 4, 2018 at 1:14 pm

        @Krixus Many Firefox users of today have a serious lack of differentiation. That makes a honest and fair discussion extremely hard.

        Another thing what was not present when enthusiasts – and with that i mean real feature enthusiasts who have been open for tons of customization options and general choice – have been the major part of the Firefox users.

    3. Bobby Phoenix said on May 2, 2018 at 8:58 pm

      Agreed. It’s very entertaining to me. “Firefox is a ripoff of Chrome”, “Firefox is cancer”, “Mozilla doesn’t care for users”, “Mozilla has no idea what they are doing”. I love it more that the Sunday comics. I get a real chuckle from them all.

  19. John Fenderson said on May 2, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    “What’s your take on this?”

    I don’t have a serious issue with any of it, personally. It seems like a reasonable compromise between revenue generation and privacy.

    That said, I also don’t have a use for it. I don’t use Pocket to begin with, but if I did then I’d disable this (along with “recommended stories”) because I wouldn’t want my list of “pocketed” things to be diluted with other stuff that I didn’t select.

  20. BINGO! said on May 2, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Swiching from Firefox to Pale Moon, Chromium alternative was a smart choice for me.

  21. Riley said on May 2, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    Advertising is like cancer — it never has enough. No matter how much space or time it has been given, it always wants more. More! MORE! Until it eventually kills its host.

    The deceit advertising uses to get its figurative foot in the door is that advertising will support “free” content. But beginning in the 1920s with broadcast radio, the content quickly ends up being created to serve the advertising. If a program doesn’t attract enough ears, or eyes, or clicks, to the ads, then the content needs to be dumbed down until it finds a sufficiently sheeplike audience.

    The insertion of advertising into a Web browser is but a logical extension of the pattern. Yes, advertising always promises that this time, unlike all other previous times, it will be “tasteful” and “unobtrusive”. Even “voluntary”. But that never lasts. Advertising’s core objective is to force itself into every corner of every person’s lives.

    By transforming Firefox into a clumsy and ugly clone of Google Chrome, Mozilla has destroyed the configurability and customizability that made the Firefox browser attractive and interesting. I don’t really at this point care what additional steps Mozilla takes to make Firefox crappier than it they have already made it…

    1. Krixus said on May 2, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      @Riley Best comment i have been reading in a long time.

      @Richard Allen Vivaldi or Qutebrowser or Otter-Browser or Qupzilla/Falkon for example. Not Mozilla related of course, but at the same time i am very thankful, because the makers are their users are at least not that embarrassing to such heights like Mozilla itself or a very big part of Mozilla’s user base.

      1. Richard Allen said on May 3, 2018 at 4:56 pm

        Do you have examples of any browsers that offer more configuration and customization options than FF does that maybe more than 3 people have heard of and use? Are there any concerns about browser fingerprinting when using a browser that very few people use? Vivaldi market share is only at 0.04 percent but you’ll recommend browsers with an even smaller user base? Excellent advise for the average user.

        For customization FF has more resources available. Configuration options in regards to security, privacy and performance will show a clear winner. And just to get it out of the way, I could care less about a purple theme being an option or about any of the other bloat aka features that I will never use.

        Without using an extension:
        Can the number of network connections that the browser uses be changed?
        Scrolling speed on a webpage?
        Smooth scroll duration for mouse and keyboard?
        Mousewheel minumum lines scrolled?
        Browser disk cache and max entry size?
        Browser memory cache and max entry size?
        Media memory cache and max entry size?
        Media cache readahead and threshold time (buffer amount)?
        Can video be downloaded by the browser? e.g. Instagram and Twitter video. It takes me maybe 5 seconds to start a download.
        Default volume level for media?
        Can the cache and/or offline website data and/or history be auto deleted at the end of each browser session?
        Any ad blocking and tracking protection, that works on all websites, offered in the browser?
        Can the number of processes used by the browser be changed, more than just limiting one process per website?
        Can webpages that use a bright white (#fff) background be changed (“browser.display.background_color” will change a lot of those pages, I use #f4f4f4)?
        Can the number of results shown when searching for bookmarks and history in the address bar be changed?
        Can webpages be prevented from changing the right-click context menu?
        Can webpages be prevented from changing/removing other window features like the close button?
        Can webpage zoom values be changed to use 5% increments?
        Can session tickets be disabled?
        Can addon updates be paused?
        Can webrtc be disabled?
        And, FF has more options when dealing with referers.
        At, you can see 5 cipher suites that Vivaldi uses are classified as weak, how do you stop them from being used?

        Some FF users and users of other browser are not aware of all the options listed above, plus other options not mentioned, but they’ve been around for years.
        I think we can all see that Vivaldi is the clear winner in config options. Or is it?

      2. Lord Lestat said on May 7, 2018 at 4:26 pm

        @Richard Allen There is also something around which is called accessibility features/customization features.

        Both have at least the same value like the features you and other simple users do prefer.

      3. Krixus said on May 3, 2018 at 7:41 pm

        @Richard Allen: Configuration options in regards to security, privacy and performance will show a clear winner.

        Well, while security-privacy-performance related features are good and nice and practical… With what you have posted, we are now entering the “my feature set is more of importance than your feature set”. And i also can not remember that someone has started a rap-battle.


        I can’t remember that the main focus of this talk was about security, privacy or performance.

        So, that is basically all what is for you of importance? Fine for you. Basically that is all what general users do care for. Everything else is seen as bloat. But you do know there are also a lot of people who love REAL customization – themes, UI modification and similar.

        Let me just mention 2 terms:

        1) Classic Theme Restorer
        2) built in UI customization features before version 29

        Basically you are saying (like many others who are using today Opera-new or Firefox-new) that all what “Firefox new” is featuring, is the only thing what matters. You know, that sounds a little bit arrogant. It may be a legitimate opinion, but nonetheless it is and stays a little bit arrogant.

        So, what is the point you wanted to present?

        Simplicity and security/privacy=good
        Other things=bad

        That is the kind of black and white way of thinking which geeks and general enthusiasts are trying to avoid. They think colorful, they are not bound to only one topic, they embrace everything, not separated – but together. And that is something what a lot of users from recent Opera and recent Firefox are not wanting at all. All what that guys want for is mainstream. And everything what is not mainstream compatible has to go.

    2. Richard Allen said on May 2, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      In reply to Riley.

      Excellent! LoL

      That said, we will have to agree to disagree about “Mozilla has destroyed the configurability and customizability”. Is there any browser that is not based on an old build that offers more configuration and customization options?

  22. Freeeeeeeeee said on May 2, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    It’s okay, we can disable it, and so long as it helps you in bringing more Rust components to Firefox! WebRender+Stylo+all-the-other-sweet-stuff For the Win!

    1. Krixus said on May 2, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      @Freeeeeeeeee And before i wrote about the arrogance of Mozilla-news user base. That all they care for is minimalism and simplicity.

      Mozilla is actually the only developer who has such lame paid cheerleaders… How in the hell is one being able to see a developer as serious when there is a large mass of audience which is just notoriously embarrassing.

      As long as Mozilla’s user base is overrun with something like that, as long it is very hard to see Mozilla as a serious developer – because they resemble more like some kind of Japanese Otaku cross-dressing club.

      1. It's okay to be Mozillian said on May 4, 2018 at 11:57 am

        @Krixus I don’t know what the problem is, FWIW I have Pocket disable by an about:config pref.

        Do you think that WebRender isn’t the best thing ever to happen to a browser? It’s freaking fast!! No I’m not giving up on a browser that is SO BUTTERY SMOOTH for something that even my grandma can disable.

        Mozilla did the right thing = less reliance on Google’s revenue, which is good. Think otherwise? Well donate to them to help!

      2. Farid Le Fleur said on May 4, 2018 at 1:07 pm

        @It’s okay to be Mozillian

        Btw. The Mozilla of way earlier, who was focusing on customization was way more sympathetic. Users have been able to show their own creativity and their skills and topics have not only been reduced to security or privacy or speed related themes.

        Today what is left is basically what the other big ones are enabling you to talk about… Nothing of what is unique or special – just mainstream based topics.

        And that is not great, this is sad.

        What earlier Firefox feature and customization enthusiasts have delivered.. the ones who have been driven away by Mozilla had much more substance and looked much less like a team mainly populated by commercial agents.

      3. Farid Le Fleur said on May 4, 2018 at 12:58 pm

        @It’s okay to be Mozillian

        I am pretty sure everyone agrees that Mozilla has also still a nice number of users left who are not… just… lame.

        But there is a large difference between a person which looks like some paid agent who is on some kind of neverending clapping-marathon and someone who shows a bit of healthy differentiation.

        If that.. what you are defending, actually IS the majority of the Firefox user base of today, then, we can say without thinking twice that Mozilla has a serious issue which they should resolve as soon as possible. There is a difference if you write in an intelligent way or if that what you present to the public is just plain dumb.

      4. Krixus said on May 4, 2018 at 6:18 pm

        @It’s okay to be Mozillian

        It is all about the vocal part of the users. They are responsible for a community going to prosper or going to dry.

        Power users/geeks/enthusiasts.. no matter how you want to call that group… when they have been Mozilla’s vocal target group, they NEVER have been in such a massive way been embarrassing. There was always a professional, more serious tone around. The general output tone was less aggressive and in no way anti-simplicity and anti-minimalism kind of carved in stone, instead it was seen as a the counterpart which should be around for simplistic users. Users of different opinion never have been down-voted or have been standing in the center of some lame kind of joke.

        Now lets make a radical stop and lets switch back to our present again. Everything which was present when power users have been the center is now the opposite. We have down-voting, joke cracking about accessibility/customization features and their supporters, this all has lost a serous tone and you really feel like you would watch some Anime fanclub – Heavily obsessed users who are not willing to accept any other opinions and are aggressive against users or developers who are not interested in joining this mainstream train of opinion.

        You can also almost transfer this 1:1 to the Opera fandom of today.

        The lesser the amount of power users and reasonable guys – the more a regressing shift of mentality.

        In the past, the term “Mozillian” had much of a more serious, honorable meaning. And it can not at all be compared to what this term means today.

  23. Xibula said on May 2, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    this remind me of adblock edge which was a fork of adblock plus to solely remove the “acceptable ads”
    later on we had ublock origin, a completely new adblock with no shenanigans
    while i’m not comparing a web browser to an extension, i think this could happen to Firefox someday, although i think what could save Firefox is the complexity that involves a web browser

    Mozilla could be the next eyeo GmbH

  24. ULBoom said on May 2, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    So, turn it off. Disable Pocket. Use New Tab Override or similar to set new tabs to whatever you want. Learn how to use about:config. FF is still far, far more configurable than the other mainstream browsers.

    I hate surreptitious information collection, we slam spy agencies for doing that but malware such as Facebook can spy on everyone and most users don’t care; fake fame is more important than one’s person, I suppose.

    But that’s how things are, data rules supreme; play the game you’re in and use software that is capable of stopping undesired online behavior. Maybe we’ll get more pay for privacy versions of software; I’d love that.

  25. Leo said on May 2, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    A business decision with a wick attached. No need to use your match, yet.

    From a business point of view, they had to go with opt out. Opt in would not have worked for them as they will be relying on the ‘uninformed user of all things free’ consuming what ever is put in front of them. This user may also be the one who is most likely to generate the revenue they seek.

    There is also the informed user who believes that it is OK for a free product provider to supplement revenue with advertising. It may sit well with them because of the manner in which Mozilla has implemented this business decision. Upfront and with user options. They trust Mozilla but that could change if they over reach. These users have a match at the ready.

    Mozilla has a match too. They could blow them self up – especially if they lied.

  26. Anonymous said on May 2, 2018 at 11:39 am

    I want to disable it in advance so tell me about setting name of about:config.

    1. Richard Allen said on May 2, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      You can disable Pocket from the settings on the New Tab page. If you want to you can verify and/or disable it from about:config.

      1. Richard Allen said on May 2, 2018 at 4:31 pm

        I’m currently using FFv60b16 and that is what I’m seeing.

    2. ULBoom said on May 2, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      extensions.pocket.enabled false

      that’s for 59. tbd in 60.

    3. exrelayman said on May 2, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      Very simple. Click for a new tab. Click the setting icon. Uncheck Pocket or any other option that has a check mark in the selection box which you would prefer not to have.

      I can’t get over how much people who are getting a service and not paying a dime for it get upset if the folks providing it try to be compensated enough for it to be worth their effort.

  27. Borgy said on May 2, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I assume there will be an about:config setting for it.
    I also assume there will be a lot of bitching about it as most users don’t bother to read tech blogs.
    At least they aren’t selling user info.(That we know of ; 0 )

  28. Richard Allen said on May 2, 2018 at 9:55 am

    I’ve personally never liked that Mozilla included Pocket as a Firefox addon. At least I can disable it and have actually never seen any Pocket content in my browser installs. Besides, I spend very little time, hardly ever any, on the New Tab page.

    I’m thinking that from a users perspective sponsored stories and recommended stories are basically the same thing, they both use your browsing history to determine what content to show you. Right? I’m not a fan of anyone recommending stories they think I should see based on what I’ve clicked on in the past. I guess it depends on the subject but I think it can also end up being the opposite of enlightening when different entities keep pushing the same thing, the same idea, over and over. Will opposing ideas and different concepts ever be seen or do recommended stories contribute to more tribalism? Don’t FB, YT and Twitter do enough of that?

    Anyway… I’ll pass.

  29. Robert Ab said on May 2, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Sponsored content is understandable move. But Mozilla should do this that way that this sponsored content will not use much CPU/GPU and RAM.

    1. Richard Allen said on May 2, 2018 at 10:19 am

      Good points. One other thought I have is bandwidth. Oh, and how often are the stories updated? Is it updated every time the New Tab page is opened? Every 5 minutes in the background? At the beginning of that browser session? I don’t know.

  30. Krixus said on May 2, 2018 at 9:13 am

    So… as i see here constantly the Firefox folks putting other browsers down…

    Allow me as big bug reporter on Vivaldi’s bugtracker to make the following comparison between browsers like Vivaldi, or Otter (with QT Webkit, not QT Webengine), or Centbrowser then with Mozilla:

    – developers listen to users, direct contact to them, they implement for every usergroup something and are not discriminating certain users

    – communities are understanding of other users needs and treat them with respect and have almost no trolls

    -developers pick a certain user group and stay loyal with them

    -money is not first (advertisement)

    -market share numbers are not of main importance, quality is more important than quantity

    I would say that in all that important points every small and medium sized browser project is in a clear advantage against Mozilla. Especially in user loyalty and not being number 1 focused for money and influence.

    Even the so much hated Pale Moon project wins out against Firefox.

    Who thinks that market share, money and mainstream is what matters most… go figure… it does not. It can, but it shouldn’t.


    Also, that the once so non-customizable Chromium can be enhanced with code to be almost as feature rich as XUL was… and Firefox going the other direction now… I am not sure if i would be so proud of this “enhancement” if i would be a theoretically user of Firefox.

    1. Richard Allen said on May 2, 2018 at 5:41 pm

      “So… as i see here constantly the Firefox folks putting other browsers down…”

      So… a Vivaldi fanboy feels the need to criticize a browser that they admit to not using. Why do I suspect a lack of objectivity?

      I like Vivaldi, but let’s be honest, like all browsers it has it’s own problems. It uses more memory than any of the other browsers that I have installed, not everyone is as fortunate as I am with 16GB of ram. It has a tonne of features that not everyone wants or uses, hence the higher memory use. Spends more time than it did in the past stuck on an older Chromium version, currently using v65 base. Just like other Chromium browsers it has lighter and thinner fonts which to my eyes is very obvious, especially when compared to FF side by side. Smooth scrolling, just like all other Chromium browsers is a joke compared to what FF and Waterfox offer. All that aside, I still like Vivaldi but not enough to make it my primary over FF.

      And Pale Moon is better? Seriously? You have it installed? Or is that another theoretical use case? As someone who used Pale Moon as their primary browser for years and has had it installed since it was released I’m not seeing how it wins out over Firefox. Pale Moon has spent more time as my primary than FF has and I’ve had FF installed since v3. Security and privacy wise Pale Moon is pretty darn good, one of the best, but so is my config of FF. Performance wise it’s in last place when I compare it to the other 6 browsers I have installed which is why I ended up moving back to FF as my primary over a year ago.

      “the once so non-customizable Chromium can be enhanced with code to be almost as feature rich as XUL was… and Firefox going the other direction now…”
      How many users can use css? I can and I do use css in Vivaldi but it can be extremely annoying when it has to be re-implemented after EVERY update. And I hate to burst any bubbles but css is working fine in Nightly. What browser is more customizable than FF? One that is not based on an old build.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for everyone using ‘their’ browser of choice. I’ve even gone to the dark side and installed and configured Chrome on quite a few computers. The Horror. :)

      1. John Fenderson said on May 2, 2018 at 8:58 pm

        @Richard Allen: “As someone who used Pale Moon as their primary browser for years and has had it installed since it was released I’m not seeing how it wins out over Firefox.”

        I don’t know about Pale Moon, but I do know that for my own personal use, Waterfox is better than the current Firefox.

      2. Krixus said on May 2, 2018 at 7:36 pm

        @Richard Allen

        And i guess.. some kind of another open visible and very serious issue is the following:

        Mozilla and the big aggressive arrogant part of their user base see themselves as progressive liberating social justice army – but i bet all my money that they have zero clue what that term really does mean at all.

      3. Krixus said on May 2, 2018 at 7:09 pm

        @Richard Allen You are aware that Firefox userchrome abilities will be removed in the future? So, this big amount of customization option will fall to the side and will be no more.

        And yes indeed – Almost every product which is NOT Firefox, Chrome itself or pure Chromium, IE, Safari, Edge or for example Opera new and Maxthon and a couple of others – are on the winning side – and that does indeed include also Pale Moon.

        Why? Because the moral aspect is missing – especially the human note – this affects the big ones. Browsers like pure Chrome/Chromium, IE, Edge or Safari never had that anyway in the first place.

        Opera and Mozilla have cast that aside.

        Mozilla news user base is arrogant, they treat people who are not going conform with minimalism like dirt or second class, people get dismissed and attacked.

        Pale Moon may also have it’s issue with parts of the user base, but Mozilla is much worse.

        And the major difference:

        Geeks are actually understanding and acknowledging others needs, but most simple users don’t. They are arrogant, they treat people who are not going conform with minimalism like dirt or second class… see? We are making a 360 degree turn back to the start.

        Hell, even Opera new has a more friendly community which is not as a whole THAT arrogant, selfish and loves to kick others just because of their opinion!

        And actually it is not alone the user base which is the issue with Mozilla, the developers are the same as well.

  31. Donn said on May 2, 2018 at 8:48 am

    Hasn’t they been doing this since FF57? Which is one of the reason I abandoned Firefox. I’ve always though Pocket was their way of getting into the selling ads business. Pocket analytics is a treasure trove of personal data that would be valuable to advertisers.

    Save yourself the trouble. Get Waterfox or Palemoon. Else, just stay with Chrome at this point. There’s not much of a different if Mozilla is going to copy Google their business model too.

    1. Krixus said on May 2, 2018 at 4:32 pm


      My opinion. Mozilla is a waste of time and effort. All Mozilla is good these days is playing copy-cat ripping Google Chrome.

      So does Opera.

      The biggest 2 losers of the browser market sadly. And i remember exactly the times when both have been the leaders and their superiority was not questionable.

      1. ShintoPlasm said on May 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm

        Au contraire, Opera – which is built on Blink and a major contributor to its code – actually tries hard to deviate from Chrome’s design and UI. Whilst there are always going to be questions about Opera’s current financiers, I like their efforts.

      2. Krixus said on May 2, 2018 at 8:00 pm

        @ShintoPlasm well, feature wise Opera new is still no match for Vivaldi. Actually what you wrote last is a very good point.

        With Chinese financiers.. i personally would not feel secure. If i would have to choose between Opera new or Yandex – i guess i would pick Yandex browser.

        Actually, i have a Yandex mail account. For one reason.. it is not Google :D

  32. Darren said on May 2, 2018 at 8:23 am

    “Sponsored Stories”. Let’s hope they’re good stories.

    1. Peter Scott said on May 4, 2018 at 1:09 am

      Hi Martin / all of,

      Never commented before but been reading your great site for a few years. As someone who got into Firefox customization just before Mozilla decided to get out, ghacks has been invaluable as a source of helpful, practical information.

      My background is I was a bare-metal 8bit games programmer in the 80s (I converted Sim City to the BBC Micro in 20K all done if anyone remembers such things) and then did NES and SNES games before running a UK progamming team for a big US company. I then went to work in TV, 3D CG animation and live interactive games I wrote for shows I was producing, a virtual presenter on an Amiga in 1993 even. And normal telly shows too. I now split my time between TV and movies, concepts across all media and devices and screens, and my main love, writing for TV, films, books, novels and interactive VR 360 augmented reality webisodic experiences. Well, not the last one, I made that up. I’ve made up worserer things and sat in rooms with venture capitalists pitching such crap,

      I’m no Mozilla fanboy, quite the opposite. I think they’ve taken wrong turns and annoyed and antagonised the people who loved their browser to bits. That’s not good – annoying nice people never is. I say this knowing I’m about to do the same.

      Cards on the table – I’m even less of a Google fan than a Mozilla-ite. Never downloaded Chrome personally, have used preinstalled versions and copies on other companies’ computers etc. Initially it was the let’s-eat-up-every-resource-ness I hated. I joined Facebook way back when it first started and you could tell it was just a massive spying operation masquerading as a way to keep in touch with boring family members, people you were at school with, huge corporations needily pleading for you to like or ‘friend’ their products as if they were people and not, say, toilet roll or lip salve. I changed every one of my favourite things to a slightly misspelt name, confusing the Zuckomatic algo-got-no-rhythm entirely. When I clicked the like button hundreds of times on any and all posts about soil, it gave up one me. Just as I gave up on it.

      Anyhoo, to teach myself CSS I thought, I know, I’ll customize Firefox as it’s already there. It seemed to be possible and ediitng an existing program seemed logically to be easier than creating something from scratch. Er, um, not really, but I persisted, found nice sites like this, bashed myself on the head a lot and still marvel at writing the phrase color: black and not six hex codes to make something coloured black on the screen. (Note to Brits: get ready to spell color in this way soon, if it’s a program instruction for CSS then the ‘u’ we put in it for some reason is doomed)

      My version of Firefox has been customized in any and every way and just as I got it right – in my eyes anyway – I read it would soon not be possible. D-to-the-apostrophe-thru-the-oh-end-on-the-aitch. Cue Quantu, byebye extensions and lovely minimal yet animated clean-plain UI.

      But my hastily-hacked-together-from-Stylish-and-everything-else userchrome and usercontent files worked fine. And Quantum / Photon / Rust / Webrender / KitchenSink etc, despite the teething pains completely rewriting code will always generate, is (a) faster, (ii) more stable (3) Just A Good Thing all round.

      I’ve looked at WalterFox, Oprah, Vulva and MalePoon – note I may have got their names wrong as they were quite obviously, er, made by gentlemen and some ladies, but we should be honest and say mainly lone gentlemen in elasticated pants at three in the morning. Not, say, a huge team of youing, woke Silicon Valley software engineers in a buiiding so shiny and glassy they keep walking into the walls and getting concussion.

      Here’s my view of the browser thing. You know them people who drive vintage cars, wearing antique clothing, playing actual olde-worlde records on phonograph machines, and using an Aga-style wood burner to make their dinners? They all do it for good reasons, be it aesthetical, principle or retrospective-al. And good luck to them, it’s their free choice.

      But when they yap on about how good these choices are, well… sigh, erm, no they’re not. They may be ‘sick’, cool or ironic, but c’mon, get real.

      That slow, noisy, ill-equipped old car is many times more polluting and dangerous to both occupants and pedestrians than a new car. It’ll use vastly more fuel and need far more maintenance than a boring indentikit modern car. And the record playing on a top-end system will have a much higher frequency width and purity… all for nowt as the more-than-likely older person, nearly as old as I am for example, hears a narrower band of sound than a 20 year old. And the media cost far more, are totally unportable, never mind inconvenient (playlists? downloads? oh no. Nice cover art though). And I don’t think any Michelin-starred chef in a world-class foodery would use an Aga, just as a normal person working all hours and wanting convenience and an easy life wouldn’t bother with the hours of kerfuffle just to heat a potato for lunch.

      And Waterwings, Opie, PaleRider and Volvo are the browser equivalents of Agas, the MG roadster and in that they’re lovely, and it’s nice they exist/existed, but in a market where they’re nought-point-nought-something of total users, it’s incredibly unlikely they’ll be relevant / innovative / competent for the other near-100% of users.

      Note no-one ever buys an ancient washing machine or a VHS recorder or a huge antique CRT TV, it’s only certain things that seem trendy in a retro form. But trendy means jolly nice playthings for the wealthy to indulge in every so often. Not as your major method of viewing the t’internet. I’ve still got Netscape on a floppy if you want the real, pure authentic online experience from the early 90s. You won’t. One sight of a site like Geocities or Myspace and you’d run a mile.

      These browsers are, sorry to say, irrelevant. No-one will probably hack them, or work out how to advertise in them, as they have such a tiny number of users – each being an expert programmer so they’ll ignore all attempts and kick up a fuss at the slightest whiff of a potential business model. It’d be great if Waterygrave or Vivagogo or Moon’s-a-Balloon had brand new innovate features, cracking UI and lightning speed, but even if they did – and I’ve tried ’em all, they haven’t – it wouldn’t matter.

      If you want a future that isn’t all Google & Chrome dominating computers / Android, Safari on iPhone and Mac, and Edge on Microsoft, er, Surface, that newer Surface with carpets on it and the scifi drawing board computer thing with the special rotatey knob out of The Future, then Mozilla and Firefox are your last and only hope of having any clout.

      As a man who’s hair was always bad and left my head in protest at the product I put on it way before ‘product’ was the word used, I’m allowed to say – it’s like watching a bunch of bald blokes fighting over a comb. Interesting sometimes, funny others, but ultimately futile.

      There. I hope I have annoyed everyone equally. I’ll get back to writing my new app, Britify, that changes all spelling and references online to those a British person would use, this making the web 32.6% better to anyone with a tinge of the Albion about them.


      1. John Fenderson said on May 4, 2018 at 6:21 pm

        @Peter Scott: “then Mozilla and Firefox are your last and only hope of having any clout.”

        As a Waterfox user, what you are saying here is that I should be using a browser that is inferior in terms of meeting my needs because that’s best for society at large?

        I reject that. All that will do is make my use a browser that is inferior to me.

      2. Lord Lestat said on May 6, 2018 at 3:07 pm

        @John Fenderson Fully agreeing.with that statement of yours :)

      3. Farid Le Fleur said on May 4, 2018 at 12:43 pm

        @Peter Scott Also, many people do not love the new soul-less attitude of Mozilla.

        Mozilla is today almost as equal as bad like Google, Microsoft or Apple. While it is logically for Google, Microsoft or Apple – as their vision, goals and morals do suck heavily, there was no good reason for Mozilla to lower themselves to the overall standard of the big corporations. But Mozilla has decided to do that anyway. And with that they have became no better or worse as the competition they have tried to match, they just got even with them and their rather low standard.

        And low standards are low standards, no matter from which point of the angle you look at it, and just Mozilla calls themselves still “Open Source” – is still not enough to turn the tides again to their favor.

      4. Farid Le Fleur said on May 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm

        @Peter Scott Quite a lot words to spread a pure Pro-Mozilla and Pro-Firefox worship-opinion. Underlying meaning of the post: Browsers which are not mainstream (and features which are non-mainstream) are bad.

        But you now, there is something called choice, and many people choose not to use Firefox for their own very good reason. Today we are living in a world which is only dominated by Google or Google Chrome lookalikes and “workalikes” – if we take a look at the big browsers. Perhaps something like Vivaldi or Opera is still Google Chrome under the hood, but the reason why people still decide to use browser like that is because they have features which the mainstream does not have.

        Same reason they use browsers like Cyberfox, Falkon, Otter-Browser with the rebooted qt-webkit or Pale Moon or Waterfox. If something has the features one wants, what for a kind of engine is behind is in such a case of more minor importance, if someone decides to go “features first”.

  33. insanelyapple said on May 2, 2018 at 8:23 am

    > Sponsored stories are different from recommended stories

    No, there’s no difference because neither should land in the web browser in first place. Users around the world are installing web browsers in order to see sites and content they want, not one forced upon them under dodgy terms by companies or corporations.

    Let’s have a guess – what’s coming next? Obviously including of this sponsored stories “feature” in Firefox in other language versions is the next move. Then probably comes separating it from Pocket and making an forced component and then, finally, releasing Firefox Premium that ultimately will be the Mozila’s browser that “cares about your privacy” for a small price – by not including sponsored content, telemetry or all sort of things that violate user privacy.

    1. Farmers said on May 3, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      You obviously didn’t read the article. Either that, or you’re simply ignoring the fact (mentioned in the article) that this new feature can be very easily turned off – it’s a simple tickbox, do you want this or not.

      1. Krixus said on May 3, 2018 at 7:51 pm

        @Farmers How about that features should not be there at all or it should not only be able to shut it off but to uninstall it directly?

        That would have been the more legit way to handle this. This would have been what a true Open Source developer would have done, who values both the technological aspect and the philosophical aspect of Open Source.

        But that Mozilla is honoring both aspect points….. I rather would say no.

        Everything else is an “accept it that it is there, you may deactivate it but you are not able to fully control it” cat-and-mouse game.

        What that means: “Our browser, our way” – and that is not what the user says, that is what Mozilla says.

    2. WorknMan said on May 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      > releasing Firefox Premium that ultimately will be the Mozila’s browser that “cares about your privacy” for a small price

      Honestly, I wish they’d just do that now. I understand that developers need to eat, and I’m happy to pay a fee in order to turn off all the BS. Unfortunately, rent doesn’t pay for itself, so if you want them to work on the browser full-time, the money has to come from SOMEWHERE.

      1. John Fenderson said on May 2, 2018 at 9:21 pm

        Right now, you can turn off everything that sends data back to Mozilla, including everything Pocket-related. So, you can have you wish at this moment: turn it all off, and send a donation to Mozilla.

    3. Krixus said on May 2, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      @insanelyapple That is what you can expect from Mozilla. They have lost sadly a lot of class over time.

      Luckily there are the Vivaldi developers to fill the place of Mozilla’s long forgotten past – New Firefox is nothing more than a bare-bone-skeleton without style and even lesser substance.

      And for that i am so very much grateful towards the Vivaldi folks. As they are real developers and not trend-hoppers like Mozilla’s development team.

    4. Richard Allen said on May 2, 2018 at 10:11 am

      Funny that you say that because I am actually right this moment using the free version of Firefox Premium with no sponsored or recommended content and the telemetry from my install is very insignificant, mostly just when manually checking for browser and addon updates. All I need is a smallish one-time payment and I can certainly hook you up! LoL

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