Firefox 63 with improved content blocking - gHacks Tech News

Firefox 63 with improved content blocking

Mozilla plans to integrate a new content blocking mode in Firefox 63 that will replace tracking protection as the native option in the browser to block certain content automatically. Tracking Protection won't go away, however, as it makes up a part of the new content blocking functionality.

Mozilla launched Tracking Protection in 2014 in Firefox Nightly for the desktop and for Android. The feature was enabled only in private browsing mode when it was launched in Firefox 42 Stable; it took Mozilla more than two years to change the feature so that users could enable Tracking Protection always and not only in private browsing mode.

The organization revealed plans to improve tracking protection and to extend the functionality in mid 2018.

Starting with Firefox 63, out October 23, 2018, if the schedule holds, Firefox will include native content blocking functionality that extends the current Tracking Protection functionality of the browser.

firefox 63 new content blocking

Firefox users get a new Content Blocking option right in the main browser menu and also in the site information panel.

It takes two clicks to enable or disable Content Blocking in Firefox. A click on the site information icon displays the new options as well.

There it is possible to disable the blocking for individual sites if blocking is enabled globally, and to manage the available blocking options.

Firefox users may also open the privacy preferences to manage content blocking from there.

firefox content blocking

Here it is possible to turn the feature on or off, and to reset it to the default. More important than that are options to manage individual content blocking options and manage exceptions.

While Firefox users do get tracking protection baked into the new content blocking functionality, they will also get access to a new option to block slow loading content independently from blocking trackers.

Firefox users may manage exceptions for the feature and change block lists as well. It is clear from the description that Firefox's new content blocking functionality won't integrate full ad-blocking into the browser just yet. While I think that this is a big oversight as it could attract users who use other browsers as their primary, it is still an option and could be added at a later point in time.

Improved content blocking is not the only feature related to user privacy that Mozilla is working on currently. The organization plans to run experiments to restrict or even remove third-party tracker access to cookies to limit tracking capabilities.

Closing Words

With Google adding basic ad-blocking capabilities into Chrome and some other companies, Opera and Microsoft for example, doing the same, it is a good sign that Mozilla will push Firefox's capabilities in this regard as well.

Now You: what would you like to see integrated in Firefox? (via Sören)

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Firefox 63 with improved content blocking
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Firefox 63 with improved content blocking
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Mozilla plans to integrate a new content blocking mode in Firefox 63 that will replace tracking protection as the native option in the browser to block certain content automatically.
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Comments

  1. pat said on July 23, 2018 at 7:15 am
    Reply

    I wish that one day, developers (and webmasters) will come to understand that clicking, clicking, clicking, clicking to open, closing, checking open, clicking, checking off clicking open, closing etc, is tedious, boring, tiring or even stupid!
    There are enough adblockers and extensions available, for novices or experts, the browser of tomorrow will have to allow the user to have from a resizable small side bar of his preferred extensions.
    Yes, I would like one day to have uBlock, uMatrix, NoScript, Scriptsafe or other, available and accessible all the time, to be able to configure my extensions, my navigation and my browser quickly without having to always click, open, click, check close click open, click, close click click click click!!!!! I’m sick of this!
    There is enough space on a wide screen to integrate direct access to one or more extensions.
    And I may have a checkbox on the toolbar to quickly decide to empty or not my browser when I close it. Custom direct access control is the future.

  2. Paul(us) said on July 23, 2018 at 11:30 am
    Reply

    Looks quite nice and ferry promising main only hope (or wish) is that this new function will not conflict with web extensions like uBlock, UMatrix, Adblock, NoScript,, etc. because it’s like Martin wrought, here above there not covering those WebExentsions functionalities totally.
    Did you Martin or anybody else already noticed any confliction at all and also maybe that will be ferry difficult or impossible to tweak a specific (or more) web extension before Firefox 63 final will be released?

    1. Anonymous said on July 24, 2018 at 7:17 am
      Reply

      Most of this “Content Blocking” has already been in Firefox for a while (called “Tracking Protection”). And there have been no conflicts with that. I can’t imagine this new addition causing problems.

      I’m personally using Firefox Nightly (63) with NoScript with this Content Blocking enabled, and everything works as it always has.

      Finally, if there should be any conflicts, you could easily turn off Content Blocking.

  3. Richard Allen said on July 23, 2018 at 2:35 pm
    Reply

    I like what Mozilla is doing with Tracking Protection. I’ve been using it awhile and I’m glad to see progress being made.

    It’s been mentioned before but I would like to see the trackers divided up in categories. One category I would like to see is for social media. Right now if a website embeds a twitter post or video, Tracking Protection will block the image and/or video but not the text. So I will need to whitelist that site thereby giving up all of the protection available with FF Tracking Protection. I see the same thing with embedded posts from Instagram. That’s lame. I see it happen mostly on sports sites like Bleacher Report, MMA Fighting and some others. Being able to block some things while allowing others will be nice.

    Personally I don’t care if FF ever adds a specific ad blocking capability to it’s tracking protection. I would rather they didn’t to be honest or at the very least make sure it doesn’t interfere or conflict in any way with the holy grail of ad blockers aka uBO. As it is right now, Tracking Protection blocks 99.9% of ads without any element hiding rules of course but still, it works very well by itself and is light on resources. I really at this point just want to see tracking protection divided up into different lists.

    I’m not seeing any problems of any kind in Nightly with Tracking Protection, uBlock Origin, No-Script Suite Lite, and Privacy Possum working together.

  4. Just install uBlock Origin said on July 23, 2018 at 3:00 pm
    Reply

    WebRender+uBlock Origin+Decentraleyes+HTTPS Everywhere For The Win!

    1. Chris said on July 24, 2018 at 9:33 am
      Reply

      What is “webrender” in this context?

      1. Mythmon said on November 21, 2018 at 7:03 pm
        Reply

        WebRender is a new approach to drawing the contents of webpages to the screen. It came out of the Servo research process, and is slowly being integrated into Firefox proper.

        The traditional way of drawing webpages involves building up complex lists of elements and figuring out what can be re-used frame to frame. Drawing is traditionally a very slow process, so this makes sense in order to make a browser that stays smooth.

        Making these lists and updating them over time takes up some time consuming though. Sometimes there is nothing that be re-used, and the browser has to throw it all away and start from scratch anyways. This makes the traditional approach fast most of the time, but when it is slow it is very slow. It also means that the first few frames of the page being drawn will always be slow.

        WebRender takes a hint from the way that video games and other 3d applications work by saving nothing between frames, and making the entire drawing pipeline fast enough to do 60 times per second or more. It does this by using the GPU very cleverly. In practice this tends to make things a tiny bit slower, but much more consistent. There are also some cases where the traditional method completely doesn’t work and WebRender has no problem keeping up at all.

        In short, WebRender is a new way of drawing the contents of a web page to the screen that uses the GPU and the CPU together to make everything faster and smoother.

  5. manouche said on July 23, 2018 at 6:57 pm
    Reply

    “… what would you like to see integrated in Firefox?”

    Some nukes … to nuke their servers!

  6. WorknMan said on July 23, 2018 at 8:42 pm
    Reply

    Why don’t they put more site-specific controls there, like blocking javascript, auto-playing videos, etc?

  7. They are false said on July 23, 2018 at 11:48 pm
    Reply

    They are imitating what other do better.

    Mozilla is anti-privacy, Firefox does not let adblockers/Ublock work correctly because it prevents them from blocking background connections. They want their own “content” blocker to be in control of what is blocked…
    Mozilla and Google? Google is currently sodomizing Mozilla. What Mozilla announces is hypocrisy, Mozilla does not serve the user, they need the user serving them, their parasitic ideology.

    These new features have ONE purpose. These features are presented as being for the benefit of the user, but these things benefit Mozilla the most. Why they don’t fix their memory leaks?, not a driver problem. Why they don’t improve bookmarks?, Why they don’t fix Firefox inconsistencies? Because the company is wasting resources trying to make everything centralized towards them to make the user dependent. It favors the stupid, but not that who needs more control.

    1. user8173 said on July 24, 2018 at 3:29 pm
      Reply

      Within 2 years Mozilla will disappear from the scene as a major browser maker.

      The money they get from Google was always some kind of shush money. The money Google gives them is insane compared to the poor value Google gets. Nobody is getting that much money from google, just look at Operas numbers.

      To give everyone a comparison why Mozilla is acting so arrogant and disconnected from reality:

      Opera made $128.9 million in operating revenue in 2017, which led to a net income of only $6.1 million.

      Mozilla in contrast made $520.4 million in 2016, which led to a crazy high net income of $103.8 million.

      Google essentially eliminated their only competition with overpaying them. It created a mentality where nothing really matters, because money keeps flowing in, and the management was protected from their bad decisions. Mozilla wasn’t completely blind to the future, but the people who were aware left the company.

      When Mozilla saw that they reached a dead end with focusing on Desktop, they tried to get into mobile, but unfortunately they had already helped pave the way for Google to dominate everything. (Not that they couldve prevented it).

      Opera, free from the Google influence, went another route, focusing on the emerging mobile markets without reinventing the wheel. They have 350 million users now, way more than Firefox. Somehow this is not being reflected by the statistics. The developing countries are underrepresented there.

      Young people are already brought up within an enclosed App-Ecosystem were browsers do not matter. The “developing countries” use Opera and UC. The rich use Safari. The majority of Desktop Users is migrating to Chrome.

      Mozilla doesn’t really know what to do, Pocket won’t go anywhere. When Google stops giving them money they will implode. They will continue to profit from their position for another couple of years though, especially because they kind of tricked Yahoo out of hundreds of millions.

      Now this brings me to the ad-blocking topic. The dependence on Google stops Mozilla from being able to explore an innovative way of dealing with Ads. So they kind of ignored it. They ignored tracking as long as they could too.

      Now that everyone is screaming about tracking, they will at least block the very worst offenders by the end of the year.

      Ironically the train has already left the station. When Mozilla is finished with their absurdely slow process of change and finally offers tracking protection by default, the web will already be ad- and tracking free.

      Despite this we will probably see an official blog post in 2020 about how Mozilla singlehandedly rescued the internet.

  8. Anonymous said on July 24, 2018 at 7:04 am
    Reply

    > it took Mozilla more than two years to change the feature so that users could enable Tracking Protection always and not only in private browsing mode.

    It didn’t “take” them this long, you could even enable it for normal browsing mode via an about:config-flag right from the start.
    Instead, it was politics why they kept it like that for so long.

    They always have to keep the balance between pleasing users and pleasing webpage owners. There was already a major outcry from webpage owners when Mozilla included the Private-Browsing-only Tracking Protection.
    A whole new industry of non-tracking ads formed as a result of that decision, because without these non-tracking ads, webpages that you generally only visit in Private Browsing mode would make no revenue off of Firefox users anymore.

    Nowadays, after Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica fuckup and after the GDPR hitting mainstream, users are much more aware that there’s such a thing as privacy, which they could be violated in. So, it’s much more valuable for pleasing users to have privacy prominently there.
    Still pisses off webpage owners, but as you wrote, other browsers are nowadays also pissing off webpage owners, so it doesn’t make sense for webpage owners to exclusively drop Firefox support, meaning Mozilla can afford to piss off webpage owners here.

    Including an ad blocker that is enabled by default, I don’t think is a smart idea. At that point, you’re completely taking away revenue from webpage owners, unless the webpage sells you things, or is supported by donations. Without any revenue, they have not much reason to support Firefox properly.

    It also doesn’t send the right incentives. Annoying ads are annoying, probably result in people buying useless crap that they don’t need, but other than that are not an actual problem. Tracking on the other hand enables large-scale surveillance, identity theft and can help with other crimes (e.g. the burglar knows when you’re not at home or what things you buy), and also carries all kinds of psychological implications, from self-censoring to probably just general mental health issues, akin to what happens with people in a Panopticon.
    So, tracking is what Mozilla primarily wants to get rid of. And for that, it rather makes sense to nudge the industry in the right direction rather than killing it off, or killing Firefox off by having no webpage owners support it anymore.

    1. John Fenderson said on July 24, 2018 at 6:05 pm
      Reply

      “Still pisses off webpage owners”

      Website operators who are angry that they have a more difficult time spying on their users are terrible website operators. I’m pleased at their rage.

  9. Chris said on July 24, 2018 at 9:31 am
    Reply

    What content is Content Blocking blocking?

  10. Anonymous said on July 24, 2018 at 10:51 am
    Reply

    Lost all respect for Mozilla and Firefox. Where browsers like Brave and Vivaldi progresses with game changing features, Firefox regresses with useless features like this and deprecate actually the useful ones (e.g xul extension support). No one will use Firefox’s inbuilt content blocker where superior extension ( ublock, umatrix) already exists.

  11. Jen said on September 1, 2018 at 5:54 am
    Reply

    I’m thinking of moving to Brave. Any feedback on Brave?

  12. Jen said on September 1, 2018 at 6:07 am
    Reply

    Mozilla already is censoring or wants to censor information at the browser level !!!!
    Katharina Borchert, Mozilla’s chief innovation officer said: For the web to be a healthy place for users, it can’t be polluted by misinformation. (!!)

    “If we don’t manage to lessen the mental burden on people constantly worrying if information is trustworthy, it lessens the value of the open web for everyone who participates, and poses a lot of problems downstream,” Katharina Borchert (Mozilla) said.

    https://www.businessinsider.com.au/mozilla-new-initiative-counter-fake-news-2017-8?r=US&IR=T

    Personally, I know that part of being human is learning to evaluate for myself what information I will and will not trust. I don’t need Mozilla Firefox or anyone else to shield me from information when I’m researching. Their role is to provide the search results, not censor them in an attempt to shape my opinions. I am OUTRAGED by Mozilla. I hope Brave browser is an effective alternative.

  13. Anonymous said on November 1, 2018 at 3:06 pm
    Reply

    I got on board with Mozilla Firefox in the early days but with “improvements” like this I am now ready to change to a different web browser. It’s now not a matter of when but rather which one.

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