Mozilla recommends a Firefox extensions that appears to be a copycat

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 25, 2019

Mozilla maintains a list of recommended extensions for the Firefox web browser that it highlights on the official Mozilla AMO add-ons website and also in Firefox in various ways.

The system used to select these changed recently from featuring extensions on Mozilla AMO to a stricter system. The new system accepts extensions only if they meet requirements; some of these are self-explanatory, e.g. that extensions need to be safe, but some are not.

One of the main differences to regular extensions offered on Mozilla AMO is that recommended extensions are reviewed manually each time a new version is uploaded to Mozilla's site (and initially as well). Other extensions are reviewed after the fact only, if at all.

adblocker ultimate recommend

One of the recommended extensions, AdBlocker Ultimate, appears to be a copycat extension. Twitter user Rémi B. published the following message on Twitter today:

Why is @firefox recommending an extension which seems to be a copy-pasting from another extension and potentially in copyright infringement? @AdBlockUltimate claims to be open-source and GPLv3 so I installed and checked the sources using the debugger.

The code of the extension is very similar to AdGuard, a very popular content blocking solution. Rémi found mentions of AdGuard throughout the code of AdBlock Ultimate that suggest that code was copied from AdGuard. The AdBlock Ultimate extension has more users than Adguard currently; Adguard has about 322k users, AdBlocker Ultimate 418K.

Raymond Hill, creator of uBlock Origin and uMatrix, reported the AdBlock Ultimate extension in 2017 but nothing came out of it. In the report, he stated that the "extension is essentially a copy of Adguard extension for the core code, and essentially a copy of ABP for the user interface aspect", and that he thought that Firefox users donating to extension developers would surely want to donate to the original developers.

One of the main objections is that the extension is recommended by Mozilla (AdGuard is not). It seems like a strange choice considering that the recommended extension appears to use AdGuard code.

Mozilla employee Gian-Carlo Pascutto responded to the thread stating that the organization is looking into it. The response time was very quick this time.  One possible outcome of the "looking into it" could be that Mozilla removes the recommendation.

The situation resembles another blunder by Mozilla that happened in 2018. The organization recommended a privacy extension back then in a blog post on the official Firefox blog that had a "phone-home" feature built-into the extension.

Now You: What is your take on all this?

Mozilla recommends a Firefox extensions that appears to be a copycat
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Mozilla recommends a Firefox extensions that appears to be a copycat
One of the recommended extensions for the Firefox web browser may turn out to be a copycat extension; the original is not recommended by Mozilla.
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  1. Elena Ruby said on December 11, 2021 at 8:49 am

    mozilla have not its own extension..??

  2. Anonymous said on August 3, 2019 at 10:18 am

    As at 03 Aug, the copycat being recommended again….

  3. Yuliya said on July 30, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    I post strong opinions about Firefox which are mostly fabrications to rile up strangers online but in reality I have not come across the motivation to clean my keyboard of encrusted cheeto dust and empty out the piss jugs that block the pathway to the bathroom. My bed covers 2/3 of my bed room from which I spent a considerable amount of my life. I think Mozilla is owned by reptile people who are owned by the democrats. I am lonely, please respond.

    1. Comrade said on July 31, 2019 at 11:47 am

      Whoa, impersonating other users to post petty comments, how grand.

  4. Benjamin said on July 26, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    …as liberal markets seem to play such a large role in everything, why not publish a version at a cost, donation, free giving how ever you want to name this and a free version as usual… either we pay for the work of others in one way or another ( i donate for many causes), keep nasty sponsors out or we rely on the free work of others…

  5. Yuliya said on July 26, 2019 at 9:02 am

    So having trash recommended straight throughout the UI is a mozillian’s idea of a privacy oriented browser? lmao

  6. Antonia said on July 26, 2019 at 7:45 am

    I tried to get rid of this annoying new feature of FF 68, and configured this entry in my user.js
    “ false”.
    But it does not work! The “Recommended Extensions” are still there.
    Anyone who knows a solution ?

    1. TelV said on July 27, 2019 at 5:57 pm


      In the location bar at the top type: “about:profiles” (without quotes) and hit Enter.

      Next, in the profile which is in use you’ll see Root Folder which the location of where that can be found. At the end of that you’ll see a button called “Open Folder”. Click that which will open it in Windows.

      Next open the “extensions” folder in the list. All the addons including the one you don’t want can been seen in there. Leave that open and then go back to the About Profiles page,

      At the top of that page click the “Create new profile” button. Follow the prompts but give your new profile a distinctive name so that you’ll recognize it a a later date.

      All you need to do afterwards is to load your new profile and then drag and drop the addons you want to keep into that. To identify them, type: “about:support” (without quotes) in the location bar and hit Enter.

      Scroll down to “Extensions” and you’ll see a list of them with their identifying info on the right hand side.

      Your old profile (the one you’re using now) will remain on the machine until you delete it so you’re not risking anything by creating a new one. I have 4 profiles on my own system.

      To switch to using the new profile after you’ve installed everything just click the button called “Set as default profile”.

      If there’s anything you don’t understand just holla!

      1. Antonia said on July 28, 2019 at 9:19 am

        @TelV: thanks for all your effort in order to help me :-))
        But I don’t wanna risk to kill my profile.
        BTW: when I click on the link “Open Folder” WinAMP opens and starts playing music!! Hahaha!! :-)
        Have a nice day!

      2. TelV said on July 28, 2019 at 4:37 pm

        Hi Antonia,

        There’s absolutely no risk I assure you, but I note that SpywareFan also provided a solution for you.

        On the subject of Winamp opening when you click the Open Folder button that sounds like a file association issue. You can check that by doing the following.

        Open Windows Control Panel and go to “Default Programs”. In the menu which opens click “Set your default programs”.

        In the following menu find Winamp in the left hand list and click it to highlight it. Click the second menu option called “Choose defaults for this program” in the right hand panel at the bottom which appears when you highlight a program. Scroll through the list and check to see if the action to open Winamp is checkmarked for Open Folder.

        If it isn’t repeat, but choose Firefox instead and see whether Winamp is set as an option to open a folder.

        Remove the checkmark from the appropriate option accordingly and then click Save changes.

    2. Malte said on July 26, 2019 at 11:13 am

      In order to disable the addon recommendations in Firefox you have to go into the about:config and set these two parameters to “false” :

    3. SpywareFan said on July 26, 2019 at 9:06 am

      You should try setting “extensions.htmlaboutaddons.recommendations.enabled” to false, “extensions.getAddons.discovery.api_url” to empty and “extensions.getAddons.showPane” to false if you want to remove the useless Get Addons page.
      You can also install Sören’s “Enterprise Policy Generator” or use admin templates to lock other important settings.
      Also take a look at new entries in , the MozCorp added new “incoming” entries.

      1. Antonia said on July 26, 2019 at 12:51 pm

        @SpywareFan : that did it! THANK YOU so much!! :-)

    4. Yuliya said on July 26, 2019 at 8:56 am

      kill all the strings containing an address in them, they are all used to distribute mozilla branded malware. some of them are hardcoded, such as the browser update one, so that will still misbehave, because firefox nowadays cannot be trusted anymore.

      backup your profile before doing this, you might not like how firefox behaves afterwards.

      1. Antonia said on July 26, 2019 at 12:47 pm

        @Yuliya : thanks for this hint; but there are soooo many entries, I didn’t do that

  7. Anonymous said on July 26, 2019 at 2:27 am
    1. TelV said on July 27, 2019 at 5:30 pm


      I did the same thing and note that the addon is available on the Microsoft store as an adblocker for Edge:

      Maybe that’s why Moz recommended it on AMO.

      Zoominfo states that Secure Download Ltd is a, quote: “an IT company, specialized in website development and online advertising.”

      Maybe that’s why there are ads popping up from time to time.

      Other than that here’s LinkedIn’s profile of the company owner:

      I’m not registered on LinkedIn so can’t access the additional info which available on this individual, but if anyone reading this article is, maybe you can add that here.

  8. Bombadil said on July 26, 2019 at 12:37 am

    I guess that explains a lot.

    I’ve also noticed reviewers seem to give more importance to things like count of users and rating than functionality when picking recommendations, which kinda defeats the purpose (I think?), since even the most ignorant of users are indirectly affecting their decisions (making the recommendations kind of meaningless in turn). AMO already has functionality for searching by popularity and such, and popular add-ons are obviously easier to find regardless of that, so what’s the point?

    One clear example: Smart HTTPS is recommended, whereas HTTPZ, which is a newer and (in my *informed* opinion) superior alternative, is not. And that’s just the most recent example I happened to notice; I’m sure there are many others.

  9. Dilly Dilly said on July 26, 2019 at 12:13 am

    I’m gonna go conspiratorial on this one. mozilla wouldn’t recommend these if they weren’t getting something in return; money, data collection or both… time will tell.

  10. AnonymousReviewer said on July 25, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    I can tell you why stuff like that happens. There are very few competent reviewers on AMO and they only review stuff, that is flagged to be deeply reviewed, a so-called “admin review”. Other reviews are done by “free reviewers”, not employed by Mozilla., they can basically do what they want.

    While those competent ones know what they are technically doing, they became mostly ignorant morons back then when it came to remove add-ons, whose main goal is to support fake news, hate speech and deformation of people, countries and nationalities (“as long as the mainstream shares the same opinion” it was fine by them [Yes, I got such and answer from an AMO admin back then!]).

    I was a reviewer on AMO until I was kicked out mainly for reporting such violations. I reported add-ons multiple times with proof, even with quoting AMO rules, rules one easily could call Mozilla laws, but I was ignored.

    1. Anonymous said on July 26, 2019 at 5:27 am

      In recent years, the quality of reviewer has been decreased a lot which cause extensions updates delayed very long. That’s why Mozilla now just use automated review system. Anything that passed the system check can go online within minute..! I used to wait for one month in the review queue, I think this is an improvement.

  11. Tom Hawack said on July 25, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    Look at the traffic rather than at the traffic lights before crossing a road, and look at the add-on rather than its “recommended” status especially when it appears to be baloney.

    Personally I dislike whatever recommendations, can’t stand “we’ve chosen for you”, “you may/will like” this or that. Facts only and when it comes to add-ons, as well as any application/software, never follow the likes, the masses, the scores (more and more frequently without a comment explaining it) but search by yourself, exercise at least a quick investigation …

    Mozilla Recommendations … haha what a joke, and I’m not bouncing on this story : I had written it here on Ghacks when the Mozilla’s Recomendation fantasy was first announced, that it was IMO hollow as an empty shell.

    I spend a lot of time discovering new add-ons, following those I know, quite a few running and one thing is sure : several great extensions get no recommendation whilst lesser great ones do. Now it appears copycat gets glorified… bravo Mozilla, really bravo, you surpassed yourself this time. We’ve been telling you for years now (we=users) to forget gadgets, to think twice before you innovate, to consider feedback but no, you just carry on, blindly. Why don’t you just start being smart and forget reminding us your honesty. Intelligence is far more palpable than morality.

    1. Rannny said on July 26, 2019 at 2:25 am

      @ Tom Hawack
      “…following those I know, quite a few running…”, like?

      1. Tom Hawack said on July 26, 2019 at 11:01 am

        @Ranny, shows at this time 47 Firefox extensions running, the 7 disabled ones are only those of Firefox search built-in as system extensions (since FF68) which don’t appear in about:addons but only in about:support and disabled via CCleaner 5.40.6411 given I use neither of them but mine only.

        I do emphasize on “at this time” because extensions here, for some, come and go.

    2. 99 said on July 25, 2019 at 10:42 pm

      >>> exercise at least a quick investigation …

      … at ‘reddit/firefox’ and then we lay down ourselves in the shade and ask Mozilla for macaroni, melons and figs, for musical throats, classic bodies and a comfortable religion!

    3. Tom Hawack said on July 25, 2019 at 9:45 pm

      I’ve just added the following style to Stylus Firefox extension :

      Domain =
      .RecommendedBadge {display:none !important;}

      At least I won’t have the ‘Recommended’ trash on the screen anymore.

  12. ShintoPlasm said on July 25, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    Only uBO and AdGuard are worth considering. All the rest are utter rubbish.

    1. owl said on July 27, 2019 at 3:45 am

      Only uBO and AdGuard are worth considering.
      All the rest are utter rubbish.

      That’s too much to say!
      There are individual differences between “Preference” and “Values”, and there are also differences in usage and system configuration depending on the purpose. (not a Superiority but a difference in Preference)

      Indeed, uBO and AdGuard are outstanding.
      However, if you use the Blocker, it will be distinctive in the fingerprint. Therefore, Tor Browser is limited to “No Script” and “HTTPS Everywhere”.
      I support “Tor Browser” idea (do not use Blocker) and combine NoScript, HTTPS Everywhere, PrivacyBadger, Chameleon, Decentraleyes.

      In addition, I have installed a number of extensions (Addon).
      Firefox Lightbeam
      Terms of Service; Didn’t Read
      Cookie AutoDelete
      Temporary Containers
      Speed Dial [FVD] New Tab Page, 3D Start Page, Sync、
      Reader View
      Forecastfox (fix version)
      Scroll To Top
      Dark Background and Light Text
      Tree Style Tab
      Tab counter
      To Google Translate
      word count
      The existence of various and rich extensions is a wonderful asset (treasure) of “AMO”. The question is whether they can be trusted.

  13. Anonymous said on July 25, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    > “This extension is essentially a copy of Adguard extension for the core code, and essentially a copy of ABP for the user interface aspect.

    Whatever the legal aspect with regard to the GPL license, I find that allowing such scammy extension on AMO to be detrimental to developers who do the actual genuine work, and detrimental to AMO by allowing in its repo such parasitical extensions with no actual added value versus the original (actually the opposite given how limited the UI is versus that of Adguard)

    Surely users willing to donate to developers would be better served if they were not deceived into donating to scammers/opportunists.”

    Yes, this is one of the weaknesses of libre software : someone can easily scam by just selling/asking for donations for a verbatim copy of an originally gratis software maintained by someone else. It’s neither a violation of the GPL nor of AMO policies, and reporting it is therefore futile, unless it’s an attempt to change the AMO policies. I can understand that Raymond Hill attempts everything he can with this report given that he was himself burnt by a scammy fork of ublock origin. The libre philosophy assumed that not enough users would be uninformed enough to pay for what they can get for free, so that the benefit of allowing socially productive commercial reuse would always be larger than the nuisance of parasites. Once again the parasitism potential of capitalism was underestimated here. This is why there is a “proprietary” exception to libre software I have nothing against in some circumstances : not allowing commercial use of somebody else’s gratis work.

    About what Mozilla recommends : just don’t trust them. They have betrayed us enough.

    1. AnorKnee Merce said on July 27, 2019 at 7:27 am

      @ Anonymous

      Yes, agree. That’s why the free/libre Wine program to run Windows programs in Linux is hard to use but its non-free derivative, Crossover for Linux program from Codeweavers Inc, is easy to use and can run even the latest Windows programs.
      That’s also why there is no user-friendly GUI-based System Imaging program for Linux, like Macrium Reflect Free and Acronis True Image for Windows.

      IOW, some Linux software developers are afraid that their long and hard work in developing a free/libre open-source program will be easily copied and rebranded by others as their own.

      1. TomHa said on July 29, 2019 at 5:42 am

        @ AnorKnee Merce
        You agree on what???? Your wine/crossover example is so wrong and disgusting in an article about parasites and copycats who try to make a buck from other people’s work on free/libre software. CodeWeavers is the major donator of the Wine project and their developers make up for 2/3 of the Wine commits. Even mentioning them in this article about free/libre software copycats is disgusting.

  14. Rabbah said on July 25, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Always go to the publisher’s official web page first and seek the AMO web address on it. (Then bookmark it if necessary)

    For example, first, go to uBlock Origin’s Github page then find AMO web address of it.

  15. ULBoom said on July 25, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    I use AdGuard. I’ll mention this in their forum.

    1. sam said on July 25, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      Please, thanks. I use AdGuard too.

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