How to disable Sponsored Top Sites in the Firefox web browser - gHacks Tech News

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How to disable Sponsored Top Sites in the Firefox web browser

Some Firefox users noticed over the weekend that the browser listed "sponsored" links in the browser's address bar and on the New Tab page. The links, clearly marked as sponsored by Mozilla, are displayed to a small group of users as part of an experiment.

Word got out about Sponsored Top Sites in October when a bug on Mozilla's official bug tracking website [email protected] confirmed plans to add a toggle to disable the functionality to the Firefox web browser.

The advertisement appears to have been introduced in Firefox 83, released earlier this week to the Stable channel.

If Sponsored Top Sites sounds like something that you have heard before, you are not mistaken. Mozilla announced in 2014 that it would integrate Sponsored Tiles on the browser's new tab page; the feature was pulled from Firefox at the end of 2015 and Mozilla decided to "focus on content discovery" instead back then.

Now, five years later, the feature makes a return under a slightly different name. Sponsored Top Sites may be displayed to Firefox users and Mozilla earns money from user clicks on these links.

Mozilla published a support page that provides additional details on the implementation and its advertising partners. According to the information published on the page, Mozilla is working with adMarketplace and only accepts advertising partners that meet the organization's privacy standards.

Anonymized technical data is sent through a Mozilla-owned proxy service before it is send to the sponsoring partner.

When you click on a sponsored tile, Firefox sends anonymized technical data to our partner through a Mozilla-owned proxy service. This data does not include any personally identifying information and is only shared when you click on a Sponsored Top Site.

How to disable Sponsored Top Sites in Firefox

Mozilla added options to disable Sponsored Top Sites to Firefox's user interface.

Note that the sponsored links displayed in the address bar are the same that you see on the New Tab Page.

Firefox users who see these right now may remove individual top sites in the following way.

  1. Hover over the sponsored entry on the New Tab Page.
  2. Open the menu with a click on the three dots.
  3. Select Dismiss.

It is furthermore possible to disable the feature entirely.

firefox sponsored top sites

  1. Select Menu > Options.
  2. Switch to the Home Panel.
  3. Under Firefox Home Content, locate Top Sites.
  4. Uncheck Sponsored Top Sites.

The change removes sponsored sites from the New Tab page of the browser and also from the address bar.

firefox sponsored top sites

Firefox users who prefer to make the change directly may also modify the following preference, e.g. on about:config.

  • browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.showSponsoredTopSites

This needs to be set to FALSE to disable Sponsored Top Sites.

Summary
How to disable Sponsored Top Sites in the Firefox web browser
Article Name
How to disable Sponsored Top Sites in the Firefox web browser
Description
Find out how to disable Sponsored Top Sites in the Firefox browser. These are labeled as "sponsored" on the New Tab Page and address bar of Firefox.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Iron Heart said on November 22, 2020 at 8:10 am
    Reply

    Guys, just look at the screenshot of the settings page alone: Sponsored Top Sites, Pocket Sponsored Stories, Snippets (Updates from Mozilla and Firefox)…

    The Firefox fans around here like to bash Brave for having opt-in(!) ads, while being fully aware of this and not really minding it. Just pointing out obvious hypocrisy here.

    A shame, by the way, that a once lenient, efficient browser was turned into Mozilla’s monetizing machine and paid-for ad platform.

    1. Alex said on November 22, 2020 at 9:47 am
      Reply

      At least they allow not just to opt out but make it disappear from the browser. And besides, they have to make money to keep it going. Not sure about all the Mozilla-hate from so many folks, maybe I’m missing something, but they beat the hell out of Google’s all-seeing-all-knowing-we-are-God machine.

      1. Allwynd said on November 22, 2020 at 11:36 am
        Reply

        @Alex, that sounds like you live a life of paranoia wearing your tinfoil hat.

        I don’t know if you realize it, but the way you word your post, makes you sound like a conspiracy theorists and they aren’t regarded as very sane.

        Mozilla and Firefox still exist, because Google pays them so Mozilla sends all the data collected from Firefox back to Google. If you think you’re safe using Firefox you have another thing coming.

      2. Alex said on November 23, 2020 at 9:45 am
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        @Allwynd

        Don’t see anything in what I wrote to indicate I am a tin-foil hat person. To state that Google has become an all-seeing/all-knowing entity that consider themselves free to do as they wish and is simply fact.

        As *you* say, Mozilla exists because Google pays them. Hence, Google decides their fate – and how does that contradict the Google are God and decide fates? Google pays them to make Google the default search engine. Basically, that’s it unless the rest of the Mozilla haters here can point to actual proof of what else Mozilla monetizes via Google.

      3. Alright said on November 22, 2020 at 2:36 pm
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        > maybe I’m missing something.
        Maybe like mozilla, youre ignoring something (everything)? Mozilla keeps getting rumbled on their hypocrisy and it keeps getting worse, must take some effort to ignore *all* of it.

        > they have to make money to keep it going.
        Is ads, telemetry, data monetizing and google trackers the deal? Allow it to avoid it, amirite?

        ” Bro, we have to stop the google monopoly, we have to do what google does and more :D pls bro :'( have some google tracking and ads, support us.”

    2. Gerald said on November 22, 2020 at 11:38 am
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      @Iron Heart I don’t see anybody bash Brave. I only see you talking trash about Firefox in every news about this browser.

      1. Iron Heart said on November 22, 2020 at 1:43 pm
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        @Gerald

        Whenever someone brings up Brave, or under Brave-related articles, you’ll find bashing of the opt-in, i.e. not even activated by default, ads.

        And no, I am not “talking trash” about Firefox. Look at the screenshot of this very article. All the things I mentioned can be seen right there. If you aren’t blind, I am sure you will notice. It is clear cut hypocrisy to overlook this while bashing other browsers at the same time. Period.

      2. SpywareFan said on November 22, 2020 at 4:53 pm
        Reply

        Don’t forget things like this: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1598562 , another nonsense filling my firewall logs… But hey, it’s for prevent hijacking of users profiles!

    3. sureGoAhead said on November 25, 2020 at 6:44 am
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      Bruh.. Everybody’s hypocrite, just like everybody lies. That my bruh, is a fact of life.
      Cheers^^

  2. Alex said on November 22, 2020 at 9:40 am
    Reply

    Considering the dire financials at Mozilla, if you love Firefox keep the sponsored links and click away!

    1. Anonymous said on November 22, 2020 at 10:58 am
      Reply

      Well their financials are not dire. The situation is only dire for the parasitic management.

      Every normal corporation (Mozilla is simply an extension of google, thus no independent corporation being suject to free market rules) would by now have fired 50% of the employees, adopt Chromium, and focus on creating a superb browser.

      It’s sad because they are the only ones who would have the money to actually create a chrome competitor. When it comes to usability and customizability, Brave is a joke, and they won’t be able to compete because they only have around 100 employees.

      But the route Mozilla management has chosen is to run the company into the ground long-term, but in the meantime extract as much money as possible out of their 250 million monthly users.

      1. Allwynd said on November 22, 2020 at 11:39 am
        Reply

        That’s because Google pays Mozilla to send all data collected from Firefox back to Google.

        If Firefox fanboys don’t know this or refuse to understand it, they are lost beyond help.

        Every browser sucks and every browser collects your data (well, probably Lynx doesn’t but who would use that?) … so at the end of the day you find and pick a browser that sucks the least for you and it’s easier for you to browse with.

      2. ShintoPlasm said on November 22, 2020 at 12:09 pm
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        @Allwynd:

        Any proof that Mozilla “sends all data collected from Firefox back to Google”? Sounds like a big claim to me.

      3. Iron Heart said on November 22, 2020 at 1:49 pm
        Reply

        @ShintoPlasm

        I can’t prove it for desktop Firefox, but the mobile version contains a hardcoded Google Analytics tracker and a Google Ad ID:

        https://www.ghacks.net/2020/10/10/first-tor-browser-alpha-for-android-based-on-new-firefox-is-now-available/

        In the article, it says that the Tor project had to remove this on their own fork of the code because it was considered privacy-hostile.

        That being said, Firefox has collected user data occasionally (Cliqz incident, other experiments), however no Google involvement can be stated or proven here.

      4. Allwynd said on November 22, 2020 at 7:37 pm
        Reply

        https://reports.exodus-privacy.eu.org/en/reports/org.mozilla.firefox/latest/

        You can see for Android how many trackers Firefox comes with.

        And in comparison Kiwi has 0 trackers:

        https://reports.exodus-privacy.eu.org/en/reports/com.kiwibrowser.browser/latest/

        Also Brave and Vivaldi have 0 trackers. Knowing this is the case on Android, I won’t be surprised if it’s the same case on desktop. There is just no way Mozilla is not selling telemetry data to someone for money. Believing this is not the case is beyond gullible.

      5. Sebas said on November 23, 2020 at 3:52 pm
        Reply

        @anonymus Why is Brave a joke? I am genuinely interested, maybe I miss some bad things in Brave.

    2. Daffy said on November 22, 2020 at 11:17 am
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      If Mozilla’s finances are so dire, surely the CEO Mitchell Baker should give back the millions in salary and “performance bonuses” she has drained from this non-profit while overseeing its decline in market share from a position of dominance to single figures.

      She earns $2.5 million in base salary each year, which has more than quadrupled since 2012, even as Firefox’s market share and reputation has plummeted. The entire annual budget of The Document Foundation which makes Libre Office is $1 million, including all staff salaries and expenses. Does Firefox really provide more value for money than LibreOffice?

      1. Anonymous said on November 22, 2020 at 12:36 pm
        Reply

        “Does Firefox really provide more value for money than LibreOffice?”

        Not even a fraction. Not even a fraction.

      2. Alright said on November 22, 2020 at 8:48 pm
        Reply

        The ceo is just back for the harvest and retire, anyone else would do the same with that money and an end-of-life company, priorities y’know.

        Even if the CEO / Cteam were ousted, the attitude from the devs remains, defending each and every controversy. Nothing changes until all responsible are out and problems reversed. More stupid keeps getting added to the list so its never going to happen.

  3. Anonymous said on November 22, 2020 at 10:31 am
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    To quote Mozilla;

    “Mozilla puts people over profit in everything we say, build and do.”

    Yep disabling ‘Sponsored Top Sites’ (STPs) is easy to do, and Mozilla needs to be funded, but adding a feature such as STPs does nothing, in my mind, to alleviate the exasperation with Mozilla and what they supposedly stand for.

    To quote, sort of, many a cowboy movie, “Mozilla speaks with forked tongue”.

    1. skynet said on November 22, 2020 at 1:29 pm
      Reply

      Having to yet again to go in to about: config to properly disable something is not “easy to do” for many as many won’t have even heard of it. They know that which is why they keep doing it. “mozilla puts people. before profits” yeah right. The only people who believe that are the ones who believe anything they’re told without question.

      1. Anonymous said on November 22, 2020 at 5:50 pm
        Reply

        “Having to yet again to go in to about: config to properly disable something is not “easy to do” for many as many won’t have even heard of it.”

        Except if you read Martin’s article again you will see 2 other options that are “easy to do” for all users.

  4. Daffy said on November 22, 2020 at 11:07 am
    Reply

    Firefox is becoming riddled with ads and spyware (telemetry). What with the Pocket debacle, now the sponsored top sites, and the endless telemetry being sent to third party internet marketing firms like Adjust Gmbh, Leanplum and the like, it can no longer be trusted for any privacy conscious user. At least Chrome, which has lots of phone home functionality, only sends your data to Google which already has it anyway.

    1. Anonymous said on November 23, 2020 at 12:26 am
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      When Mozilla do it, it’s ok. When other companies do it, they’re not privacy respecting!

    2. R said on November 23, 2020 at 1:14 am
      Reply

      Well said!

  5. Emil said on November 22, 2020 at 5:14 pm
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    I don’t have any of this “sponsored” stuff, as an option or otherwise, probably because I don’t have Pocket installed. Seems like the best way to get rid of this ;-)

  6. Dave said on November 22, 2020 at 8:41 pm
    Reply

    I really wish someone would create a browser that just lets me view web sites instead of incorporating data collection and advertising :(

    1. R said on November 23, 2020 at 1:18 am
      Reply

      Vivaldi browser is probably your answer. They view the browser as a tool to browse the web unlike every other browser maker company out there that views it otherwise and they clearly mention how they make money. So far they seem good but don’t know about the future (I don’t like including full blown game in the browser).

      1. ShintoPlasm said on November 23, 2020 at 12:53 pm
        Reply

        @R:

        If you follow Vivaldi’s blog, the Vivaldia game was a little, jokey present given to them by another dev whose team happens to work in the same office as the Vivaldi team.

  7. Targus said on November 23, 2020 at 12:30 am
    Reply

    People hate ads. More ads isn’t the fix.

  8. Iron Heart said on November 23, 2020 at 11:06 am
    Reply

    @Martin Brinkmann

    OT: Martin, I have a question: gHacks used to be cookie-free, but Cookie AutoDelete now sees one cookie on gHacks – yay, another cookie which the extension has to destroy each time I leave this website. Question: What is that cookie for? I can’t seem to notice anything here that has changed? Thanks in advance.

  9. Vadim Fedoseev said on November 24, 2020 at 1:26 pm
    Reply

    Utopia is the safest messanger i have ever used. It really helps you to stay anonymous and protected

  10. Anonymous said on November 24, 2020 at 1:33 pm
    Reply

    Why everyone here are hating Mozilla and the Firefox browser when they have done many great things like inventing Rust language, Java script( If Eich never gone).

    1. SpywareFan said on November 24, 2020 at 5:52 pm
      Reply

      FF reputation is being destroyed bit by bit at every update because of CEO’s decisions, but hey, it’s goolag money, she has to follow the actual trend of people profiling (mass surveillance) and flood of ads.
      Remove Red Queen = a chance for FF to regain market share.

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