Mozilla will replace the default search engine for some Firefox users

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 18, 2022
Updated • Feb 19, 2022
Firefox
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Firefox 98 will be released in early March 2022 and it will include a change that replaces the default search engine of the browser with another automatically for some users.

firefox search engines removal

Firefox ships with a number of search engines based on a user's region. The default search engine is the one that is used automatically when the user types in the address bar or uses other means to search, e.g., from the browser's New Tab Page.

In most regions, Google Search is the default, but in some, other search engines such as Baidu or Yandex are the default. Firefox users are free to add search engines to the browser and change the default search engine. If they prefer to use DuckduckGo, Startpage or Brave Search, they may do so as the browser supports it.

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An article on Mozilla's support website confirms that the default search engine may change for some Firefox users with the release of Firefox 98.

The support article is vague when it comes to specifics. It does not mention search engines by name nor does it provide any other details.

According to Mozilla, the change is necessary because it "was unable to secure formal permission to continue including search engines in Firefox". Mozilla "provided an opportunity to previously-included search engines to sign an agreement" and some search engine companies "did not complete the agreement" according to the article.

The nature of the agreement is unknown. It is unclear if it included financial compensation or other requirements. The Bugzilla bug listing is set to private.

Firefox ships with a number of search engines, many of which are local  search engines that are available besides global ones, others are search engines of commercial sites. It appears that only these search engines are affected, but there is no confirmation of this at this point.

Firefox users who are affected by the changing of the default search engine are informed about this when the browser launches.

Your default search engine has been changed. Firefox no longer supports NAME. Google is now your default search engine.

Firefox users may re-add the removed search engine to the browser again after the removal; this is a strong point in favor of the theory that the removal affects built-in search engines only, as Mozilla might likely not allow this otherwise.

Closing Words

The support page lacks information and there is a chance that only a small subset of users are affected by the change. Mozilla is shooting itself into the foot with the omittance of important information in the article. Would it be that difficult to list the affected search engines or provide a brief explanation of the agreement that search engine companies had to sign?

This miscommunication happens frequently. It is often a tempest in a teapot that could have been avoided entirely if communication would have been clearer.

Now You:

Summary
Mozilla will replace the default search engine for some Firefox users
Article Name
Mozilla will replace the default search engine for some Firefox users
Description
Firefox 98 will be released in early March 2022 and it will include a change that replaces the default search engine of the browser with another automatically for some users.
Author
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. walker said on February 18, 2022 at 8:14 am
    Reply

    This week I definitely dropped FF, the only browser I’ve used so far. I got really bored with all this nonsense!

  2. Anonymous said on February 18, 2022 at 8:36 am
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    they really didn’t learn anything from the mr. robot incident, didn’t they?

  3. John G. said on February 18, 2022 at 10:01 am
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    I don’t understand why this option is not set to blank and then FF ask for it at first search. :[

    1. Neutrino said on February 18, 2022 at 11:29 am
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      You don’t understand $400 million per year?

      1. John G. said on February 18, 2022 at 2:51 pm
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        @Neutrino money talks, really! :[

  4. computer said no said on February 18, 2022 at 10:07 am
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    What on earth is all the fuss about.The user can decide which engine they use manually.

    Much ado about nothing once again.

  5. ard said on February 18, 2022 at 10:24 am
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    not using the default search engine for the last so many years. as long my preferred DuckDuckGo is still possible to select, I am happy.

  6. Tom Hawack said on February 18, 2022 at 11:34 am
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    Thirty-six (because I dislike starting a sentence with digits) search engines here, all built-in ones disabled, plus quite many smart keywords. Maybe too many but, like an encyclopedia, handy when you need though not all regularly used, consulted. I even have a smart keyword for Ghacks (gh for access, gh+ for search : now ain’t that evidence of true love, though apart from the song marvelously interpreted by Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby!).

    Those I use the most are (of course) those dedicated to Web search : DuckDuckGo (default), Qwant, Startpage, Metager, Mojeek, searX (metasearch.nl in my case)… and to further narrow : DuckDuckGo. Not that I consider DDG’s results as superior to all others but mainly because I appreciate its page display, even if I’ve had to hide what seems to be the practice of all search engines : adding a line of results for images, news, videos when you’re searching for Web results only and that specifics are accessible right above in the navigation bar. No Google Web search, privacy intrusion apart I also dislike its ‘people also search for’ and other ‘related searches’ pollution : I’m no baby, no need to be fed with a spoon. That’s about it, comrades.

    1. Yash said on February 18, 2022 at 12:38 pm
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      Though not quite thirty six, but yeah I also remove default ones bar DDG. I like to add them manually. Manual mode is the best.

    2. Klaas Vaak said on February 18, 2022 at 7:21 pm
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      @Tom Hawack: howdy, how have you been keepin’?
      DDG, Qwant = Bing anonymized. Ever try Swisscows?

      1. Klaas Vaak said on February 18, 2022 at 7:22 pm
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        @Tom Hawack: how about Brave Search?

      2. Neutrino said on February 18, 2022 at 7:34 pm
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        @Klaas Vaak
        I’m using it, and it’s actually very good – for a baby search engine. And the reason that people don’t know much about it, is because Brave are 90% busy with their crypto crap instead.

      3. Tom Hawack said on February 19, 2022 at 12:03 am
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        @ Klaas Vaak, howdy! The beat goes on, those of my heart as well :=) I read your comments and they reflect no sign of despair so no need to ask how you’re doing!

        Many search engines use Bing results, I agree, even lesser known/new search engines which appear here and there. I think Bing is one among others of DDG’s sources, but perhaps indeed the one and only of Qwant. Nevertheless I prefer to share my pillow secrets with the former two than with Microsoft’s agent on the Web, lol.

        I’ve tried Swisscows which uses Bing results as well together with I don’t remember which other engine. Wasn’t fond of it. I also had a look at eTools Metasearch (Swiss as well I think), Gigablast, Private.sh (fed by Gigablast) … motivated by curiosity, but I won’t use them because narrowing to six is already substantial even if, as you note it, Papa Bing is generous with engines which call upon it’s openess (always that which won’t go to Google!).

        I’ve tried Brave Search, I even have it handled by smart keywords (bs, bsi, bsn, bsv for its Web, images, news and video searches). Now that I’ve got them no point in removing them but, frankly… I use neither. Not that bs be whatever BullS*** (hard for me to avoid a laugh per paragraph), but rather that BS’ one page Web search results seems to me excessively limited. On the other hand BS’ pictures and video results are quite nice IMO.

        As i said DDG is my primary search engine but if I aimed only for the ultimate privacy I can imagine in terms of Web search i would choose searX (which I use but not as default), but with a good instance. We’ve all noticed projects flourishing and all aiming to offer alternatives to the “institutional” leaders, be it Google&YouTube, Reddit, Twitter and several others. Generally these projects have an official domain (the one that started it all) and because of their community policy the code can be shared with whoever : that whoever an be more or less qualified in terms of skill as well as in terms of morality : doesn’t make the project suspicious, but invites awareness to differentiate a project from its servers. For instance my searX instance is metasearch.nl (I waited 6 months to have NSA’s analysis results for the site : just joking) and I think it’s OK.

        But in the equation leading to choose a search engine, several parameters : on one hand, privacy, on the other efficiency, on the third (a foot will do it) display (cosmetics, design, aesthetic). Then you weigh each of these for each engine in correlation with the importance you attribute for each given your very own priorities… that’s why, for the time being, DDG is my choice.

        Midnight here. Read you later, Klaas.

      4. Klaas Vaak said on February 19, 2022 at 5:17 am
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        @Tom Hawack: thanks for that interesting essay ;-))
        I agree with your comments. The last paragraph sums it up nicely, which is why I keep returning to Swisscows and DDG as a back-up. I can’t seem to get good results out of Metger, SearX, Mojeek, although they all have a good paradigm.

        Just out of interest: why metasearch.nl, are you Dutch?

      5. Tom Hawack said on February 19, 2022 at 11:38 am
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        @ Klaas Vaak,

        > Just out of interest: why metasearch.nl, are you Dutch?

        No more than being French would have motivated me for choosing Qwant as one of my six Web search engines!

        I had tested several searX instances, some occasionally failed, in particular when retrieving Google results.
        That’s for the efficiency. Regarding what is done of one’s queries I’m relying on nothing rational I must say. The latter remark also explains why I use alternatively several search engines : to confuse the enemies (should they be, or because of never putting all your eggs in the same basket) . I wonder if statistically paranoids are less hurt than others, lol.

    3. max3 said on February 20, 2022 at 10:48 pm
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      @Tom Hawick

      What? You ain’t “feeling lucky?”

      1. Tom Hawack said on February 21, 2022 at 10:18 am
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        @max3, feeling lucky? What can that possibly mean? That luck is on our side, a fundamental optimism?
        I don’t believe in luck nor in superstitions. Luck would be when things turn out the way you want within a very tight perspective without having had to intervene? A very short term joy. Am I lucky if I inherit a million dollars and ruin my life with those raining bucks afterwards? Am I unlucky because I broke a leg at ski and later on met the love of my life at the hospital?

        Luck is a fantasy ghost. Always amazing to notice how this irrationality remains active in our minds.

  7. Iron Heart said on February 18, 2022 at 1:34 pm
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    Mozilla, setting a default search engine is OK (although their financial dependence on Google is ridiculous), replacing the chosen search engine of the user is not… It is not hard to understand at all.

    Btw, those who are reading this and insist on using this garbage, at least make sure that you close the Firefox Experiments / Normandy backdoor.

    1. Red Rooster 365 said on February 18, 2022 at 9:44 pm
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      Btw, those who are reading this and insist on using Brave, at least make sure that you close the application update backdoor

      1. Iron Heart said on February 19, 2022 at 8:29 am
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        @Red Rooster 365

        Epic fail. Every browser has an updater… not every browser can remotely install spyware and other crap after the fact, on the same version. Try again.

      2. Klaas Vaak said on February 19, 2022 at 9:36 am
        Reply

        @Iron Heart: greetings, hope you are well!
        You have to hand it to Red Rooster 365, he is trying hard. He cannot come up with original comments so he recycles yours, but he IS trying. LOL.

  8. Martin P. said on February 18, 2022 at 2:36 pm
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    Martin,

    Small typo here:

    “including search search engines”

  9. MR MUSTASHE said on February 18, 2022 at 5:03 pm
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    Greetings!..

    The only primary search engine of choice for me is duckduckgo.onion… removing ALL the rest, including the regular duckduckgo.com– that I list under about:config as FALSE! And NO, it’s not the same as the onion version!… and you should stop using it! And although I have added Wikipedia of recent for dedicated searches, I do not view this engine as a global search engine– i.e., an engine that/ which isn’t tied to a specific search parameter and doesn’t delimit one’s use of menu options (such as Time, Images, Videos, and etc.). And although DDGOO provides a more secure search environment, your Settings are key to facilitating that environment… and so, be sure to choose the optimum Settings before proceeding with your search! These points having been made, there is a significant need for improvement re the DDGOO search engine… the specifics of which, would require a new ghacks blog!

    To close… and to be frank!… NONE of our global or dedicated search engines are doing what they’re supposed to be doing! And in the light of the concerns expressed by Dr. Robert Epstein regarding the Search Engine Manipulation Effect/ SEME… and what I’ve termed, the “Search Engine Optimization Manipulation Effect/ SEOME (i.e., the hiring of some third-party schmucks to place one’s website at the top of a “search results pecking order”!)!… I’m AMAZED that our Cyber Advocates and Advocacies haven’t banded together to eradicate this BLATANT EVIL right under our noses! But, the EVILS with these chaps behind our search engines are FAR WORSE!

    People!… if your search engine results are “algorithm(icly) rigged” before your search leaves the address bar gate (e.g., your “cyber horse”/ “cyber truth” has been “cyber drugged”/ “cyber hamstrung”… depending on the “revealing” nature of your search!), then wherein is there an UNFETTERED EVOLUTION of the Internet– LET ALONE, an UNFETTERED EVOLUTION of society? And “results”, which have been prepared in advance… before you’ve even asked the SOCIALLY RELEVANT QUESTION! And willfully being DELUDED, states what about one’s frame of mind? Search engines are our main gateway to our CYBER OZ!… but, if wannabe WIZARDS are “blowing cyber smoke” and “pulling cyber curtain strings”, then our choices may be but an ILLUSION! That’s BAD!… VERY BAD!

    In Posting ANYWHERE, I give NO SANCTION to/ for a breach of my Constitutionally protected Rights and Freedoms, nor, to/ for a violation of any of the “Articles” to be found within the “Universal declaration of Human Rights”/ UDHR (and, e.g., Article 27 of the UDHR, wherein we read: 1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community [e.g., this site], to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits; and 2., Everyone has the RIGHT to the PROTECTION of the MORAL and MATERIAL INTERESTS resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he [one!] is the author [e.g., the Blog Comment that you are now reading!]). And so and thus, EVERY WEBSITE on the Net– by Human Rights default– must not only provide webizens with a Blog Comment Host widget with which to facilitate PUBLIC Free Speech and Press Freedom re PUBLICLY POSTED site blogs, but also ensure that webizen Postings (Public or Private) are Constitutionally and UDHR protected!

    1. ShintoPlasm said on February 19, 2022 at 9:48 pm
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      Dude. Chill.

      1. MR MUSTASHE said on February 20, 2022 at 1:21 am
        Reply

        Scram!

    2. Tom Hawack said on February 21, 2022 at 1:59 pm
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      2022 A Cyber Odyssey. I never fully understood the earlier Space Odyssey either. Reminds that if paradise does exist it certainly isn’t on Earth. We can elaborate indefinitely on what things should be or strive to improve reality. Whatever the approach, what exactly is paradise other than our very personal definition? What can we possibly consider to correlate to a universal consensus of bad and good? Not much, even less on what to do to to achieve such an hypothetical consensus. The choice is between a slow evolution but respectful of the variety of the beliefs of each and every one of us, or dictating that my truth is universal hence that of others is to be condemned. This requirement for fast and radical modifications is basically the poison actually wrecking democracy.

      Not sure I would have elaborated here and now in these terms if I had fully understood MR MUSTACHE’s epic declaration. Maybe have I just missed his point (of beard).

      1. MR MUSTASHE said on February 26, 2022 at 3:52 am
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        If you’re a drinker you should stop!… if you’re not, you should start!

        In Posting ANYWHERE, I give NO SANCTION to/ for a breach of my Constitutionally protected Rights and Freedoms, nor, to/ for a violation of any of the “Articles” to be found within the “Universal declaration of Human Rights”/ UDHR (and, e.g., Article 27 of the UDHR, wherein we read: 1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community [e.g., this site], to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits; and 2., Everyone has the RIGHT to the PROTECTION of the MORAL and MATERIAL INTERESTS resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he [one!] is the author [e.g., the Blog Comment that you are now reading!]). And so and thus, EVERY WEBSITE on the Net– by Human Rights default– must not only provide webizens with a Blog Comment Host widget with which to facilitate PUBLIC Free Speech and Press Freedom re PUBLICLY POSTED site blogs, but also ensure that webizen Postings (Public or Private) are Constitutionally and UDHR protected! And if there be a dispute between the Privacy Policy of this site and the Constitution’s and UDHR’s Rights and Freedoms, the latter shall prevail!

      2. Rex said on February 27, 2022 at 1:14 pm
        Reply

        Oh intercourse off. Copypasting the same bovine excrement everywhere.

      3. MR MUSTASHE said on March 3, 2022 at 3:51 am
        Reply

        King?… I don’t think so! You read like a farmer… with issues.

  10. Jake said on February 18, 2022 at 9:52 pm
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    Changing peoples’ settings without asking them for permission first, is wrong. It is almost as wrong as still showing me ads and nag screens for stuff like Mozilla VPN on the new tab page even though I expressly went out of my way to configure the browser to _always_ start with a blank new page.

    That said, users don’t use software today, software uses users.

    I think Blender is the last remaining program where I feel like I am in control of the computer while using it, not someone else.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on February 19, 2022 at 9:39 am
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      @Jake re the Mozilla VPN nag et al, give Firefox fork Librewolf a try, it strips out all the surreptitious crap.

      1. MR MUSTASHE said on February 20, 2022 at 1:36 am
        Reply

        Librewolf includes DuckDuckGo.com… and that’s a serious problem!… and it’s not to be confused with DuckDuckGo.onion!

        In Posting ANYWHERE, I give NO SANCTION to/ for a breach of my Constitutionally protected Rights and Freedoms, nor, to/ for a violation of any of the “Articles” to be found within the “Universal declaration of Human Rights”/ UDHR (and, e.g., Article 27 of the UDHR, wherein we read: 1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community [e.g., this site], to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits; and 2., Everyone has the RIGHT to the PROTECTION of the MORAL and MATERIAL INTERESTS resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he [one!] is the author [e.g., the Blog Comment that you are now reading!]). And so and thus, EVERY WEBSITE on the Net– by Human Rights default– must not only provide webizens with a Blog Comment Host widget with which to facilitate PUBLIC Free Speech and Press Freedom re PUBLICLY POSTED site blogs, but also ensure that webizen Postings (Public or Private) are Constitutionally and UDHR protected!

  11. Klaas Vaak said on February 20, 2022 at 4:28 am
    Reply

    @MR MUSTASHE: DDG being included in LW is NO PROBLEM at all since the user is NOT obliged to use it, nor to have it as their default search engine. LW allows the user to change their search engine, it really is as simple as that.

    1. MR MUSTASHE said on February 26, 2022 at 8:32 am
      Reply

      You are incorrect!… nevertheless, your delusion is your right to entertain.

      In Posting ANYWHERE, I give NO SANCTION to/ for a breach of my Constitutionally protected Rights and Freedoms, nor, to/ for a violation of any of the “Articles” to be found within the “Universal declaration of Human Rights”/ UDHR (and, e.g., Article 27 of the UDHR, wherein we read: 1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community [e.g., this site], to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits; and 2., Everyone has the RIGHT to the PROTECTION of the MORAL and MATERIAL INTERESTS resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he [one!] is the author [e.g., the Blog Comment that you are now reading!]). And so and thus, EVERY WEBSITE on the Net– by Human Rights default– must not only provide webizens with a Blog Comment Host widget with which to facilitate PUBLIC Free Speech and Press Freedom re PUBLICLY POSTED site blogs, but also ensure that webizen Postings (Public or Private) are Constitutionally and UDHR protected! And if there be a dispute between the Privacy Policy of this site and the Constitution’s and UDHR’s Rights and Freedoms, the latter shall prevail!

  12. VanguardLH said on May 10, 2022 at 11:36 pm
    Reply

    “Firefox users are free to add search engines to the browser and change the default search engine.” Not true. Installing an add-on for a search engine just, well, adds the addon. This does NOT update the lists under about:preferences#search for “Search Shortcuts” or “Default Search Engine”. Go there, delete all but one of the search providers under “Search Shortcuts”, select the remaining one under “Default Search”, and then install the addon, like for DuckDuckGo. After installing the add-on, notice it is NOT listed under “Search Shortcuts”, and it is not listed under “Default Search” to use it as the default search engine. You cannot select the add-on as the default search engine, like when you enter text into the address bar. All you can do is restore the search shortcuts, and use THOSE from that pre-installed list of search providers.

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