Mozilla blames recaptcha issue in Firefox on Google

Martin Brinkmann
May 3, 2024
Updated • May 3, 2024
Firefox
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40

Mozilla confirmed a recaptcha issue in the organization's Firefox web browser yesterday evening.

Affected Firefox users see a spinning animation when they try to solve the captcha, which means that they are unable to do so. The result is that they cannot access the website or service. A workaround is available.

The issue affects all major versions of Firefox for Windows that are supported  by Mozilla as well as older versions. This includes Firefox 125, the current stable version of Firefox, the development versions 126 and 127, and also Firefox ESR 115.

Mozilla says that the issue is not caused by changes that it made to Firefox. Instead, it believes that Google is the culprit and it makes the following points to back this up:

  • The issue affects new and old Firefox installations alike. It affects Firefox ESR, Firefox Stable, and also Firefox releases that were released last year and are no longer supported.
  • Changing the user agent to Firefox for Linux or Chrome for Windows makes the captchas work again.
  • Changing the user agent of Chrome to Firefox for Windows breaks the captchas in Chrome as well.

Workaround for the Firefox captcha issue

Firefox users who run into the issue may resolve it in the following way:

  1. Type about:config in the Firefox address bar.
  2. Search for general.useragent.override.
  3. Switch to String and activate the add-icon.
  4. Copy and paste the following string into the field: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:125.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/125.0.
  5. Click on the edit icon next to the line to save the change.

Firefox identifies as Firefox for Linux now. You may also use a different user agent, e.g., that for Chrome for Windows.

Note: you may want to delete the entry again once the issue is fixed.

Closing Words

Provided that Mozilla's assessment of Google being the culprit is correct, it highlights a major issue. Google, being also one of the main competitors of Mozilla, has also control over large popular Internet services.

This includes websites such as Google Search, Gmail, or YouTube, but also behind-the-scenes services such as recaptcha. Even unintentional changes may have severe consequences for Firefox and other competing browsers, especially if they do not use Chromium as the core.

Check out the bug report for additional information about the issue and fixes.

Do you use Firefox? Have you experienced issues with captchas recently?

Summary
Article Name
Mozilla blames recaptcha issue in Firefox on Google
Description
Mozilla confirmed an issue with captchas in the organization's Firefox web browser for Windows yesterday evening. 
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. G0gleWebStandards said on May 6, 2024 at 7:45 am
    Reply

    It has been proven time & time again Google being the dominant force in making web standards is purposely breaking or slowing down other non-chromium based browsers as to force one to use their telemetry ridden chrome browser.

  2. rantroid said on May 6, 2024 at 12:23 am
    Reply

    I’m using whatever the current version of FF ESR portable, and have never seen this issue.

    Given the choice, I’ll use the ESR version of anything. The rest of the world can be the beta testers for the tsunami of all-too-frequently “improved” crapware that is consumer software in 2024.

  3. Anonymous said on May 5, 2024 at 9:51 pm
    Reply

    These sound like excuses.

    Google can do anything they want with their services, so what’s the issue here?

    Firefox team making Firefox browser, they MUST FIND workarounds for every web compatibility issues.
    They can’t just sit around and complain, they can’t just sit around and expect users to manually solve the issues.

    Even if it requires them to develop a feature specifically to fix these issues, they can’t just sit and complain how Google are making changes and all that..
    This sounds like how Firefox said that it was too much work to release a full native adblocker because it would require too much work since they could ‘break the web’ and all that. They expect devs and people to do their job, which is to render pages correctly and with no issues, when it should be the other way around, people should just load pages and Firefox should be the best they can to avoid these issues.
    If it was to do with user agent? then make a feature with a list that will change useragent specifically for X and Y websites, but expecting users to MANUALLY change useragent for ‘captchas’ seems pretty lame.

    1. AnonymousToo said on May 8, 2024 at 2:01 pm
      Reply

      It’s enough to change the useragent to have CAPTCHA working again on FF or stop working on Chrome… yet you put the blame on Mozilla…
      How can you justify such an issue if not Google blocking specifically some useragents?

      Once again how can you blame Mozilla for not integrating things when all other BIG moneygreedy corps take antitrust laws in the face?

  4. John G. said on May 5, 2024 at 11:58 am
    Reply

    I didn’t notice this issue because I mainly use Firefox in Linux (currently Kubuntu 24.04). Thanks for the article! :]

  5. John C. said on May 4, 2024 at 3:09 pm
    Reply

    Like a lot of other people, I’m sure, I simply close the tab and go elsewhere whenever I get a reCAPTCHA thrown in my face. I’m very tired of identifying bridges, motorcycles, cars, crosswalks and other nonsense perfectly, then having to continue several times until I’m allowed to do something on a website. Very, very tired of it. Remember, Google is using the info gleaned from reCAPTCHA screens to train its AI.

  6. InsaRata said on May 4, 2024 at 12:17 pm
    Reply

    everyone on google should be in a horror movie where no one survives

  7. John said on May 4, 2024 at 11:35 am
    Reply

    I have the same problem with Cloudflare verification that spins endlessly so I can’t log in and access the site I need to connect to.
    With Edge on the same sites, no problem.

    1. Shiva said on May 6, 2024 at 10:40 am
      Reply

      Have you by any chance privacy.resistfngerprinting enabled? Indeed on my main Firefox profile I also have issues with Cloudflare and recently I often have to reopen the page with the second profile where it is not active. But sometimes to wait a bit finally the box to check appears.
      I haven’t looked into it yet but it’s a big pain…

      1. John said on May 8, 2024 at 9:50 am
        Reply

        No Shiva. Disabled or enabled, it’s the same.
        I don’t have a secondary profile and I guess I tested all I could.
        Like you, it sometimes (rarely) finally works, but so far, I couldn’t find any explanation.

      2. Shiva said on May 8, 2024 at 10:57 pm
        Reply

        @John
        Hmm, I don’t know. Both profiles use strict mode and userjs with less stringent parameters in the second profile. Plus there is the VPN which maybe it makes things more complicate

      3. John said on May 9, 2024 at 10:31 pm
        Reply

        Shiva,

        I tried again and again, and I got this :

        First, I’m on a page with the Cloudflare verification turning round and round, so I can’t log in.
        Then I open a new tab and I stay on it for about 10 seconds (I guess it’s about the time for a cycle of the Cloudflare verification)
        And I come back to my original tab, and guess what, the Cloudflare box is ready.
        I then click on the box to check I am a human and I get a Success.

        Cannot explain the trick, but it works and allows me to pass the Cloudflare verification.

    2. Lord Bastard said on May 5, 2024 at 7:56 am
      Reply

      The best way Google should be punished is by having them forcefully laying off their employees again and again. Layoffs are necessary for a dirty tech company like Google. ?

  8. Carl said on May 4, 2024 at 4:01 am
    Reply

    Google has effectively confirmed that they were the cause of the problem:

    See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1894735

    Most interesting part of the comments is that “if you spoof [the user agent] as Firefox for Windows in Chrome, it breaks exactly the same way”

  9. Really? said on May 4, 2024 at 2:06 am
    Reply

    It’s not just a “claim”. It’s painfully obvious from the evidence that this was a problem with Google’s update to Recaptcha, not Firefox. I mean what else could it be if changing the useragent strings like that magically fixes the issue? Use Chrome pretending to be Firefox? It’s broken. Use Firefox pretending to be Chrome? Works fine. This is a sign that Google doesn’t really even check their sites on Firefox, despite serving custom versions to Firefox user-agent strings. It’s about as close to being openly malicious as you can be while retaining any plausible deniability.

  10. RustyKrusty said on May 4, 2024 at 12:24 am
    Reply

    everyone using reCAPTCHA should switch to hCaptcha and leave google and its ‘humiliating’ services behind!

    1. dumlat said on May 4, 2024 at 10:10 am
      Reply

      This. Who else turns back when presented with reCAPTCHA ? I certainly do, even if I have to eventually cancel a service. Cattle will be cattle.

  11. Tom Hawack said on May 3, 2024 at 8:50 pm
    Reply

    I do use Firefox, 115.10.0 ESR at this time. I never encountered the Google recaptcha within Firefox issue because the only captcha I accept is the one asking me to confirm I am a human, such as those of Cloudflare and pass my way when having to resolve a PITA. Moreover, I have no idea if Google recaptchas are found only or more specifically on Google domains but if so, given I avoid Google and Google affiliated domains to the maximum extent of my knowledge, I seldom encounter any, cannot even remember last time I did.

  12. Leland said on May 3, 2024 at 7:38 pm
    Reply

    Google isn’t necessarily the only thing that breaks recaptcha in Firefox. I have had issues with NoScript and uBlock Origin when using the annoyances filter. But I agree Google is using nefarious means to push their own browser and services.

  13. Mike said on May 3, 2024 at 5:16 pm
    Reply

    I hate how Recrapcha is embedded and running on nearly every website on the Internet. I am not interested in doing free labor for Google, I don’t want them tracking me, and I do not owe them anything.

    1. Anonymous said on May 6, 2024 at 6:16 pm
      Reply

      Which is of course nonsense. Google pays Mozilla quite a hefty sum of money, just to keep them afloat, because it’s the last major browser completely independent of Chrome. The existence of Firefox alone prevents Google from having monopoly problems similar to those of Microsoft in the late 90s. Google is certainly not that dumb, especially looking at the current development of Firefox’s market share.
      It’s rather more likely, that they just didn’t properly test their new development and that their CAPTCHA code dealing with Firefox browser was buggy or largely untested.

      1. anon2 said on May 11, 2024 at 7:45 am
        Reply

        @anon
        What are you talking about? How is any of this connected to what Mike said?

  14. Anonymous said on May 3, 2024 at 4:12 pm
    Reply

    Google confirmed that this was mitigated, and the bug has been closed.

  15. John said on May 3, 2024 at 3:46 pm
    Reply

    Maybe Firefox has just become irrelevant with such low user share. I had to stop using Firefox altogether because it did not work with some sites. I really don’t care who’s fault it is. If your browser doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. If it happens too frequently users will switch to another browser.

    1. Divine Shadow said on May 4, 2024 at 10:42 am
      Reply

      Quite simply it was Google writing poor quality code in their last reCAPTHA update.

      The script attempted to modify a DIV background colour using document.body.removeChild, but as the script was loaded in the HTML HEAD element, the DOM had not loaded yet and document.body was not available, causing the script error.

      Competent JavaScript coders or professional Web Developers don’t usually make such amateurish schoolboy errors. The details in the HEAD SHOULD come before the BODY.

      Do you believe that time travel is a certain hope? That it is possible to see into the future, rather than into the past?

      1. Tom Hawack said on May 4, 2024 at 12:53 pm
        Reply

        “Do you believe that time travel is a certain hope? That it is possible to see into the future, rather than into the past?”
        What future, what past? All events occur simultaneously though in different dimensions and time is the only tool we have to understand them, perceived sequentially. Gliding from one to another (time travel) will be possible the moment we understand what we ignore of their relationship. We can move in space, not in time (for the time being!), and I remember the writings of a French occultist asserting that life after death is the exact opposite : the ability to move in time but not in space : I cannot confirm :)
        Remains fiction, need to say. Seems I digressed.

    2. Alex said on May 4, 2024 at 2:36 am
      Reply

      This is the kind of comment that is literally facepalm-ish … you are literally defending google on this one, even tought you know they been doing sketch stuff for the past months even with youtube.

    3. Tom Hawack said on May 3, 2024 at 8:57 pm
      Reply

      I’ve been using Firefox ever since versions 2.x and cannot remember a site not or poorly managed by the browser, except maybe 2 or 3 but because they are instructed by their admin to require Chrome in particular even though they run perfectly well once the user-agent is modified to reflect a Chrome browser, such as i.e. [https://histography.io/].

    4. Allwynd said on May 3, 2024 at 7:34 pm
      Reply

      That’s it. Bingo!

      It’s just that Firefox, its creators and the last remaining users are all delusional and think this outdated browser is in the right and everyone else is in the wrong. While Mozilla is focused on parroting some meaningless drivel about privacy to entice some tinfoil hat wearing fools to their cause, and they are on their 68th UI reboot while underneath the browser is the same it was in 2002. Even the History sidebar hasn’t been updated since 2002 to include an option to display History and Download into a tab instead of a sidebar or a floating window.

      All they are focused on is DEI and wokeness, their already dead browser is becoming even worse and more useless. Their main focus is making the Firefox logo’s colors more ghey and gender-neutral to go hand-in-hand with their degenerate agenda. Then they wonder why their browser is losing people – they make it political, they remove customization and at the same time web compatibility is becoming more and more inferior compared to WebKit and Blink. They can’t do anything at this point besides:

      A) proudly sink with the ship
      B) switch Firefox to Blink and dump Gecko, something even Microsoft in their short-sightedness managed to do in order to still have a horse in the race

      Firefox at this point is becoming so insignificant in user market share that it’s pointless to even waste time and space and include it anymore. It’s a relic of a bygone era and a lesson to everyone on “how to not to develop your product”.

      1. bruh said on May 13, 2024 at 11:25 am
        Reply

        Allwynd, regardless of Firefox’s weird or ideological management, and despite how bad the browser looks and feels “out of the box”, all of this is irrelevant to the discerning user.

        To make up for all it’s flaws, Firefox is infinitely customisable and tweakable, if you don’t like a behavior, an animation, a button, a pop-up, you can just remove/replace it – there’s no other browser that can do that.

      2. forcethewind said on May 7, 2024 at 2:45 pm
        Reply

        So Google captchas are broken because of “DEI and wokeness”….interesting.

      3. semce said on May 6, 2024 at 1:11 pm
        Reply

        I’ve used FF for years and I liken it to a pair of comfy worn jeans. I like how it works and I will continue to use it as long as it exists. And kudos for their progressive attitude.

      4. upp said on May 4, 2024 at 4:02 pm
        Reply

        Lmao tech users nowadays are so.dogshit like this

    5. Steve said on May 3, 2024 at 7:01 pm
      Reply

      Your full of it… If a website won’t work its your issue.

  16. pHROZEN gHOST said on May 3, 2024 at 3:17 pm
    Reply

    I’ve had serious issues with The Chive for a very long time. The recaptchas never stop coming even tho’ I know I have them right each time. I just give up.

  17. Bobo said on May 3, 2024 at 3:04 pm
    Reply

    This was a missed opportunity to anger Google, Martin. You could have recommended people use EDGE instead for all their recaptcha needs =) All absurd jokes aside, maybe we can consider this yet another nervous move by Google to discredit Firefox before the mass exodus to Mozillaworld begins, once the Google Ad-tsunami hits the planet. For a multi-gazillion company Google sure is petty, and fights dirty as hell… Greedy scum.

  18. Anonymous said on May 3, 2024 at 1:32 pm
    Reply

    Google has been breaking their services on the mobile version of Firefox too, literally one of the most popular mobile add-ons is one that changes your user agent to Chrome across Google’s services.

    1. Allwynd said on May 3, 2024 at 7:44 pm
      Reply

      What a backwards browser that needs to mask its user agent in order to work properly. Besides, Google is garbage. There are better search engines out there:

      – Presearch
      – Brave
      – Yandex
      – Starpage used to be good until one time I searched for “hp lovecraft” and the first result said “he was a white supremacist” and then I stopped using such a BS political woke search engine… they literally went out of their way to highlight a line from the Wikpedia article about how some soyboy femboys think he was bad for not having enough melanin in his skin… what a pathetic search engine ran by impotent losers

      As for YouTube alternatives, there are

      – INVIDIOUS – no ads and doesn’t give reflect any activity on YouTube – even content creators don’t get views when you watch things, it’s THAT good
      – Piped – like INVIDIOUS – no ads and sends no data to YouTube
      – Rumble (not YouTube, but it doesn’t have YouTube’s woke degenerate censorship where you aren’t allowed to say the truth and you are only allowed to call the “evil” “good” and the “good” – “evil”.

      My advice – stop using trash like Firefox on PC or mobile, it’s a dead POS. On PC Brave, Yandex and Vivaldi are good, Opera used to be good, but version 100 fvcked the UI and they aren’t going back to the old one. Their retardation is severe.

      On mobile, Brave is good, Kiwi on Android supports extensions like uBlock, recently Edge on Android supports extensions too, but it’s garbage, Yandex on Android is trying to support extensions, but so far it’s not doing a good enough job.

      Firefox is slow, especially on Android, slow and bloated even on Snaprdragon phones with UFS memory, you just install Kiwi or Brave and see day and night difference. There is even Thorium – a Chromium compiled only for newer CPUs and it runs even better if your CPU is from the last 5-7 years.

      1. anti-sophist said on May 6, 2024 at 7:30 am
        Reply

        “Starpage used to be good until one time I searched for “hp lovecraft” and the first result said “he was a white supremacist” and then I stopped using such a BS political woke search engine… they literally went out of their way to highlight a line from the Wikpedia article about how some soyboy femboys think he was bad for not having enough melanin in his skin… what a pathetic search engine ran by impotent losers.”

        So you only use search engines that provide answers you agree with? If all the links presented in a search said “he was a white supremacist” I could understand your point, but a single link in a search you disagree with means the entire search engine is no good?

        What’s the point of using a search if you are only looking for results you already know and agree with?

      2. just an Ed said on May 4, 2024 at 7:15 pm
        Reply

        I find your comment/argument nonsensical. If changing the user agent solves the problem, then it cannot be the rendering engine; as changing the former will not change the latter. You are welcome to like or dislike whatever you choose, but at least present intelligent arguments.

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