Firefox 93 has begun testing a feature that should generate controversy: now, as the user types what they want into the taskbar, the browser suggests sponsored links based on context. The resource page prompts the user to accept these links. It is possible to disable these suggestions, but this setting is not so easy to find.
Firefox Suggest comes with the promise of helping you find history items, already open tabs, and bookmark pages. It also has sponsored links. According to Mozilla, it’s to help fund the development and maintenance of the software.
These sponsored links are based on the user’s context. The foundation explains that it shares data with business partners when the user sees or clicks on a suggestion.
The organization emphasizes that the user’s location is based on the IP address and converted to a wider region and that there is no information that allows for personal identification.
Sponsored links are being tested in the US, with a small number of users. Firefox asks if they want to enable suggestions on a pop-up page, but has a catch: the highlighted button is allow, and a gray configure button is next to it. And to refuse? There’s a “Not now” hidden in the upper right corner, far away from the two.
This can be considered a dark pattern. This is the name given to the use of patterns, especially in interfaces, to trick the user into accepting something he would not otherwise agree to.
On the other hand, Firefox Suggest is only activated with the user’s explicit permission, in an opt-in scheme, either in this window or directly in the browser options. Even so, when accepting the suggestion feature, the sponsored links are also marked. To turn them off, you need to go to the settings and uncheck the box.
Firefox 93 has new security features
Sponsored links and sharing information with business partners may scare off some more loyal Firefox users. Mozilla’s browser and the foundation as a whole have always highlighted their struggle for a web that respects privacy.
The new version of the browser, by the way, brings more innovations in this regard. It now automatically blocks downloads from unencrypted connections by default — it has a way to free the files, but the user is again faced with an unmarked gray button, which is more discouraging than convincing.
In addition, Firefox 93 brings SmartBlock 3.0, with improved protection with trackers, and a new feature for Windows that unloads tabs when system memory is too low.
Mozilla is also testing switching Google for Bing
Firefox Suggest is one of Mozilla’s initiatives to lessen users’ dependence on Google. According to Selena Deckelmann, senior vice president of the browser, the company wants to help curate and gather information to make life easier for users.
In another test revealed in September, the foundation changed Firefox’s default search engine for 1% of users. They started to come with Bing configured in place of Google.
Mozilla and Google have an agreement estimated at $400 million a year for the search giant to remain the browser’s default search engine. This option is the target of some criticism, as well as sharing with search providers what the user types to make suggestions.
However, most of Mozilla’s revenue comes precisely from this type of deal, which suggests that it shouldn’t give up this source of funds anytime soon. The contract with Google expires in 2023 and must be renewed.
With information: The Verge, How-To Geek, The Register