Mozilla triggers backlash with Mr. Robotic Firefox extension

It appeared like a good suggestion at Mozilla — promote pc safety and privateness consciousness utilizing a tie-in with an internet recreation from the favored Mr. Robotic hacker TV collection. However virtually instantly, the plan began backfiring.

On Wednesday, Firefox customers began complaining cryptic extension had been put in of their browser with no express permission or clarification of what it does — solely an outline that learn “MY REALITY IS DIFFERENT THAN YOURS.” Folks ripped into Mozilla in a Reddit dialogue after one Firefox person fretted, “I don’t know what it’s or the place it got here from. I freaked out a bit and uninstalled it instantly.”

Mark 57, a Firefox-themed takeoff on an Iron Man swimsuit, served as Mozilla’s Quantum mascot.


Mozilla had put in the Trying Glass extension remotely on their machines this week via a partnership with Mr. Robotic, nevertheless it stopped doing so when folks began giving them an earful, the nonprofit group mentioned.

“Suffice to say, we have realized an excellent deal within the final 24 hours … Though we at all times have the perfect intentions, not all the things that we strive works as we wish,” mentioned Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Mozilla’s chief advertising officer. “Inside hours of receiving suggestions,” Mozilla moved Trying Glass to its Firefox add-on retailer, the place folks will have the ability to get it if they need it because it turns into accessible this weekend.

The difficulty exhibits simply how a lot management exterior organizations have over our computing and software program — even well-meaning organizations dedicated to on-line privateness and to creating us all “empowered, protected and unbiased.”

“Mozilla ought to have identified higher,” mentioned pc safety and privateness researcher Bruce Schneier.

Like Apple’s U2 second

Schneier likened the state of affairs to Apple sending iPhone customers U2 music even when they hadn’t requested for it and Amazon remotely eradicating a duplicate of George Orwell’s “1984” from folks’s Kindle e-book readers. “These corporations have management, and you do not,” Schneier mentioned. “They’ll do issues towards your curiosity on a regular basis.”

To test to see in the event you bought the extension, sort “about:addons” into Firefox’s handle bar; then click on “extensions” on the left facet of the web page. If “Trying Glass” is there, you may click on the “take away” button.

The fake pas comes at a foul time. With its new Quantum model of Firefox years within the making and launched a month in the past, Mozilla is making an attempt to win again customers from Chrome with quicker efficiency and software program that is designed to learn you, not a robust company. It is also jabbing Google with an advert marketing campaign that claims, “Large browser is watching you.”

Mozilla is trying to get people to use Firefox to protect their privacy, taking a potshot at Google Chrome in this ad on Facebook.

Mozilla is making an attempt to get folks to make use of Firefox to guard their privateness, taking a potshot at Google Chrome on this advert on Fb.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

However the Mr. Robotic extension broken belief for some. “I switched again to Mozilla a couple of month in the past when Quantum got here out, and that is simply irritating,” mentioned one Redditor. “Are you guys making an attempt to make me change again to Chrome?” requested one other. “Proper as they pulled me in with that ‘we respect your privateness’ candy discuss,” complained a 3rd.

Distant set up

To put in the extension, Mozilla had used a instrument that lets it take a look at Firefox options. A number of on the Reddit dialogue mentioned they’re disabling that capacity, one other signal of broken belief.

“Up to now I used to be tremendous with Mozilla’s strategy to telemetry and research, making my browser accessible for infrequent testing/experimenting/knowledge assortment to trace down bugs or measure enhancements or no matter is ok,” a Redditor mentioned. “This isn’t doing any of these issues. That is an commercial. That is an abuse of the telemetry and defend research program. If I can not belief Mozilla to make use of these instruments responsibly I must disable them and advocate my pals and colleagues do the identical.”

Mozilla distributed the extension solely to folks in america, the group mentioned, including that it checked the extension to ensure it did not acquire any person knowledge.

Mozilla wasn’t paid for the Mr. Robotic tie-in, Kaykas-Wolff mentioned. “We have loved a rising partnership with the present and the present’s viewers,” he mentioned.

The extension was a part of a Mr. Robotic alternate-reality recreation that provides gamers clues and puzzles. “We have discovered the viewers of the present and our customers have many factors of alignment. This was not a paid promotion however relatively a collaboration that was supposed to be enjoyable.”

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