One of my favorite non-Safari browsers is Mozilla’s Firefox. It’s fast, comes with plenty of privacy and security options to shame Google and Safari, and now Firefox wants to sell you stuff and give you advice.
I get it. Browsers are free so if you make a browser the business model doesn’t provide for much profit if what you sell is free. Mozilla makes money elsewhere, presumably a chunk from Google to make Google the default search engine (Apple does the same thing, so how much of that privacy stuff do Apple’s executives really believe in?).
Money doesn’t grow on trees. Unless you’re Apple. Or, an AAPL shareholder. Then it’s just like having a tree that sprouts money every quarter.
No, Mozilla, like any browser maker, needs money to keep the developers from selling Amway or Mary Kay or getting involved in the latest multi-level marketing scheme that sells supplements. Amazon has blazed new trails toward privacy and security but apparently there isn’t much money in that direction so the new direction is, 1) advertising, and, 2) recommendations (advice).
Not that long ago, 42 months in Trump years, but only back to May in real time, Firefox started running advertising because Mozilla’s motto “internet for people, not profit” didn’t bring in enough profit. Mozilla bought the read-it later service Pocket and built it into various versions of Firefox.
Ipso facto and alakazam! Advertising.
No, not Google Chrome-like advertising in Google search results. But advertising in the Pocket section of Firefox. It’s not much, but it might be enough to pay a few more bills at Mozilla. It’s not about profit. It’s about paying bills at a non-profit. Big difference.
Well, that was then and this is now and yet another version of Firefox has a new feature called Advance. The idea here is to give you recommendations for additional websites based upon the page you’re viewing. There’s a built-in search engine to help with suggestions.
Advance delivers real-time recommendations to your Firefox sidebar while you browse. Advance uses your current browsing to suggest related news and similar pages to read next, and uses your browsing history to create a personalized feed of quality content
Hmmm. How is this not invading my privacy (even if I opt in)? After all, someone needs to know my browsing history to make suggestions on additional websites, right?
We’re interested in seeing how our users respond to their browsers having a more active role in helping them explore the web, and we’ll experiment with different methods of providing these recommendations if we see enough interest.
Granted, this is just a beta of perhaps a few million users, but the data collected will, 1) help Mozilla figure out how this helps users, and, 2) give your website history to a third party so they can figure out what else you might like to view or sites to visit.
Whatever. Privacy should not be an opt in option. Are not the search engine results in Google really nothing more than advice or suggestions or help– based upon my keywords, browsing history, and all the rest of whatever Google has captured about its users over the years.
Advice is free. Ads are free. Privacy, apparently, comes with a price tag.