Don’t touch that dial, upcoming version of Firefox will block autoplay

firefox 55 adds webvr support
Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr

One of the pains of browsing the internet is landing on a web page only to have its audio play automatically, without your permission. Well, if you’re using the popular Mozilla Firefox web browser, that will soon change. It was recently announced that the Firefox 66 release coming on March 19 will block both auto-playing video and audio.

Joining a feature already available in Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, Mozilla 66 will prevent websites from playing audio and video without your consent. Such content will only be started up once you click on a play button, but you still will have full control over which websites can play audio and video automatically by default. An icon in the Firefox desktop URL bar will also allow you to access the site information panel and change individual autoplay settings for each website. This will allow you to create a whitelist of trusted websites including, as obvious examples, YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo, or other popular video and audio streaming services.

The new feature in Firefox 66 will not have an impact on video conferencing services like Zoom or Skype. According to Mozilla, Firefox 66 will allow websites to autoplay sound and video if you have previously granted camera or microphone permission. Mozilla is also calling on web developers to consider having videos audio play as muted and present the user with an unmute button. This is something that is currently allowed by default in all major browsers which block autoplay media.

“We know that unsolicited volume can be a great source of distraction and frustration for users of the web. So we are making changes to how Firefox handles playing media with sound. We want to make sure web developers are aware of this new autoplay blocking feature in Firefox,” explained Mozilla’s Chris Pearce.

Audible autoplay blocking will also come to Firefox for Android, replacing the existing block autoplay implementation with the same one as Firefox on the desktop. Mozilla’s decision to block auto-playing video and audio just happens to be one of many it has recently taken to ensure a safer and more efficient FireFox experience. Version 64 of the web browser added a tab management experience, and version 60 ushered in support for password-free logins on the internet.

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