Firefox to take another crack at putting ads in new browser tabs

“Internet for people, not profit,” is the motto that drives Firefox creator Mozilla, but to keep the popular browser in the game takes much time, effort, and yes, money.

That’s why the organization is having another stab at working ads into its offering, with the update being included as part of Firefox 60 that’s expected to be pushed to go live this month.

The ads will appear as personalized sponsored links when a user opens a new tab in Firefox. Users of the beta version may already be seeing them.


After Mozilla acquired read-it-later service Pocket in 2017, the browser started showing links to content “recommended by Pocket” in new tabs. In a recently posted message, Pocket CEO Nate Weiner said the new sponsored links will appear among Pocket recommendations.

Nate, who outlined the upcoming changes in his post, described today’s ad model as “broken,” claiming that it “doesn’t respect user privacy, it’s not transparent, and it lacks control, all the while starting to move us toward low-quality, clickbait content.”

But the CEO said that experiments over the last few months have shown that Firefox can serve personalized sponsored content “that provides value to users without jeopardizing their privacy.”

Nate promised that the personalization of the sponsored links will take place on the client side, “without needing to vacuum up all of your personal data or sharing it with others.”

You can also hide stories you don’t like, and, if you’re really not comfortable with Firefox’s sponsored content, you can simply disable it.

This isn’t the first time Mozilla has included ads on new tabs. It last had a crack at it in 2014, but ditched the effort the following year. “Advertising in Firefox could be a great business, but it isn’t the right business for us at this time because we want to focus on core experiences for our users,” Mozilla declared at the end of the short-lived experiment.

Mozilla, which describes itself as “proudly non-profit, non-corporate, and non-compromised,” currently receives most of its funding via contracts with search providers, and also relies on donations to keep the show on the road.

“Thousands of people like you help us stand up for an open web for all,” the organization says on its website, adding that it’s determined to “keep the web open and free.” Mozilla supports can donate funds via its website.


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