Now Reading
Mozilla Firefox enables built-in ads: The Suggestive Tiles are here

Mozilla Firefox enables built-in ads: The Suggestive Tiles are here

by AshwinSeptember 14, 2015

Mozilla Firefox has enabled its built-in ads, the so-called Suggestive Tiles are here.


It is not an idea which has been added out of the blue, it was originally announced about a year and a half ago, and drew instant criticism from users. I have also criticized this move quite a few times here, especially in my article from back in May this year.

Mozilla initially backed out from the idea, after users slammed the proposal, but decided it was necessary for its coffers, thought the company claims otherwise, it says isn’t being paid for. Back in November 2014, Mozilla severed ties with Google as its default search partner, and jumped ship to Yahoo. This hit Google quite a bit, but that’s another story.

Last month, Mozilla, Yahoo and a few other partners began rolling out the first of the dreaded ad waves to users who had the Firefox en-US version. They were served under the name Suggested Tiles, but they really are ads.

A browser is supposed to load webpages, which may or may not have ads, but when the browser has built-in ads, well, that’s a big no-no from anybody. The reason behind it is simple, privacy issues. While we may use add-ons to block ads, banners and a lot of data tracjing tools, we may not be able to have such security measures when the browser has an API built right into its core for the very purpose , to deliver personalized ads.

Mozilla claims that it considers user privacy and security, as a top priority, and that unlike conventional ads the Sugegsted tiles do not track the user data or share the information with advertisers. Is that so? A report says that this isn’t the case, and a Mozilla employee had said that these are the information that the browser maker collects:

  •     Language preference
  •     Tile ID
  •     How many times the Tile was displayed
  •     Where in the grid of tiles a Tile was displayed
  •     What interaction the user has with a Tile:
  •     “Rolled over”
  •     “Hovered over”
  •     Pinned
  •     Blocked
  •     Clicked
  •     Moved

Whoa, that’s enough to build a bank for storing data. Oh and it gets worse, but you knew that didn’t you?

The data which it collects along with the user’s IP address is stored for a period of 7 days maximum. After which, the IP address is removed from the data, and the data itself is stored into Mozilla’s archives. Mozilla says it does not create a profile of an individual over time.

Firefox’s biggest rival isn’t Chrome, it isn’t Edge, it’s Mozilla itself. The browser maker has been hammering the nails into it’s coffin, with controversial announcements and features. Mozilla recently announced that it will be shifting to a new tech called E;ectrolysis, which will enable it to run each tab as its own process, similar to how Chrome does. This will reduce the memory load instead of when all the tabs are running under a single RAM heavy process. While that does sound like good news, it means add-on developers will have re-code their entire work. This also becomes mandatory, since Mozilla is retiring old APIs in favour of WebExtensions, which apparently lack the flexibility that the current API offers.

If Mozilla’s self imposed path of destructive features continues, we could be well saying goodbye to our favorite browser. I myself have been using Firefox for a decade or so, and have resisted shifting to Chrome, which is buggy as it is. But with the additions of privacy risks like Suggested Tiles, I’m considering moving on to a better and safer browser, perhaps a fork of Firefox, like WaterFox or Pale Moon, both  of which offer an official 64-bit browser, and the latter continues to offer the pre-Australis look, which is a great bonus.