The Newest Feature of Mozilla

As part of the Firefox 93.0 release, Mozilla added a new suggested search result feature to the address bar. That’s not unexpected, given that Firefox Suggest, Mozilla’s function for “surfacing relevant information and sites to help you accomplish your goals,” is identical to what most browsers offer. However, as How-To Geek discovered on its support site, it also provides paid advertiser content.

“When contextual suggestions are enabled, Firefox Suggest leverages your city location and search phrases to make relevant suggestions from Firefox and our partners while respecting your privacy,” according to the support page. The “relevant suggestions” from “trusted partners” are displayed at the bottom of the regular search suggestions, which are based on your bookmarks, browser history, and open tabs – a less invasive form of a search ad, but still an ad. As explained by the support page, Firefox Suggest doesn’t require any new data to be “collected, kept, or shared to create these new recommendations,” and the business only works with partners who adhere to Mozilla’s Firefox privacy guidelines. Although it first appeared in the current version’s release notes, the functionality has been around since at least the prior 92.0 release.

Following an update to the most recent version of Firefox, you may receive a pop-up asking if you wish to enable “contextual suggestions” or change your preferences. You can still disable any of the Firefox Suggest features if you unintentionally helped them without realizing it:

  • Select Settings from the hamburger menu by clicking on the hamburger menu.
  • In the sidebar, go to Privacy and Security and scroll down to Address Bar — Firefox Suggest.
  • To turn the feature on or off, select or deselect the checkbox for contextual suggestions.
  • Select or reject the “occasional sponsored suggestions” checkbox.

It’s a little discouraging to be in charge of a feature like this. Firefox is a popular alternative to browsers like Google Chrome since it is more privacy-conscious and less data-hungry in general. Firefox Suggest may not be a big deal if you trust Mozilla and want to support it. It’s also not the first time Mozilla has dabbled with advertising – in new tabs in 2018, the firm included sponsored advertiser links and Pocket article reading suggestions.

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