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  • Mozilla showed VPN ads in Firefox before suspending them


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    Some Mozilla Firefox users have received popup advertisement in the browser recently. Mozilla used the ad to promote its own Mozilla VPN service to users of the browser. The campaign has now been suspended by the company.


    Mozilla launched its VPN service in 2020 officially. It is using the infrastructure of Mullvad, a VPN service known for its focus on privacy. It is an optional service that users may subscribe to.


    The advertisement that users saw in Firefox came out of the blue for users. Some noted that their browser windows became unresponsive for a time before the popup ad was shown to them.




    The advertisement itself promoted Mozilla VPN with a 20% discount code. The ad did not include a close option that would permanently shut it down, only a "not now" option, which many companies seem to favor these days to give their users no option to say "no, thanks".


    A bug report was created on Bugzilla, Mozilla's official bug tracking site. Several threads on Mozilla's official support site were also created, see here and here as examples.


    User ben153 wrote: "Today Firefox stopped altogether and dimmed the entire window and popped up a "Try the Firefox VPN" message. I use Firefox specifically to get away from disruptive, intrusive violations like that. This needs to be removed immediately and never ever happen again. It's completely antithetical to the core values of Firefox."


    A forum moderator replied to the threads, stating "Firefox is committed to creating an online experience that puts people first, as such we quickly stopped running the ad experience, and are reviewing internally".


    The answer infuriated some users even further. They said that "an online experience that puts people first" should never show ads in this way or use the "not now" option as the only option to close prompts.


    Mozilla appears to have suspended the advertisement campaign right now.  Long-time users of the browser may be reminded of the Mr. Robot campaign that Mozilla ran in 2017 in Firefox. It promoted the TV show by installing a browser extension automatically in Firefox. While installing a browser extension is a different level of interference with user devices, many Mozilla employees did not know about the campaign when it launched.


    It looks as if marketing has pushed this into Firefox, suggesting that Mozilla could push VPN subscriptions this way significantly. This is speculation on our part, and we have to wait for Mozilla's official response to find out more about this.


    While it is understandable that Mozilla wants more subscribers for Mozilla VPN, pushing popup ads into Firefox is not the way to go about it.


    Now You: did you get the ads? What is your take on this?




    Mozilla showed VPN ads in Firefox before suspending them

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