Content update: uBlock Origin Suggested Settings

The uBlock Origin Suggested Settings page has been updated with several changes to the 'Filter Lists tab' section. A reader commented that the "AdGuard Annoyances filter list has been replaced by multiple sub-lists", however i'm not seeing any such change with uBO 1.49.2 so i suspect they're using a development version. That comment did prompt me to go through the filter lists section and make several changes however.

How to make your plummeting market share plummet faster!

Not content with rate of their plummeting market share, the ding-bats at Mozilla decide to display pop-up ads for "their" VPN service, Mozilla VPN. In reality the service is powered by Mullvad and apparently offers no technical advantage over using Mullvad directly and actually may compromise privacy since, according to what i've read, Mozilla is routing the traffic through its own infrastructure before turning it over to Mullvad. The only 'advantage' i'm aware of is that Mozilla charges its customers near double what Mullvad charges if you go with a monthly subscription. How's that for "putting people first and fighting for online privacy"?

Mozilla showed VPN ads in Firefox before suspending them - gHacks Tech News

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.

From uMatrix to xiMatrix to... paraMatrix?

When Raymond Hill stopped working on uMatrix (uM) to focus on uBlock Origin (uBO), he disappointed quite few of us. I have always thought that uMatrix was easier to use despite that the reverse was supposed to be the case.

xiMatrix was born as a result of uMatrix being put into hibernation, the project being a simplified fork of uMatrix which has gained some well deserved attention. More recently a friend of mine ('Wrongthink') forked xiMatrix and created paraMatrix which promises to improve upon the feature-set of the former.

Several people, all smarter then me, have posited that uBlock is not capable of the granular filtering offered by uMatrix and therefore the latter is still necessary for us privacy advocates to which i have argued that anything you can do with uMatrix you can do with uBlock, however dong so is not as simple as it is with the point-n-click UI of uMatrix and instead requires the creation of custom filters (see the "My Filters" tab of the UI) which can block resources on a per-file basis, or per-file per-host.

At one time i saw both uBlock and uMatrix as necessary, the former being configured to handle static blocking and the latter for dynamic blocking (until very recently i always thought the 2 played well together). As vastly more powerful privacy protections were built into Firefox however, and given my obligatory usage of the 'arkenfox' user.js, i began to question the necessity of uMatrix and eventually dropped it, even from my "advanced" Firefox privacy guide. Part of my reasoning was "the fewer extensions, the better" logic and part of it was due to the greatly enhanced anti-fingerprinting tech added to Firefox, as well as state partitioning which isolates browser storage (cookies) per host.

Yes, uMatrix offers easier and more granular protection over uBlock from its pop-up interface with its ability to control CSS, cookies, XHR and media with just a click of the mouse rather than having to write custom filters, but i saw no point in blocking CSS, which will transform the majority of websites into a pile of unintelligible rubble, or 1st party media which is no longer an annoyance given the option to block auto-play in Firefox.

Regarding the cookie filtering ability of uMatrix, this storage can be controlled with Firefox natively on a per-host and per-session basis if one desires, though i personally don't see an overwhelming need to bother with this any longer given that this storage is siloed (for the most part) assuming one has enabled Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) and set it to "Strict".

Both xiMatrix and paraMatrix have extended the capability of uMatrix to include font filtering and i think that alone may make them quite attractive. As for me, i do this with a custom filter in uBlock (see my uBlock Origin Suggested Settings guide if interested).

Regarding graphical content, i think it's nice that paraMatrix separates images from the media category which xiMatrix doesn't do. I'm not sure that's of value to me personally, but i'm sure others will appreciate it.

As for XHR (XMLHttpRequest), that's dependent upon JavaScript which i disable globally and allow on a per-site basis.

So given that i always configured uMatrix to allow CSS globally and allow all 1st party images, media and frames, and given the remaining overlap in the functionality offered by uBlock when it's configured to operate in its advanced mode, and given all the other functionality offered by uBlock, especially the filter lists, it didn't seem to make make much sense to continue using uMatrix.

I would also posit that the modern web, being the shit-hole that it is, is only going to continue to get worse and maintaining a reasonable sense of privacy, much less anonymity, which is already essentially impossible, is going to continue to get harder and harder. If one wishes to continue accessing the clear-web, one is going to be forced to make concessions. That said, anyone concerned with privacy (and everyone ought to be) can and should mitigate as many threats as they are comfortably able to given their threat model. As for me, i can see myself largely abandoning the clear-web at some point in the future and moving to some distributed tech that isn't affected as much by corporate centralization and censorship.

Having said all that, i still miss uMatrix and i personally think that Raymond made a mistake by not incorporating the complete uMatrix grid into uBlock Origin. That disappointment aside, it's nice to see others picking up where Raymond left off and creating some redundancy in the web filtering department in the event he "gets hit by a bus" as 'Wrongthink' stated in his paraMatrix introductory post. The potential pitfall with these filtering extensions is that they're largely dependent upon the Manifest v2 web extension specification which is being phased out by the jackasses at Google, but which Mozilla has promised to continue to support... for now. Given that Mozilla derives a huge amount of income from Google however, and given all of the other retarded shit they've pulled off, i don't put any stock whatsoever into their promises.

In my opinion what is really needed is a fork of uBlock Origin with the uMatrix grid, but i suspect that's a massive undertaking. Failing that, i think it's great to see projects like xiMatrix and paraMatrix, and though i don't see myself using them in the near future, i am certainly not ignoring these projects. I'll be keeping an eye on the development of paraMatrix particularly.

New home for my code repo's

All of my code repositories for my account on Codeberg have been moved to my 12bytes account on the same platform. I also transferred ownership of the Alternative Information Directory repository to the 12bytes account. This move was to avoid a Gitea bug that affected user accounts with a dot in them. As a result the main RSS feed for 12bytes is now available. The following repositories are affected:

Pimping 'List Feeds', a Firefox add-on

An a time when news from quality alternative sources is vital to many people, given all that's happening around our world, the M@M's (Morons@Mozilla) decided some time ago, citing development costs verses engagement, that it was a stellar idea to remove the ability to handle RSS/news feeds.

It's no secret that the woke jackasses at Mozilla corporate are on a mission of "shaping the future of the web for the public good" which translates to controlling what information people have have access to through studies and initiatives.

Contrary to the stated reason of development costs, i suspect that the motive behind removing feed processing from Firefox was to drive people to "trusted" corporate sources and away from independent investigative journalists and analysts who are actually publishing high quality content.

In that vein, there have been several developers who have produced add-ons in order to restore news feed functionality to Firefox, among them, Smart RSS Reader, which happens to be my favorite and which includes feed detection and a news reader. While the feed detection capability of Smart RSS Reader is probably fine for most people, it won't always work for websites that don't publish their feeds, such as YouTube, Bitchute, Odysee, etc., and this is where the List Feeds add-on (GitHub), which allows you to define custom feed detection rules, comes in handy.

If you're looking for websites to add to your collection, check out the Alternative Information Directory. Also see my article, How to access RSS feeds for websites that don't advertise one.